How to Generate (Almost) Anything

The ultimate human-AI collaboration

August 30, 2018 / by / In food

Episode 2: Human-AI Collaborated Pizza

TL;DR? Check out the Youtube video of this project!

Note: the tunes we used in this video is generated by our music expert AI, Halleck from Episode 1 of How to Make (Almost) Anything. Please give him some love, and use some of his tunes to create your own human-AI collaborated music!

In this episode of How to Generate (Almost) Anything, we collaborated with Tony Naser, owner and chef of Crush Pizza in Boston to make human-AI collaborated pizzas!

Meet the AI-pizza team. From left to right: Tony, George, Pinar and Deeksha.

We collected hundreds of artisan pizza recipes from various food blogs and recipe websites, and then we trained a recurrent neural network to generate new ones. Some of the recipes we ended up with were really weird (like shrimp, jam & Italian sausage pizza), and some of them actually looked yummy (like sweet potato, beans & brie pizza).

Note: to keep the recipes consistent across different sources (and to make our chef focus more on the ingredients rather than instructions), we reduced the instructions about how to make the pizza dough into ‘1 pizza crust’ phrase.

Most of the times, the recipes were not complete (for instance, some of them were missing sauce or base cheese), or were calling for non-existing ingredients the AI dreamed-up (like ‘snipped caramel cheese’ or ‘wale walnut ranch dressing’) which was definitely calling for a human-AI collaboration! So we wondered: can a pizza chef look at the recipes, complete what is missing (or add new ingredients using his own expertise) to create something even better?

With that in mind, we contacted with Tony, owner and chef of Crush Pizza, one of the best artisan pizza places in Boston. Pinar was particularly obsessed with cooking the human-AI collaborated pizza in a traditional Italian wood-fired oven, so Crush Pizza’s blazing 900-degree wood-fired oven was a perfect fit. Tony was really excited to collaborate with the AI, and invited us to his place on a hot Saturday afternoon. We ended up putting on some aprons and experienced the amazing world of pizza making first hand! Here are five pizzas that we cooked with Tony:

Human-AI collaborated pizzas we made with Tony at Crush Pizza

We videotaped the whole process (via our mobile phones –so excuse us for the potato quality) which you can watch on Youtube (if you are up for it, there is a longer version (25 mins) with more detail). Watching the video with closed captions on is highly recommended. And please subscribe to our channel if you want to get updates about new episodes!

Pizza #1: Blueberry, Spinach and Feta Pizza

1 pizza crust
Spinach leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chunky cranked red onion
1 tablespoon crumbed feta cheese
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 head garlic, roasted
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 wedge of lime
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Tony and Deeksha while making the Blueberry, Spinach and Feta Pizza. Bottom right: the human-AI collaborated pizza in the 900-degree oven!

You can watch how we made this pizza from here and the tasting from here.

Human-AI collaboration: As you can see from the recipe above, some of the ingredients were a little weird (like ‘chunky cranked’ red onion or ‘wedge of’ lime). Aside from those, this recipe was calling for a pizza sauce (which is a red sauce). However, Tony thought white sauce would go better with the ingredients and decided to do a white pizza. Also, he decided to add a little bit of spice (crushed red peppers) since it will contrast with blueberries and add more flavor.

Result: Overall, we think that it was an interesting pizza. However, blueberries were kind of melted out and most of us couldn’t really taste them!

Pizza #2: Bacon, Avocado and Peach Pizza

1 pizza crust
1 medium sized red peppers, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 ½ cups crispy bacon, diced
1/2 avocado, cut in slices
1 peach, cut in half
1 cup parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
kosher salt

Tony and George while making the Bacon, Avocado and Peach Pizza. Bottom right: the human-AI collaborated pizza in the 900-degree oven!

You can watch how we made this pizza from here and the tasting from here.

Human-AI collaboration: This time, the ingredients were a little bit better, except that the recipe had no sauce. Tony intervened and decided to use olive oil, and a little bit of parmesan cheese to create the base.

Result: It was a great pizza! (especially, for avocado fans like Pinar) It gave us a similar taste & feeling of the Hawaiian pizzas. George said that he would order this at a restaurant, yay!

Pizza #3: Shrimp, Jam and Italian Sausage Pizza

1 pizza crust
3 ounces grilled shrimp, cooked and sliced
6 spicy Italian sausage, cooked, crumbled
1 ounce reduced-fat goat cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium-sized jam
1/3 cup wale walnut ranch dressing
1/8 cucumber, chopped
1/4 tsp. Pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Tony and Pinar while making the Shrimp, Jam and Italian Sausage Pizza.

You can watch how we made this pizza from here and the tasting from here.

Human-AI collaboration: This recipe was definitely the weirdest among all. In addition to combining jam with shrimp and sausage, AI also dreamed-up some non-existing ingredients such as ‘wale walnut ranch dressing’. A quick investigation of the training data revealed a few recipes containing jam (mostly from dessert pizzas), so it seemed like the AI picked it up from there.

We discussed with Tony about the possibility of using regular ‘ranch dressing’ instead of the ‘wale walnut’ one, but he ruled it out saying that the ranch dressing will ruin the flavors of the shrimp and sausage.

This recipe had no sauce as well, so Tony decided to use garlic sauce with parmesan cheese to add a little bit more flavor. He also decided to use mozzarella to have a ‘stringy’ pizza effect, and sprinkled a little bit of rosemary on top (which goes well with the shrimp according to him).

