AI: Food and the Future

A recent article in The Guardian newspaper by Philip Maughan suggested that AI and computing will be able to help restore the fun and fusion of cooking. Perhaps AI will become everyone’s favourite cookbook in the coming years?

AI has opened a window of opportunity with endless possibilities when it comes to food. We can fuse dishes together, create recipes from just a few ingredients and take influence from various culture’s food.

Creating innovative recipes has long been the preserve of chefs with years of experience and a keen knowledge of the intricacies of ingredients and the science of cooking, but now this skill could be overtaken by computing. In the future, will Michelin star meals have been designed by computers rather than chefs?

At this current stage of AI development there have been many complaints about the standard of recipes which are being produced -too bland, too westernised, and lacking balance are all issues which people have reported when reviewing the use of AI to create recipes. However, at the rate at which technology is developing surely it is just a matter of time before these skills are better developed. But then, should we be surprised when we hand creativity to a machine that the outcome is less than perfect?

An interesting aspect of using AI to produce food innovation is the ability to document all these new recipe innovations that computers are generating. Creating a huge database containing a diverse number of experimentations, both successful and unsuccessful, could be the answer. So often recipes move in and out of fashion, being just as quickly forgotten as they were created, but perhaps AI has the capability to store and preserve these recipes for future use or as a reliable, consistent reference for recipes that could have been forgotten.

Utilising AI in relation to food services offers the opportunity to improve standardisation and effective procedure when it comes to catering to the masses. Already AI has been used to improve allergen information and adaption in recipes, as well as alternatively aiding in ways to reduce food waste. Utilising AI can be both cost efficient and efficient in changing recipes to suit companies needs and possibly boosting sustainability.

Perhaps, the balance between utilising AI for recipe creation and not stifling the creativity of experienced chefs is a matter of seeing the relationship as one of collaboration and partnership? Perhaps, with AI acting as a quasi-sous chef we will be able to utilise the efficiency of AI, with the creativity and honed knowledge of top chefs, to push food to the next level. Computerised innovation, when used in conjunction with hospitality industry people, has the capability to improve food design and thus provide an even more enhanced food experience, where perhaps the flair of an experienced chef can be complemented by computer generated innovation.

Written by Lexie Cook, EP Business in Hospitality