Emeril and Wolfgang might have a new companion in the kitchen: Watson, IBM's "Jeopardy!" whiz computer.
In a video called "Computational Creativity," the concept of marrying artificial and culinary intelligence is explained.
"Humans have trouble remembering or thinking about large data sets or large number of possibilities," said Lav Varshney, a research scientist at IBM. "Most professional chefs are good at reasoning about pairs of ingredients. Some of the best chefs can reason about three ingredients. But pretty much no human can reason about four ingredients."
Enter Watson. Since the computer's dominating run in 2011 on "Jeopardy!" scientists have been working with it to see what else it can create. IBM partnered with the Institute of Culinary Education and programmed the computer to pair food ingredients.
"What we're doing is pushing computing to this whole new direction that people haven't looked at too much," continued Varshney. "We're all familiar with search engines and how they can help us find things, but can a computer help you come up with things that have never existed before? That's what we're trying to do."
So far, the program seems to be a success. According to National Public Radio, Watson is powering a food truck staffed by ICE chefs. The truck debuted in Las Vegas last week and is slated to appear at South By Southwest.
"It has driven up some flavor pairings that we would not have thought of," James Briscione, director of culinary Development at ICE, told NPR. "But we haven't come across an instance yet where something didn't taste good."
Some of those dishes include pork belly moussaka (with cottage cheese), Baltic apple pie (with pork loin and garlic chips), Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche, and Austrian chocolate burrito.
It all starts by selecting an ingredient. The computer then knows what to include with it based on all different types of preferences, from global cuisine to food chemistry and human perception.
The possibilities are quite literally endless, and that's what has chefs, programmers, and foodies alike excited.