Result: We didn’t really see it coming but it was definitely the BEST pizza of all (so good that Tony is considering to put it on his menu!) Jam really went well with the shrimp and Italian sausage. After the tasting, Tony also decided to put some arugula on top which really elevated the taste as well (human-AI collaboration, yay!).

Pizza #4: Sweet Potato, Beans & Brie Pizza

1 pizza crust
1/2 cup fat-free refried beans
½ medium sweet potatoes
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 ounces of brie
1/2 sweet White onion
2 sliced salami
3 garlic cloves
dried and chopped cilantro
2 tbsp pesto sauce
1 cup aged Greek yogurt

Tony and Pinar while making Sweet Potato, Beans & Brie Pizza

You can watch how we made this pizza from here and the tasting from here.

Human-AI collaboration: As sweet potato (and brie cheese) fans, many of us were really excited to taste this pizza! Tony followed most of the recipe except adding salami (since we wanted to make a vegeterian pizza for Deeksha).

Result: At first, we were a bit disappointed to realize that the pizza was a bit bland –we couldn’t really sense any particular flavor. After the initial tasting, Tony followed AI’s salami suggestion and voila! it really elevated the taste. The second alteration Tony made after the tasting was to add balsamic sauce. It indeed gave a much better flavor!

Pizza #5: Apricot, Pear, Cranberry & Ricotta pizza

1 pizza crust
1/2 cup apricot preserves
¾ cup dried cranberries
1 pear, chopped
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 c. marinara sauce
1 can of tomato sauce
¼ t. chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 oz. of cinnamon

Tony and George while making the Apricot, Pear, Cranberry & Ricotta Pizza.

You can watch how we made this pizza from here and the tasting from here.

Human-AI collaboration: This time, it seems like we chose more of a dessert pizza –except that it was calling for a marinara sauce (and a can of tomato sauce, because why not?) and chili powder. Luckily, our human expert Tony quickly ruled out marinara and tomato sauces and went with olive oil and parmesan cheese base. We couldn’t find any dessert pizza recipes that was calling for a chili powder, and upon a quick investigation it seems like the AI picked ‘chili powder’ ingredient from Mexican pizzas. But we were really intrigued to taste a ‘hot’ dessert pizza!

Result: It was definitely a great pizza! After the tasting, Tony add a drizzle of habanero-infused honey on top which seemed to make it a truly (hot!!) dessert pizza.

Do you want to collaborate with the AI?

Try out some of the pizza recipes we made, or use the recipes below to make a new pizza that is dreamed-up by AI. Send us pictures and videos (and your suggestions to the recipes), and we will add them here!

Spinach, Bacon & Fig Pizza

1 pizza crust
1 cup baby leaf spinach, finely chopped
5 slices of bacon, crispy, chopped
1/2 anchovic figs
½ cup crumbled bleu cheese dressing
4 cups mozzarella, grated
½ cup Monterey Jack cheese
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Beef, Salmon, Olives & Zucchini pizza

1 pizza crust
1 cup ground beef, cooked
salmon, cut into thin slices
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 medium zucchini, split
1/2 cup sugar snick or shredded mozzarella
1/2 tsp. chopped basil

Artichoke, Pesto & Mozzarella Pizza

1 pizza crust
½ medium wined artichokes
2 tablespoons pesto
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
Finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sundried shredded sweet parsley
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
Kosher salt, to taste

Chicken, Basil & Blueberry Pizza

1 pizza crust
1 cup cooked chicken breasts
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 cup baby greens
1 pint fresh blueberries, quartered
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Steak, Bacon & Zucchini Pizza

1 pizza crust
3 ounces lean steak, shredded
5 strips of bacon, cooked and sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pizza sauce
½ cup chunky salsa
1 cup brown sugar

Beef, Arugula & Artichoke Pizza

1 pizza crust
6 oz. beef
1 1/2 artichoke hearts
4 tablespoons arugula
2 oz. blue cheese
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Prosciutto, Avocado & Almonds Pizza

1 pizza crust
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Avocado, peeled and dried
2 slices prosciutto
3 eggs, beaten and scrambled
¼ cup mixed baby greens
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 small cheddar cheese
2 cups cilantro
1/2 tomato
½ lemon

Broccoli, Figs & Pineapple Pizza

1 pizza crust
fresh broccoli, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh figs, sliced thin slices
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
½ cup pineapple juice
Peanuts, cooked

Zucchini, Cheddar & Caramel pizza

1 pizza crust
1/2 large zucchini, spiralized lengthwise or cheese, shredded
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
sun-dried tomatoes, sliced in half
fresh garlic, minced
1 lemon
snipped caramel cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chunky cranked broth

Want more? Just send us an e-mail!

Special Thanks to Crush Pizza

Tony and his crew were super welcoming to us, and made this amazing experiment possible. Please give them some love by visiting their place (107 State St, Boston) or order online!

The famous 900-degree wood-fired ovens of Crush Pizza.

Special Thanks to Strono

Strono is the chef AI that generated the pizza recipes in this episode. In addition to sharing a similar eye condition with his namesake, Strono is also fond of experimenting and likes to suggest limited (or non-existing) ingredients anchovic figs or snipped caramel cheese (probably, just to baffle his human collaborators).

Note: Strono’s profile picture is also dreamed-up by an AI.