My First AI-Powered Meal?

First, an admission: I am a terrible cook. It stresses me out more than just about any other activity, so I don’t do it very often. The intricacies of synchronizing the production of several different foodstuffs (meat, vegetables…) in order to get everything ready at the same time, when people are ready to eat it, are beyond me (let alone the actual taste of the result).

Luckily for me, my wife is a great cook, and makes everything look effortless, even while holding a conversation about something completely different.

Last night, she was coming back from a training course in Lisbon and so I agreed to prepare dinner. Given my limitations, I knew I needed to do something simple, that used only one pot, and could be prepared mostly in advance: hence spaghetti bolognese.

Normally I would have looked up a recipe using a web search and chosen something at random. This time I thought I’d try ChatGPT instead.

It immediately gave me a list of ingredients and cooking instructions that seemed perfectly reasonable. So I checked the fridge and cupboards and started making a shopping list of what I needed to buy in the local supermarket.

First issue: I needed a bay leaf. But I live in Paris, and even though I’ve lived here a long time, the French for bayleaf is not something I have needed in my daily life so far. ChatGPT easily gave me the translation: “feulle de laurier”.

But wait, maybe we already have that at home? I open a draw and find something that might be it. I take a quick photo with the ChatGPT app and it reassures me that I’m on the right track:

I started chopping up all the vegetables and preparing the meal. But suddenly I realized that the ingredients include a beef stock cube—but it’s not used in the recipe instructions (a classic example of the current limitations of large language models). No problem—I ask ChatGPT when it’s supposed to be used, and it updates the instructions accordingly.

The result (I added courgettes / zucchini because why not)—and my pasta-loving daughter had double helpings.

Who knows? Maybe AI will help me overcome a long-time phobia of cooking, by being there to reassure me every step of the way, and answering every question, no matter how trivial, without being judgmental? (how long do I heat the oil up before putting in the onions? what does “until translucent” really looking like? how many grams of pasta do I need per person? how much salt should I add to the past water, etc…)

And maybe this is all a great analogy for how the latest technologies can lead to a surge in new productivity in organizations, by lowering the barriers to gaining competencies in new areas?

Or maybe not. I’ll keep you posted 🙂






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