January 14, 2020

”It”s another tool that provides vital information to complement a chef’s talent”, Andoni Luis Aduriz defended.

Artificial intelligence wants to make a place for itself in gastronomy, as it has done in music or art, as a part or an ingredient of any creative process. “Artificial intelligence is the route to reach a goal, but it doesn’t create it. It serves as an inspiration for human beings, but they are the creators”, explained François Chartier of Les Vignerons de Chartier. This idea is also defended by Sony, which is working to see how artificial intelligence can help in different fields, one of which is gastronomy. “Using data, we harmonise the creative process through a huge database of recipes to see how the ingredients combine and we engage in a dialogue with the system to take the next step”, explained Michael Spranger from Sony.

“We put information at the service of the creator, in this case the chef, from a million recipes and more than 5,000 ingredients and their seasonality, their nutritional information, their flavours, their colours, anything that could have a bearing on achieving the desired dish”, added the researcher, supporting the fact that artificial intelligence is put at the service of the creator. Because if there is one thing that chefs and researchers agree on, it is that to achieve the desired dish you need culture, knowledge, science and experience when it comes to creating it. Artificial intelligence provides a database with a lot of information about human perception of textures, the dish, the colour, the taste, the pleasure, the tastes, the chef’s style, the temperature and cultural identity to serve as a guide or GPS for the chef. “Artificial intelligence doesn’t have the value that the creator provides, but it helps you achieve your goal”, Spranger remarked.

And as the best way is to demonstrate how the system works, Romain Fornell, from the restaurant Caelis was in charge of putting it into practice. After learning out about the ‘inputs’ that had been selected for the program, he created a snack – a kind of parmesan tile – as a preliminary step towards a final creation. The information in the program allowed the chef to carry out a gastronomic experience, but it was he who provided the technique, experience and knowledge. “The cook is the key because without the cook, artificial intelligence is useless”, they re-iterated time and time again.

After trying the creation, Andoni Luis Aduriz, from the Mugaritz restaurant, was equally clear. “It’s extraordinary, but only because the intermediary who analyses that data is fantastic”, he said, in reference to Romain.

In fact, the Basque chef recalled that in his years with Ferran Adrià, they were already working with a more rudimentary type of artificial intelligence. “Ferran had some tables where, depending on what you chose, he would give you a few options. If you chose a fish, he’d tell you the best technique, the best accompaniment, presentation…” “The important thing in a dish is the product, the preparation and the technique. Artificial intelligence can help you a lot to complement the talent a person may eventually have. It’s just another tool”, insisted the cook from Mugaritz.