IBM Watson vs Food: Supercomputer takes to the food truck for its latest cognitive computing challnge

Watch out Gordon Ramsey, Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver, there’s a new celebrity chef in town.

Related: IBM’s supercomputer Watson ready to take on cancer

Not content with taking down Jeopardy, IBM’s Watson supercomputer has turned its hand to becoming the next Masterchef through a new cognitive cookery system that has its roots in IBM’s Cloud and can create surprising recipes in eight steps.

Watson kicks off its culinary journey by sending a chef’s selection of main ingredients into the cloud along with the region that the desired cuisine originates. That’s when the IBM Cloud gets to work by using its powerful analytics to work out the essential components of a range of popular dishes. It means that whether it’s a burrito or a burger, Watson knows the basics.

IBM’s cognitive system then considers thousands of different flavours at the same time using that technology – something that a modest chef can only dream of. From those thousands of ingredients it then brings to the table “quintillions” of new recipes and the fifth step involves using chemoinformatics to turn flavours into molecular formulas.

Hedonic psychophysics model human tastes to see which of them measures up and makes it to the next stage– something sure to get Heston hot under the collar. Recipes that make it this far are then ranked on their ability to surprise and the highest on this scale are given to human chefs in order to create the finished products.

IBM recently demonstrated Watson’s culinary techniques with a food truck at an event in Zurich with the creations including a beefsteak tomato taco with a splash of cider vinegar, some vanilla and a few pieces of lemon peel, and a green tea pudding with whiskey, tapioca and cardamom.

Michel Roux Jr, a two-time Michelin star chef, admitted that the latter “would work” according to the Daily Mail, yet the chef preparing the dishes added that one vital element was missing – texture.

Related: IBM aims to slash big data costs with “Elastic Storage” software-defined products

“You can end up with a list of ingredients, and none of them has an element of crispiness,” James Briscione, one of the chefs working on the project, told The Salt.

IBM has been throwing various jobs in Watson’s direction since the explosion in big data needs and this has included becoming a personal shopper, laying on customer service assistance and tackling cancer, all part of a huge $1 billion [£607 million] investment by IBM.

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