The Zest is a smart spice rack that tells you how best to season your food

zest smart spice rack finalform

Handling spices requires a deft hand. Be overzealous, and you’ll murder to your guests’ taste buds. Be too conservative, and your guests will wonder if they’ve eaten anything at all. But now, there’s a way to walk that fine line and prove yourself worthy of master-chef status every time. It’s called Zest, and it’s a smart kiosk that makes use of computer vision to recommend which spices to use for what food.

The problem with spices, of course, is that there are just so many of them. And alas, seeing as we haven’t all been to culinary school, we’re not intimately familiar with when marjoram leaf should be used, or when we should be throwing in some saffron. And given that some spices are practically worth their weight in gold, we probably ought to educate ourselves (and exercise some restraint).

Enter the Zest, a clever machine that uses image recognition technology to identify the contents of a seasoned dish, and will then provide the cook or diner with a list of “spice recipes.” Each of these recipes promises to “a unique flavor that can be created with a mix of spices.” And as you swipe through the recipes, the required spices will be highlighted on the adjacent, connected spice rack, so you don’t have to waste time hunting for the right name.

While this would certainly be a welcome addition to a home (both as an organizational tool and as a kitchen assistant), the Zest team says that the ideal location of its smart machine is currently a college dining hall, as these locales “tend to serve conservatively seasoned food.” And given college students’ proclivities to try new things, Zest could open up a whole new world for them. But more importantly, having Zest around could help improve students’ “baseline spice literacy that will help them as they begin cooking as adults.”