Tuesday, April 28, 2015

IBM Cognitive Cooking and Creative Poutine

Ever have one of those days where you have a few ingredients here and there but don't know what dish you can make without running to the grocery store to buy another few items? Worry not, as Chef Watson can help. When given a handful of ingredients, IBM's Chef Watson can use that data to create new and original recipes.

Named after IBM founder Thomas Watson, IBM Watson is a cognitive computing system that thinks like a human. Chef Watson is part of IBM's efforts to explore if a machine can be creative. Watson can sift through mass amounts of data, recognize patterns, make connections and organize information the same way a human brain would. (If you want to see the massively intelligent Watson, watch this video of it owning at Jeopardy!).

The cool thing about Chef Watson is its ability to analyze billions of times more information than a human chef could consider and to be able to create new, surprising recipes that would actually taste good to most people. I don't think Chef Watson is meant to replace real chefs, but rather to make life easier or provide inspiration.

As a sponsor of last week's La Poutine Week, IBM hosted a poutine tasting event in Toronto (also one in Montreal) and featured five unique poutine recipes that reflect the cultural make up and cuisine preferences of the cities' residents.

Source: Watson Press Kit

I was very happy to be invited to this tasting event, and definitely enjoyed trying all the different type of poutines. Seeing the real food product really put things in perspective for me as to how technology like cognitive cooking and cognitive computing could touch our lives. Here are the poutines that were showcased that night. None of them were your ordinary poutine and all of them were delicious! (Please excuse the quality of the photos. Some of the food stations didn't have enough lighting..)


In addition to the fun side of things, cognitive cooking can also bring lots of social benefits, such as developing menus for hospitals and schools to meet very specific dietary needs in combinations that actually taste great. It can also help us cut waste through effective meal planning in our everyday lives. I found this technology to be very fascinating and if you want to learn more about IBM Watson, check our their website. They even have a Chef Watson cookbook available on Amazon!

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