Can you build a foodie app in 3 days using Generative AI? (Spoiler alert: yes!)

Author: Thomas De Vos, Innovation Strategist - The Reference

When Monday morning starts with the announcement: “The six of us are going to build a new brand, and app, from scratch, in the next 3 days,” you know it’s time to strap in. That’s how a rollercoaster of a week kicked off for our colleagues at The Reference. Here’s what happened…

Monday – the recipe for a new brand

All good projects begin with a brainstorm. The team soon cooked up the concept of a fictional startup, selling premium, sustainable ingredients, to customers truly serious about their food. A mobile app, rather than a web presence, seemed the practical choice for someone who’s busy in a kitchen.

With the help of ChatGPT, ‘Finest Flavours’ was chosen as the name for this new brand. Then it was time to build the brand story. To do this, the team enlisted the help of Midjourney and created a visual house style and logo that captured the heart of Finest Flavours’ commitment to nothing but the best ingredients.

Then came the tech bit. The team made sure that Finest Flavours could use their existing tech stack in a MACH, using contentful as headless CMS, and a composable setting. They chose OpenAI ChatGPT and Dall-E for text and image generation.

By the end of the day, they had a clear path mapped out for the rest of their journey.

Tuesday – generative AI cooks up a storm

On Tuesday they took a deeper dive into generative AI and prompt engineering, starting with ChatGPT‘s foodie theme suggestions, such as ‘Meat Lovers’, ‘Healthy and Light’, ‘Vegan’ and more.

Using Contentful’s headless CMS, our intrepid team created a side bar widget, to start generating their juicy content directly within the CMS. They applied this first to the list of ingredients, enriching the existing data with generated information like usage patterns, cultural context, and alternatives.

They say we eat with our eyes, so the right images were essential, and Dall-E’s generated images worked a treat.

Recipes were a key feature of the app. The idea was for users to pick three core ingredients, and a specific theme, eg, ‘Healthy and Light’ and the app would generate a tasty recipe, on the spot. But they didn’t stop there. Users could narrow it down further by number of servings, cooking time, family-friendly meals, cost, and the drinks that would complement the meal perfectly.

Wednesday – a new app, hot and fresh out of the kitchen

For Finest Flavours’ front-end, the team once again turned to Chat GPT, which did not disappoint, creating an intuitive information architecture which, in their words guided them ‘like a culinary GPS’.

While the wireframes were being designed, trusty ChatGPT was set to work mapping content themes to fun personas, full of word play and punning, such as ‘Carnivore Connoisseur’ and ‘Pressed for Thyme’.  

For the endgame, the team, led by Midjourney’s designs, chose Flutter to build their app. As a final flourish, they added the ‘Enlighten Me’ feature, which, after the app has delivered the user’s personalised recipes, generative AI explain why it’s a match made in culinary heaven.

They were finally ready to serve up the fruits of their labour, all done and dusted – without brand strategists, marketers, content editors, or subject specialists. Just a group of creatives, some innovative thinking and the power of AI. While it certainly needed some human curation, what AI managed to achieve in just three days was truly impressive. You can read the original blog, and find out more, on The Reference‘s website.

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