How IBM’s Supercomputer Made Its Own Barbecue Sauce

IBM's supercomputer may have mastered the elusive perfect barbecue sauce

IBM's supercomputer uses a method of "cognitive cooking" to create successful recipes.

Recently, an editor at Fast Company had the unusual honor of trying out barbecue sauce designed by Watson, IBM’s “artificially intelligent computer system capable of answering questions in natural language.” You may also remember Watson as the tour de force who took down Jeopardy! wizard Ken Jennings.

Software systems from the now world-famous Watson have been used to manage decisions on lung cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, and inspired a dedicated business unit in projects ranging from biotechnology to publishing.

But did you know that the suave super-computer can also cook like an angel?

According to Fast Company’s Mark Wilson, the robot-born barbecue sauce known as Bengali Butternut BBQ Sauce makes for quite an appetizing algorithm. If you were wondering, Wilson described it as similar to a Thai mustard sauce, “maybe the middle point between a BBQ sauce and a curry. Does that sound gross? I assure you that it isn’t.”

On Reddit, a member of IBM’s development team took some time to explain the methodology: “Watson consumes massive amounts of recipes from different sources and then parses out the ingredients and steps.”

Watson categorizes ingredient profiles into a database, and then “From there it's a collaborative creative process between chef and Watson.”

Chefs like Michael Laiskonis, the creative director of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE); scientist-chef Florian Pinel, and James Briscoe, ICE’s director of culinary development and formerly a sous chef for Daniel Boulud, are among the culinary members of team Watson.

For some amazing behind the scenes information on Watson’s “cognitive cooking,” check out IBM’s website.

Meanwhile, this human being wants us to eat food that tastes like nothing...


Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.