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IBM’s Watson, Bon Appetit partner for groundbreaking recipe app

Addie Broyles

Remember when IBM was showing off Watson’s cognitive computing in a food truck at South by Southwest?

At the time, the supercomputer could respond to a number of inputs or parameters (cuisine, type of dish, meat/no meat, etc) and then spit out a set of ingredients and predict how pleasant, surprising and well-paired those ingredients would be together. Chefs, including those from the Institute of Culinary Education, an early partner on the project, would then have to use their human brains to build a recipe, and the resulting dishes were served by the thousands to SXSW attendees in March.

Recipes, it turns out, are one small step for trained chefs, one giant leap for robot kind, and this week, Watson is making that leap.

IBM announced today that it has teamed up with Bon Appetit to release Chef Watson With Bon Appetit, an app that uses Watson technology to bring artificial intelligence into home kitchens.

For now, the app is in beta mode capped at only a few hundred users (whomp, whomp — you can take a survey here to get on the waiting list), but when it expands, I think it has the potential to be one of the most revolutionary apps in recent years, and possibly ever when you consider that IBM has captured and replicated a process that once only humans could execute.

To show off how it works, Bon Appetit let Watson guide a day in the test kitchen to develop five recipes for a Fourth of July package in the magazine. You can read about how the experiment went here.

How would you use artificial intelligence like Watson in your kitchen? Does it seem like a natural evolution of technology or an unnecessary step in a direction away from old-school intuitive cooking?