Thanksgiving Made Easy: AI Takes The Stress Out Of Recipe Planning

4 minutes read

Key points:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) dishes food recipes for Thanksgiving in seconds, just by looking at a still image of a dish.
  • AI enables a social network to recognize dishes. Its food recognition feature is powered by machine learning, which discovers ingredients and entire meals.
  • Folks won't run out of conversation starters for Thanksgiving anymore. All thanks to AI.


Hosting a Thanksgiving holiday dinner for friends and family can be stressful, as you want to treat your loved ones to a tasty meal they will remember for a long time. Let AI take away half of the burden. With AI, you can create delicious delicacies for your dear ones this holiday season and beyond.

Researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) suggested that analyzing food pictures from social media feeds could help us find recipes. They presented their paper, "Learning cross-modal embeddings for cooking recipes and food images," at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Honolulu.

The team created an artificial neural network called Pic2Recipe that has been trained to recognize food from more than one million recipes. The neural network takes a good glance at the photo of food, predicts the ingredients, and suggests similar recipes. The data set of more than a million food pictures is being used as an input for the neural network. Recipes from,, or even food images by humans, are the feed for this neural network. It is the world's largest publicly available collection of recipe data, growing as more and more people upload images.

For instance, when it looks at an image of a sweet potato casserole, AI suggests a variety of similar potato dishes, such as Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole, Pecan Sweet Potato Bake, Sweet Potato Bake, and Sweet Potato Bake.

Similarly, an image of a cookie brings up recipes for baking cookies or cookie-related recipes.

See Pic2Recipe in action in this video:


Pic2Recipe is more than just about recipes, say the researchers who created it. Researchers want to understand people's eating habits with an eye toward cultivating the practice of having healthier diets. They want to get new insights into how diet affects people's health. This implies that the neural network looks for the nutritional value of the food as well. This helps researchers understand the kind of food people are consuming these days, and, at the same time, people get to know what's good for them.

Also read: Scaling Customer Service: How Automation Facilitates Growth

Pinterest's Shazam for food

The MIT researchers are not the first team to experiment using machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify food in photos. In May of last year, the virtual image-saving and sharing social network Pinterest revealed a new "dish recognition" feature that can broadly identify types of food in a photo. This feature will find you a recipe with just a click of your smartphone's camera. Pinterest rolled out this Feature as an all-new experimental technology within the app. Dish recognition is an extension of this tool and technology."

Pinterest neither officially acknowledges its "Shazam for food" tagline nor the fictional app. The platform told The Verge there is no similarity between its real feature and the fictional app.

In order to use Pinterest's dish recognition feature, you need to open the app and then click the camera icon on the upper right corner, which opens up the camera in your Pinterest app. When you point your smartphone's camera at a food item, either of a real food item or take food pictures from your picture gallery and snap a picture by touching the screen, Pinterest suggests words related to what you're looking at. The camera icon is then replaced by the picture you took and little floating text bubbles of similar terms appear under the search bar.

For example, taking a picture of corn may trigger the system to suggest multiple corn-related recipes. When the feature was launched, Pinterest Lens mentioned one of their recipes in a post on Twitter, and the view looked like this.

With MIT's neural network and Pinterest's dish recognition feature, you're all set for the big feast.  Now that we have AI to help with food preparation, can someone help us prepare with ideas for the inevitable dinner table conversations? How to ensure quality conversations that can make Thanksgiving memorable?

AI allows automatically picking up relatively friendly conversation starter topics for Thanksgiving dinner to avoid one deviating into tense family discussions, according to participants in a survey in the United States. Isn't that an add-on to your Thanksgiving celebration?

Thanksgiving is all about fun, food, togetherness and gratitude. So, get together with family and friends and enjoy the food. But as your guests smack their lips enjoying the recipe you made with the help of AI, don't forget to thank AI. Happy Thanksgiving!

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