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It just got a lot easier to find great supercomputer-created recipes on Chef Watson


IBM Watson's supercomputer chef is a marvel of artificial intelligence but it isn't always perfect when it comes to actual use.

The free Chef Watson app takes the user's requested meal, style and ingredients, and concocts a recipe based on its knowledge of flavors that pair well. Sounds great!

But when I tried Chef Watson, I had a difficult time looking for a recipe that had easy-to-find ingredients and wasn't too difficult to whip up in an hour.

At first glance, I was overwhelmed by the categories and ran into a stumbling block almost immediately when I couldn't find a difficulty setting.

chef watson landing pageBut according to a tip from a friendly commenter on Tech Insider, who was later revealed to be Florian Pinel, senior software engineer at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, a new feature just added this week might make Chef Watson a lot easier to use, especially for folks like me who are precious about their time.

Log in to Chef Watson as usual and search for easy in the search field.

chef watson easyAnd voila! A variety of easy and quick recipes pop up.

To get a different combination of ingredients and new dishes, click "more" or search for different ingredients.

chef watson easy recipeWith the first try, I found a lovely recipe that would make for a delicious lunch — Easy Dried Mushroom Couscous Dish.

The dish has just two steps, and it's something I'll likely be trying.

chef watson easy mushroom recip

Pinel told Tech Insider by email that the IBM team has been working on the easy feature for a couple of weeks.

"This is really a first attempt, to see how people react," Pinel said.

Chef Watson invented the couscous dish after analyzing over 10,000 Bon Appetit recipes. For the easy feature, Chef Watson scans for about 2,000 Bon Appetit recipes tagged with the keywords "easy" or "quick," according to Pinel. Eventually the easy setting may find a different home on the main app page.

Chef Watson cooks up these recipes after a unique kind of culinary education called machine learning. According to the Washington Post, the app "ingests a huge amount of unstructured data — recipes, books, academic studies, tweets — and analyzes it for patterns the human eye wouldn't detect."

It then takes the user's requested ingredients or style and throws together a recipe based on its memory and accumulated knowledge of flavors that work together. In other words, it looked for statistical correlations among ingredients that tended to appear together.

Chef Watson also wrote a cookbook with 65 original recipes after analyzing more than 30,000 recipes. If the recipes in the books are too complicated, give up the webapp a shot. It won't take you long.

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