Chef Uses AI Software To Create Recipes For Vegan Comfort Food

NotCompany, a startup from Chile, has created software called "Giuseppe" that can learn what's in food and develops multiple recipes with vegan ingredients. They hope to work with major corporations to change how we consume our food.


May 20 2019, Updated 1:07 p.m. ET

Artificial intelligence has the ability to replace ingredients from traditional foods with healthy, plant-based alternatives. Chilean startup NotCompany looks to shake up the food industry with their new software, called “Giuseppe,” that’s able to discover what’s in food and recreate it with a vegan twist. They’ve already succeeded with vegan mayonnaise and are looking toward the future with their new technology.

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NotCo was founded two years ago with a goal to change how the world consumes food. They wanted it to be healthier and more sustainable for the environment. After all, livestock farming creates up to 50 percent of all manmade carbon dioxide emissions. A few pounds of beef emits the equivalent of burning six liters of gasoline.

Founder and CEO, Matias Muchnick, developed Giuseppe that was able to learn what’s in our meat, eggs, and dairy products and it would be able to process vegan ingredients to replace it. The name “Giuseppe” comes from Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who was famous for his creations of human portraits made out of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

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One common problem the machine aims to fix with vegan options is instead of mimicking it, it attempts to match it chemically, molecularly, and nutritionally. This provides a more satisfying final product that’s close to the traditional version. The company’s first attempt was creating vegan mayo that was made from peas, basil, potatoes, and canola oil instead of dairy products.

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More dairy products are on the way, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. NotCo has also been in talks with major corporations like Mars and Coca-Cola on creating alternative versions of sweets like chocolate and soft drinks. Muchnick told Reuters last year that the goal was to not create their own products, but to work with others with Giuseppe.

“We are a tech company, not a food company. We want to capitalize ourselves by developing products for other companies...We want to promote these products as mainstream. It will only have an impact if meat-eaters who don’t care about sustainability buy them.”

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In order for NotCo’s machine to be successful, it has to work with humans. Giuseppe spits out numerous recipes after obtaining information about a specific food. It’s then up to human interaction to testdrive the new food. Rankings are split up based on texture, color, and flavor comparisons to the original. 

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“These large food companies don’t want to make themselves extinct—they don’t want that Kodak moment,” Sarah Smith, research director at Institute for the Future, told The Ringer. “Part of the hope of what this technology can do is figure out how to continue delivering on the same taste and quality and texture that people are used to, while also meeting these other demands."

Plant-based foods have only started to catch on, and NotCo clearly has a focus to attract everybody to the products Giuseppe can create. Assuming they’re able to pass food regulations, we’ll see if these vegan options can cause a rift in the industry.

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