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The Joule device is controlled via smartphone app, available for iPhone and Android. (ChefSteps Photo)

Modernist cuisine is getting even more modern.

ChefSteps, the Seattle-based high-tech cooking startup behind the Joule sous vide cooking device, now allows home cooks to control the smart appliance using Facebook Messenger. Just months after unveiling an Amazon Alexa skill that provides hands-free control of the Joule, the company is bringing more artificial intelligence to food preparation.

In a Medium post this week, ChefSteps painted a meal-making scenario that was part reality and part wishful thinking. The realistic part involved showing how someone leaving work can now chat with “Joulebot” on Messenger and get a jump start on preparing that evening’s meal. The company this week rolled out the ability to start the Joule, check in on an existing cooking session, or change temperature via Messenger.

The future/fantasy part of the story included the commuting cooker ordering his steak delivery by drone from Utah and having the meat dropped on his doorstep in 30 minutes. Someday!

Screen shots of the ChefSteps Joulebot in action on Facebook Messenger. (ChefSteps screen grabs)

Adding Messenger to the mix is all part of ChefStep’s goal of “creating the connected kitchen of tomorrow,” the company says, which it is focusing on through an AI initiative that it calls Conversational Cooking. The idea harnesses the power of ChefSteps’ large and dedicated community of sous vide enthusiasts — curious cooks who are constantly sharing ideas and knowledge on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere.

For those who view cooking and the kitchen as perhaps a chance to escape social media and stay off Facebook for a moment, ChefSteps answers to that:

“Here’s the thing: Facebook is where people are (1.86 billion of them, all told. And 8 in 10 adult internet users in the USA). And anyway, Conversational Cooking isn’t about a single website; it’s about offering options that fit naturally into people’s lives. It’s about talking to them in a human way, through familiar interfaces. Hate Facebook? Control Joule with the app or Alexa  —  or the app and Alexa. We’ll be adding new services as fast as we can to create a seamless experience that works on your terms.”

Chris Young
Chris Young, co-founder of ChefSteps demonstrating the Joule sous vide cooking device at GeekWire Summit 2016. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

ChefSteps was co-founded by Chris Young and Grant Crilly, who are known in part for their past roles collaborating with Nathan Myhrvold, the former Microsoft chief technology officer and sous vide master, on the “Modernist Cuisine” cookbook.

Young brought the $199 Joule to the 2016 GeekWire Summit as part of the Inventions We Love session. You can watch his presentation at the start of the video below:

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