Whether you’re looking for a recipe suggestion, wine pairing or just want to chat with a celebrity chef, you’re in luck: there’s a bot for that.
With bots of all flavors flooding the market, the food space is particularly ripe for innovation as enterprising coders and food entrepreneurs try their hand at creating that virtual sous chef or grocery shopping assistant.
Here at the Spoon, we read and try out new foodbots all the time. In doing our research, we started to wonder about the people behind the bots and the choices they made in bringing their bot to market.
So, we decided to ask them.
This is our first in an occasional Q&A series with the person behind the bot. This first bot-maker is Michael Gyarmathy, the creator of an Alexa Skill called Cooking Competition.
Cooking Competition is a super basic skill that suggests a changing array of ingredient suggestions for you to test out your cooking skills. I tried it out on my own rather than facing off against friends, so I can being uses as a daily inspirational to come up with a cook-from-scratch meal ideas as much as for a competition with friends.
Whether you use Cooking Competition for ingredient suggestions or as a way to test your cooking prowess against friends, you can get started here.
Here’s our Q&A with Michael Gyarmathy:
Where did you get the idea for your Cooking Competition?
This Alexa skill is inspired by cooking competition TV shows such as Food Network’s Chopped. The concept is simple: compete with your friends in a test of culinary skill by coming up with dishes that incorporate the special “basket ingredients” provided by Alexa.
Why did you choose to use the Alexa Skill vs other platforms?
The Amazon Alexa platform intrigued me the most due to ease of development and distribution. Amazon’s developer documentation provides a great starter template and then leaves you build whatever you desire. From my experience, the review and publishing process is also very simple and straightforward.
What is unique about developing for voice interface vs. other AI platforms?
I think voice interfaces are extremely useful in the kitchen because often times both of my hands are tied up in whatever I’m cooking, and being able to control a device with my voice rather than touching a screen is a game-changer. The AI aspect of the Alexa platform is an added benefit and will continue to be leveraged more and more in applications as the barrier-to-entry for developers continues to lower.
Why a food-focused skill?
Aside from programming, a lot of my down time is spent in the kitchen with my wife trying out new recipes. Cooking is a huge hobby of mine, and I want to find ways to combine my passions for cutting-edge technology and delicious food.
Tell us about yourself (Is this your first bot, other apps/software, education)?
This Alexa skill was my first experience in the world of voice-driven interfaces and AI applications. In my day job, I work as a Mobile Solutions Consultant for Credera, a management and technology consulting firm located in Dallas. Prior to that, I graduated with a Computer Science degree from Texas A&M University.
What do you have in store for Cooking Competition (other bot platforms, new features, etc)?
The Cooking Competition skill could be improved by storing previous user interactions to influence future responses to the user. I’d also be interested in adding links to more information about the random basket ingredients as part of the response card in the Alexa app in case the user is unfamiliar with one of the ingredients.