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Amazon’s Alexa can be your extra hands in the kitchen with ChefSteps’ Joule

ChefSteps' Joule sous vide now works with Facebook Messenger, too

Why it matters to you

Conversational cooking is all about making the process of preparing dinner easier and ChefSteps is doing it with Amazon and Facebook.

ChefSteps wants to give you as much help as you need in the kitchen. Just a couple months after we learned that Alexa could take charge of ChefSteps‘ sous vide low-temperature water cooking appliance, Joule, we’ve discovered that the Seattle-based cooking startup has made it possible for you to control the Joule using Facebook Messenger.

Cooking sous-vide is a technique in which food in a vacuum bag is cooked in “precisely controlled, low-temperature water,” according to the ChefSteps website. The ChefSteps Joule sous vide appliance has an accompanying smartphone app. The app lets you set precise temperature settings, comes with recipes with instructions for cooking with the Joule. There is also a “visual doneness” guide to help set the exact temperature for how you want your food cooked. In addition, the Joule app will notify you when the water is hot and when your food is ready. Now Alexa and Facebook Messenger are in the pot, too.

Related: Alexa, You’ve got competition. Google Home wants to run your household

The initial Alexa implementation, made available in October, lets you ask Alexa to turn the unit on or off, set the water temperature, and report the current water temperature. According to ChefSteps, the company will watch how its customers use the device with Alexa and expand skills and tasks from the feedback. They will be training the Alexa skill set how to cook steak and other specific foods.

According to ChefSteps writer Jessica Voelker, “We started thinking about voice control and it’s basically like having a second set of hands in the kitchen. Just the same way a chef could yell out ‘fire that dish’ at a line cook, you can do that with Alexa.”

As for the Facebook Messenger integration, ChefSteps wrote in a Medium post, you can now control your sous vide machine’s cooking time with text. “Right this minute, you can head to Messenger to start the Joule sous vide tool, check in on a cook, or change your desired temperature,” the company said. “Joulebot is already a pretty good customer service agent and is studying hard so it can offer tons of kitchen tips in the days to come.”

Why go to Facebook Messenger, though? ChefSteps said that they’re simply following the crowd. “Facebook is where people are (1.86 billion of them, all told. And eight in 10 adult internet users in the U.S.) And anyway, Conversational Cooking isn’t about a single website; it’s about offering options that fit naturally into people’s lives,” the Medium post reads. “It’s about talking to them in a human way, through familiar interfaces.”

But don’t worry — if Alexa and Facebook aren’t your things, ChefSteps will soon be innovating once again to help you cook the way you like.

Article originally published in October 2016. Updated on 02-17-2017 by Lulu Chang: Added news of Facebook Messenger integration.