Buzzfeed, the ubiquitous social media aggregator and digital media company, is leaning heavy into the food game. Buzzfeed recently launched “Botatouille,” the first AI-powered culinary companion designed by Tasty – an app and food platform – that promises to revolutionize ingredient-strapped chefs or bolster the Frankensteinian aspirations of improvisational gourmands at home. Botatouille is an AI chefbot (and chatbot) accessible via the Tasty app that can help answer culinary questions such as How do you sous vide?; What recipes can I make using the ingredients in my fridge?; How do I clean hard-to-scrub stains? and more. It can recommend meals within certain budgets, help busy parents prep for the week with one-pot dishes, and foster conversation (and recipe reviews) among its millions of users.
It also bears mentioning that Botatouille is a teal-tinted fox – not a rat – who sports a jaunty toque blanche and a gigantic wooden spoon larger than its body. It is, in other words, totes adorbs and readymade for social media. Which of course it is, just like Tasty and the Buzzfeed slew of platforms and companies above it.
Capitalizing on the global AI and tech boon largely driven by ChatGPT’s groundbreaking text-generating capabilities, Tasty hopes to fundamentally change meal prep, cooking, and even the shopping experience for its global community of users. If the app can provide the ingredients needed to round out a meal, for instance, it can take the guesswork out of grocery shopping. Or finding recipes. Or wondering how to properly deglaze a cast-iron pan before further kitchen razzle-dazzling.
“We developed Botatouille with our audience in mind; bringing together Tasty’s culinary insights and innovative AI technology to help our community navigate every part of the cooking process,” said Tasty General Manager, Hannah Bricker, to Businesswire. “We’re excited to collaborate with our users to continue adapting and improving this AI-powered chefbot based on their feedback — leveraging new technologies to enhance the cooking experience online and in the kitchen.”
Big Data and Billions of Recipes
Tasty enjoys over 1 billion cross-platform views each month and is widely regarded as the most robust and user-generated food community and platform on the internet. According to Buzzfeed internal data available on its website, Buzzfeed apps and properties (Buzzfeed; Tasty; Huffington Post; and First We Feast, the company behind Hot Ones) claim the top spot among time spent among millennials and Gen Z with over 550 million organic followers and 7 in 10 users who make content purchases inspired from its family of brands. That the big cheese of big apps and data is involved with AI recommending food choices and providing budget and grocery tips should not surprise anyone.
“Looking ahead, we can expect many more AI applications in the food industry,” said Juliet Dreamhunter, an AI & productivity consultant, to The Food Institute. “And as AI becomes increasingly integrated into our homes, AI-driven tech could completely transform our cooking experience.”
Dreamhunter said that AI-powered kitchens will not be far behind. Imagine some smart, Jetsonian pantry of the future that keeps track of inventory, can suggest recipes based on what’s on the shelves or in the fridge (or both…combined!), and that can also consider dietary restrictions, automatically place orders for kitchen staple refills, even monitor the seasons to suggest summer or holiday meals or dessert.
“It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie but so do other things we are already witnessing,” she continued. “I believe the real breakthroughs will occur in personalization. AI could tailor recommendations not only based on available ingredients but also taking into account personal tastes, nutritional needs, local seasonal produce, and even mood patterns.”
AI, however, can’t sample a marinade or check the char on a steak or vegetable in real time. And though it was one of the first to market with a decent app and fun application, Tasty may have a ways to go before more widespread adoption of its vulpine recipe generator and kitchen tool.
“Everyone wants to hitch a wagon to AI right now and the market to provide food ideas is crowded,” said Brian Brown, president and partner of food marketing agency, Ingredient.
“With this, Botatouille is well-executed. Food is a natural space for a tool like this and at Ingredient, we expect to see numerous brands adopt a similar model into their apps and websites over the next year as generated AI is far from being a fad. However, one thing AI can’t help you do is learn how to cook, so the true art of mastering a recipe will be left up to the consumer.”
Brown notes that people love to graze good food content – as TikTok reigns supreme as the most powerful platform for new food content (after helping launch Pink Sauce, the Keithadilla, and the more recent and existentially mortifying Grimace shake and horror vids), swiping up or right for more food content is as popular as any other movement has ever been via the digital realm.
“It’s a form of entertainment and a never-ending pool of inspiration,” Brown noted, and “This is just a new way for folks to have open access to food libraries and continue to get creative in the kitchen.”
It would be impossible to write a piece about Botatouille without mentioning Remy, Pixar’s rat-turned-chef forebear in Ratatouille. “If you are what you eat,” he says early in the film, “then I only want to eat the good stuff.” There’s no doubt Tasty and Botatouille will help users achieve the good stuff, and while the fearless can be great – at least according to Anton Ego, food critic with the coffin-shaped office – Botatouille should help take some of the guesswork out of a truly simple, delightful, or nouveau meal for restaurateurs and consumers alike. Just don’t ask it how to fold in the cheese – you can’t do that unless you put the phone down, grab a spatula, and thrust your hands in the dough.