[Chef Watson] Memoirs after completing 10 trials

This post is about testing recipes created by artificial intelligence, Chef Watson of IBM

Dream about the future, where robot arms cook in your kitchen and all you need to do is to purchase a Michelin chef’s recipe and push the button ‘cook’. It even finds alternatives to ingredients you are allergic to, and ingredients with lower calories if you’re on diet.

This was my initiative to kick off this personal project. As I stress in my profile, I’m a serious foodie and I fell in love with cooking. I was curious how the cooking experience would change in the future. At first, I imagined flicking a magic wand to create delicious and creative recipes created by the super computer. But after several failures and found faux pas with the Chef Watson’s recipes, I became a more independent cook and came up with several ideas that could improve Chef Watson  from a UX perspective (For those who might’ve forgotten, my job is a UX designer).

1. Add UX to input user feedback

Deep learning requires human assessment to tell if the what computer has learned is right or wrong. However, unlike case guessing, if the animal in the picture is a dog or a wolf, testing recipes needs a lot of effort and time for testers. Adding a feature to add a star-rating, or adding in-line comments as Medium does will encourage adventurous cooks to try and start a discussion about the recipe.

Screenshot of Medium
In-line comment of Medium

2. My inventory feature

There are condiments or sauces that are always on the shelf, and it would be great if I could add them in the user Settings and Chef Watson suggests recipes using the items in my inventory more often than other recipes.

3. Difficulty setting feature

Well, for the novice cook, it’s hard to figure out the difficulty and expected time to complete the dish by reading the recipe. This feature will help a lot in engaging more users to try Chef Watson.

4. Localization

Currently, the content provider is Bon Apetit and it only covers western recipes but ingredients and cooking method are so different between countries. If there’s a setting to set my location, Chef Watson can suggest alternative ingredients which are easy to find in that country; for example, herbs are quite expensive in Korea and I always visit the grocery corner of the department store because supermarkets and online supermarket don’t sell fresh herbs.

5. Taste balance graph

Even though Chef Watson suggests alternative ingredients by calculating the balance among aromatic compounds included in each ingredient, changing one ingredient can change the overall taste. If there’s an interactive balance graph of the taste of outcome, it will help users to imagine how it will taste when cooked.

Pentagon diagram of the taste

Here is the quick summary of my Chef Watson project and posts of each trial so far.

  • Project timespan: 4 months
  • Number of recipes to test: 10
  • Budget: I didn’t count:-(, I should’ve recorded every receipt.
  • Success rate: 60%
  • Most impressive recipe: #3 Apple Chicken Meatball
  • Worst recipe: Avocado Paella
  1. Deviled Eggs

First trial and first failure. It was the saltiest deviled eggs in Seoul.

2. Roasted Pork tenderloin

Output was good, but inefficiency in making the peach compote let me down.

3. Apple Chicken Meatball

The first recipe encouraged me to continue this project, I was surprised that chicken breast can be turned into the most delicious meatball and it was harmonious with apple sauce.

4.Pizza Topped With Yam

Unique. It was worth trying but won’t do it again. Balance of flavors was missing.

5. Avocado Paella

avocado paella
Worst dish in my cooking history. But I’ll do vegetarian recipe again and make it a huge success!

6. Halibut With Kimchi Sauce

Korean inspired pan-fried halibut but Watson’s direction to add another pepper and salt to kimchi showed its lack of understanding of ingredients.

7. Pumpkin Baba Ghanoush

Pumpkin Baba
It has a unique flavor and quite addictive. But similar to the 6.Halibut With Kimchi Sauce, Watson lacked understanding of alternative ingredients. Cooking time and cooking method should be changed if an ingredient is changed to another.

8. Mushroom Burger With Strawberry Ketchup

Impressive that I could make ketchup with strawberries (and getting to know that there are so many varieties in ketchup; for example, Filipinos eat banana ketchup). Also, the burger patty made of chicken breast and mushrooms was healthy and nutritious and surprisingly tasty as well.

9. Glutinous Rice Dressing With Apples, Sweet Potatoes, and Dates

One of my favorite recipes among 10 trials. So harmonious and a comforting dish, and easy to cook.

10. Curry and Kimchi Chili Con Pollo

Chilli Con Pollo with curry and kimchi
Literally a melting pot of Japanese curry, Korean kimchi and Italian cannellini beans under the name of Mexican food. This crazy mixture is what Watson can suggest and also it was a success dish.

For those whom it may concern, I’m not related to IBM or Chef Watson. It is my personal interest to test how artificial intelligence decodes the way chefs create recipes and I want to see if this service can be offered to everyone in the near future.


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