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IBM + ICE: Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson

#IBMFoodTruck Powered by ICE

As one of the nation’s leading culinary schools, our mission at ICE has always been to push the envelope and anticipate the changes that will shape the culinary industry. So when one of the world’s most innovative companies - IBM - approached us to collaborate in developing a system that could change the way chefs approach creativity, we were more than a little intrigued.

Over the past three years ICE has been collaborating with IBM researchers, testing the limits of ingredient pairings and developing strategies to implement cognitive cooking in the culinary arts.

What is “cognitive cooking”?


“The idea of cognitive cooking is machines and humans working together—in this case, a very complex analytic system drawing from the vast collected knowledge of chemistry, food culture and taste preferences to help chefs break new ground."
– Mahmoud Naghshineh, IBM Research

With the aid of our extensive recipe databases, our experienced instructors, staff and long history of culinary education, IBM has been able to test and refine scientific theories regarding the pairing of ingredients, establishing a system, Chef Watson, that evaluates combinations not only for pleasantness, but also for surprise and synergy of ingredients.

"For a chef, creating flavor pairs is natural, but seeing ingredients matched in larger groups and understanding the science—the shared compounds that make these foods taste good together—is revolutionary."
- James Briscione, Institute of Culinary Education

Chef Watson’s cognitive creativity offers unprecedented opportunities for culinary professionals to not only create unusual and exciting restaurant dishes, but also to develop recipes to accommodate specific health concerns, address factors such as sustainability or even create new products to address important issues, such as world hunger.

“Rather than a crutch that removes the chef’s decision-making process from the equation, this technology pushes chefs outside of their familiar comfort zones to consider new ideas and techniques toward deliciousness.”
– Michael Laiskonis, Institute of Culinary Education

In the spring of 2014, IBM and ICE took Chef Watson on the road in the guise of the #IBMFoodTruck. Debuting at IBM Pulse in Las Vegas and South by Southwest in Austin, the truck offered innovators from around the globe the opportunity to interact with Chef Watson and taste the fruits of its collaborations with ICE Chefs.

After serving and interacting with thousands of technology and food enthusiasts, itbecame clear that the public was hungry for more cognitive cooking. Which is why, in the summer of 2014, ICE went back into the kitchen with IBM to begin work on the next chapter in this groundbreaking collaboration.

The forthcoming Chef Watson cookbook is a revolutionary display of the creative collaboration of man and machine. Combining the culinary talent and experience of ICE chefs with the cognitive power of Watson, these recipes will redefine the way professional and home cooks approach flavor pairing and the creation of new dishes.

Photographed by Food & Wine Digital Food Award winners Diane Cu-Porter and Todd Porter and brought to life by acclaimed publication designer Don Morris, the book is as visually thrilling as it is innovative. Brimming with stunning plating and recipe development from ICE Director of Culinary Development James Briscione and Creative Director Michael Laiskonis, it is sure to be the most groundbreaking cookbook to hit shelves since the release of Modernist Cooking.

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