Watson’s in the kitchen…

It’s a joke in my house that I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. And if I make something once, I very likely will not be able to duplicate the effort a second time.  My problem is not an inability to cook, it is an inability to stick to the program. Any program. So when the recipe calls for an ingredient that I don’t have, or that doesn’t smell as ‘right’ as another ingredient, I just switch. And measuring implements, bah. I know how much a tablespoon of olive oil is! For years I wasn’t allowed to bake…although that is changing slowly and with a great deal of resistance from my family (I’ve learned that baking is chemistry and I’ve agreed to use the called for ingredients and to measure them). Someday maybe I’ll share some of my most embarrassing baking stories. But I digress…

tomato and cheese stuffed summer squash...created without watson!

Tomato and cheese stuffed summer squash. But of course I could never do this again. I didn’t write anything down nor did I measure. Sigh…it was good, too!

Do you remember Watson, the computer of Jeopardy fame?

Well he is apparently changing careers from Jeopardy Human Destroyer to Chef. And if you’re lucky, he will help you in your kitchen. IBM has teamed up with Bon Appetit Magazine to teach Watson how to cook…kind of. Based on the ingredients you input (in my case whatever is in my fridge), the type of dish you’d like to make and the style you’d like to try, Watson will create a list of ingredients and a recipe (actually 100 recipes) to follow using the data collected from Bon Appetit’s 9000 recipes. IBM and Bon Appetit’s intention is to allow the home cook to increase his or her creativity based on the information provided by Watson.

Watson is what IBM calls a ‘cognitive computing system’, meaning that the information that was input into the program is re-organized by Watson and output in a different form….a new recipe never before tried (at least as far as Watson knows), like an Austrian Chocolate Burrito. The technology is amazing and I won’t begin to pretend that I truly understand it, but I am excited at the chance to be part of its development. If you want a chance to play in the kitchen with Watson, here is your opportunity.

Happy cooking! And if they choose me, you can expect lots of pictures!

my friends cook with pearls



Cooking shows have changed since I was a youngster watching The Galloping Gourmet and Julie Child’s French Chef. Every Saturday morning on channel 9 they walked me through the details of recipes that I wouldn’t actually attempt for decades, but that didn’t deter me. As soon as Captain Kangaroo went off, cooking went on. And much to the chagrin of my mom, who was a wonderful cook, I had no interest in actually cooking. What I loved about the shows was how accessible the chefs were, how kind they seemed, and how they explained what they were doing with a love for the process, the food and the eating. They looked like real people, sometimes they made mistakes, they tasted their food and talked with their mouths full, they shared their kitchens as if I were right there with them and they were having so much fun! These were my celebrity chefs, although I can’t imagine either of them using the term.

The cooking shows of today I watch with rarity. Recently I was listening to a show on the radio and the chef actually referred to himself as a celebrity chef. I turned the radio off. So many of the cooking shows today seem to be hosted by people more interested in celebrity than chef, and while they may be wonderful at what chef-ing they do, the celebrity part leaves a nasty taste that sends me in search of a good cookbook.

Then today as I was reading through Marcia Gagliardi’s Tablehopper (an awesome SF dining newsletter that you should all be subscribing to), she mentioned that Tante Marie’s Cooking School is closing and that she hoped that the founder, Mary Risley, would continue to share her cooking videos. Oh my goodness Marcia, me too, me too! Please Mary Risley, do keep making your videos! They take me right back to that childhood happy place with my friends Julia and Graham.

Everyone should cook with pearls…just awesome.

 I know, I know, wrong time of year but this is so funny!

Enjoy the videos with a glass of pinot! Keep in touch,