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Meet Oliver Zahn. The former head data scientist at Google is now the CEO of Climax Foods, a California based company committed to saving the planet by deploying artificial intelligence and data science to create a more sustainable way of feeding the world. 

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Can AI Make The Best (Vegan) Cheese Ever?

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Last week, I talked about my first disturbing encounter with AI—discovering a copycat of my cookbook on Amazon which many believe might have been produced by a robot. The mass exploitation of human creativity and art is no doubt one of the major drawbacks of the current explosion of artificial intelligence. So, it’s easy to see why some believe that we should do away with all forms of AI, that the next technological frontier is best left unexplored. But what about AI and food?

I’ve been vegan for over seven years. And for the most part? It’s been pretty easy. I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t say there were some tastes, textures, and food experiences that I miss. One of those is my grandmother’s gomtang—a Korean dish that used to take her days to make for me. Another? Ooey, gooey, melty, stretchy mozzarella cheese.

Enter: Oliver Zahn. The former head data scientist of Google is now the CEO of Climax Foods, a California based company committed to saving the planet by creating a more sustainable way to feed the world. Starting with cheese. How do robots fit into the picture? As Oliver describes, robots aren’t actually INSIDE the cheese, nor are the robots even MAKING the cheese. Instead, Zahn, a Harvard grad and astrophysicist, utilizes machine learning in order to collect, collate, and analyze enormous amounts of data to identify the best combination of plants to create delicious, nutritious, and cost-efficient foods.

There are over 300,000 edible plants on this planet, not to mention their innumerable derivations and combinations. Put simply, it would take thousands upon thousands of years to hire, teach, and compensate humans to experiment with all of them. Climax Foods utilizes AI to do that work for us—thus accelerating the process in time to, as I said, save the planet. Because here’s the thing y’all—we don’t have thousands of years to do that.

So, without further ado…

The Future of Food with Oliver Zahn

Apple | Spotify | Google

This Week’s Recipe Inspo – Korean BBQ “Meatballs”

In case you missed it, last week, I joined the dynamic morning duo, Kelly & Mark, to show them how I make my Korean BBQ Meatballs. You can watch the whole episode here. I came up with these “meatballs” for my next cookbook and they were SO SO good I couldn’t wait to share them with everyone on TV! One tip–make the mixture the night before. It’ll then have time to dry out a bit so that the meatballs are a bit sturdier when you sear them off and bake them. Otherwise, you can get the full recipe here!

Updates & Random Things.

  • What I’m Watching. We’ve made it through two whole seasons of The Americans. Is it addictive? Yes. Anthony and I are now fully invested in the characters. But is it “best TV drama of all time” quality? Nope. Not yet, at least. It definitely gives me Sopranos meets The Wire vibes, but thus far, the writing has been a little too inconsistent to merit even consideration for TV’s Mt. Rushmore.
  • What You’re Watching. Speaking of TV Mt. Rushmore, last week, I asked you to tell me what would be on your Mt. Rushmore of TV. Tammy, a new K-Drama-phile, recommends: VincenzoLittle Women, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, and Itaewon Class. Tammy added, “I am a Caucasian American and my daughter is Korean and when we discovered K-dramas it changed our worlds! I find the plots to be very interesting and they help me decompress because, although I’m learning Korean, I have to focus to read the English subtitles and can’t multitask while I’m watching.” Thanks Tammy!
  • What I’m Reading. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I am featured in the July issue of Food & Wine as a 2023 Game Changer. You can pick up a copy wherever you grab your favorite magazines or here!
  • Book Signing IN FRANCE! I’ll be in Cannes, France from Jun 19-22. If you’re in the area on the afternoon of June 22, let me know and I can add you to the list of folks I’m meeting up with to sign your books!

And that’s a wrap, everyone!!

– Joanne

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