Artificial intelligence could capture chefs' cooking secrets, allowing their recipes to be replicated. Photography Nikhil Abraham / YouTube©
Intellectual property is difficult to apply to the culinary world, but chefs could one day monetize their culinary secrets if they agree to prepare a dish under the watchful eye of artificial intelligence. In a science-fiction-like scenario, 'recipe record and playback' technology means that a chef's signature dish could be recreated in a kitchen they've never even set foot in.
From Dominique Ansel's half-croissant, half-doughnut creation the cronut, to Yann Brys's swirling cream creation piped on a potter's wheel and Pierre Hermé's iconic Ispahan rose and lychee macaron, many great chefs claim—and rightly so—to be the inventors of signature tricks of the trade, cooking techniques and recipes.
But in legal terms, the application of intellectual property rights to the world of gastronomy can be complicated. As such, guaranteeing copyright and monetizing the 'ownership' of culinary creations can prove tricky.
However, cooks could potentially monetize their signature dishes by sharing all their secrets—from the exact cooking times to the precise temperature, or when to add this or that ingredient—with artificial intelligence. Californian start-up CloudChef has developed a software program that does just that. Specifically, cameras and sensors are placed at the level of the cooking hob. The aim is to record, for example, the proportion of each ingredient, the temperature of the meat, the precise size of the cut vegetables, but also the exact moment when the piece of meat is turned over, the thickness of a sauce or the degree of caramelization of a food such as onions.
How might it work?
All these measurements are then transcribed into a highly detailed recipe. The interest of the technology lies in the capacity of this artificial intelligence program to provide the smallest details of a recipe so that it can be reproduced anywhere without the presence of its creator.
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Chefs could then sell their cooking secrets to "dark kitchens," the virtual restaurants that supply meal delivery platforms. According to one of the founders of CloudChef, who envisions this software as a kind of "Spotify of recipes," dish creators could then get royalties every time a dish is ordered.
On the consumer side, this innovation would allow people to taste the signature dishes of a chef working anywhere in the world. It remains to be seen whether the world's major chefs would really agree to have their culinary secrets captured by artificial intelligence.