August 15, 2014
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Kim Smithers’ Smashed Potato Salad.​

One of Bi-Lo Holdings Sales and Marketing Senior Manager Kim Smithers’ recipes for potato salad has been given a place of honor in Bon Appetit through a challenge with IBM Chef Watson.

IBM’s high-profile Watson “cognitive computing” system and Bon Appétit magazine have been working together to create Chef Watson – a computer program that has the ability to apply cooking creativity and make totally new recipes. Bon Appétit loaded 9,000 recipes and created profiles so Watson could learn which ingredients could be combined to make a variety of timely summer cookout recipes.

But one type of recipe had been overlooked – Potato salad. So the magazine turned to its readers, and advertised a challenge on its Facebook page: create a recipe using 12 specific ingredients, no more, no less. The winning recipe would be entered into Watson’s database in its author’s name.

“I saw that and thought, ‘that’s really cool; I can do that,’” Smithers said. “So I put it together.”

Smithers had to bring a dish for a family barbecue the next day, so she underwent a late-night cooking session and considered the required ingredients: potato, watercress, scallion, ginger, black peppercorns, vegetable oil, canola oil, oregano, thyme, buttermilk, dark brown sugar, mayonnaise. Seeing that the recipe included two kinds of oil, she twice cooked the potatoes, first boiling them, then smashing and roasting them until they had a crispy exterior.

The result was a delicious, crunchy potato salad with an interesting twist. The “Smashed Potato Salad” was born – and it was the recipe the magazine chose as the winner.

“It’s best served warm, the day of. Fresh as you like,” Smithers said. “The crispy potatoes with the watercress and creamy dressing make it a wonderful salad.”

Smithers said she’s proud to have made a contribution to the national recipe database.

“I prefer the creativity of cooking as opposed to the science of cooking,” she said.

See the recipe here.

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