Cooking up an educational competition: Harvard faculty member develops game to teach people about food and flavor (link)
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 11 April 2019.
Chef League becomes Available for Pre-order on the App Store
CHEF LEAGUE – New Game Helps You Improvise Recipes Like Pro Chefs Launches for Pre-Order at SXSW (link to press release)
Now available on the App Store for Pre-Order is the world’s first research-based game proven to teach you how to think more like an expert chef and make healthier, flavorful choices. The game was created by Dr. Beth Altringer (Harvard engineering and MSMBA program faculty, and former champion taster) with machine learning to help people learn to improvise delicious, healthy recipes. Think Duolingo or Rosetta Stone meets Guitar Hero… for learning what expert chefs know.
CHEF LEAGUE stands out from existing food media and games with these unique features:
- Science-quality flavor analytics gamified for learning, when similar quality analytics are not gamified and usually only used to power major website recipe search
- High-end food media graphics, when other games are animated
- Multi-player competition inspired by reality TV cooking shows, which is new
- Bite-sized gameplay sessions
- Intended for gamers and non-gamers alike
After three years of bootstrapped development, Beth Altringer launched Chef League for Pre-Order on International Women’s Day during the SXSW Festival in Austin. Chef League features a set of “AI Chefs” that live inside the game. These chefs represent common preference patterns derived from scientific flavor data and 1.5 million natural language reviews of real recipes. They function like automated reality TV chef judges, each ‘voting’ according to historical palate preferences. They exist to help players casually learn. Prior to its public launch, Chef League is focused on building community and forming partnerships. Burak Cakmak, Dean at Parsons School of Design, recently joined the advisory board.
Background the Founder of Chef League – During graduate school, Altringer trained with the Cambridge University Blind Wine Tasting Society and went on to compete internationally, winning the competition hosted by Bollinger Champagne House in France. In 2015, she began quantifying flavor more broadly, creating the Flavor Genome Project (FGP) to study patterns in food flavor perception. The project integrated scientific flavor data, analysis of real recipe reviews, and research on how chefs and sommeliers learn. In 2017, she had the idea to turn FGP’s research into what would become Chef League.
“I admire people who, faced with an empty kitchen pantry, can whip up a masterpiece. I built this game initially to teach myself how chefs improvise and fix recipe problems on the fly. My larger goal is to provide a platform for other people to learn from experts by gaming.” – Beth Altringer, Chef League