I asked 5 AI image generators to create 'the perfect meal' — here's what happened

Leonardo AI image
(Image credit: Leonardo AI image/Future)

You can use AI image generators to boost your productivity at work or get your creative juices flowing when coming up with design concepts but have you ever tried using them to fantasize about what the perfect meal could look like?

Asking your friend group to pick the perfect meal will surely kick off a heated discussion. Tucking into a juicy burger at the end of a long week can hit all the right spots. Equally, a more sophisticated meal at a high-end restaurant with nice company can also be a well-deserved treat.

Suffice to say, we’re likely to disagree on what constitutes the perfect meal but we can compromise on what constitutes an aesthetically pleasing dish. If AI is truly going to become a more integral part of our lives it’s going to have to understand what makes us tick. 

With food being such an integral part of our family lives and culture, I was curious to know what AI image generators think of when we ask them to create the perfect meal

To find out, I picked 5 iconic dishes from each of French, Indian, Japanese, Italian, and Mexican cuisine and asked 5 leading AI image generators to present them with a modern twist.

1. Beef Bourguignon by Midjourney

Midjourney

(Image credit: Midjourney/Future AI)

This French beef stew featuring tender beef chunks enveloped in a lovely red wine sauce is a classic French dish coming from France’s Burgundy region. 

Midjourney seems to have slow-cooked the meat to perfection and paired it with a couple of potatoes to complete the hearty meal. The AI image generator also took an extra moment to decorate the plate.

2. Chicken biryani by Leonardo

Leonardo AI image

(Image credit: Leonardo AI image/Future)

For this round I turned to Leonardo’s Phoenix model, its new advanced standard-setting model, which did not disappoint. 

While Leonardo stuck to a more traditional-looking biryani, it generated a healthy portion that just invites you to grab a seat at the table and tuck in. It garnered extra points in my book for the nice composition of the image as the model included a couple of side dishes including a dhal.

3. Yakitori by Ideogram

Ideogram

(Image credit: Ideogram/Future AI)

Next up was the Toronto-based text-to-image generator Ideogram which was asked to recreate Yakitori, a Japanese dish usually made by grilling skewered chicken. 

Its approach can be described as one that favors simplicity or very strict portion control – nevertheless, aesthetically Ideogram did not disappoint. While it seems to be the only image generator that made an effort to add something extra to the dish, it also needlessly added an extra skewer. Something I would have happily forgiven had it come along with more pieces of chicken.

4. Pizza ai Funghi by Adobe Firefly

Adobe Firefly

(Image credit: Adobe Firefly 3/Future generated AI image)

I asked Adobe Firefly for its take on an Italian funghi pizza but we also added in the potential extra challenge of asking for a vegan version of the doughy dish. In reality, it could go ahead with vegan cheese toppings but I was curious to see how it would handle this extra bit of information. 

The result was unfortunately the most cartoonish-looking image of the lot even though I specifically requested an AI image that looked like a regular photo. The pizza itself also doesn’t seem too inviting.

5. Tacos Al Pastor by DALL-E 3

DALL-E 3

(Image credit: DALL-E 3/Future AI)

Finally, could DALL-E, the AI image generator powering image creation in both ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot whip up a delicious plate of Tacos Al Pastor? !

What the image lacked in realism it made up for with a healthy portion of taco fillings. As for the modern twist it opted for eggs served sunny side up and even garnished them with some fresh pepper. The plate is surrounded by everyone’s favorite taco toppings.

Final thoughts

While Midjourney, Leonardo, and Ideogram delivered scrumptious results, an overarching lesson learnt was that simply asking the AI image generators to add a modern twist did not produce the intended effect. 

Nevertheless, if you’re inspired to create your own dish you can describe it in a prompt and have a rough idea of what it could look like presented on a plate.

We'd love to see your own AI food creations. If you want to share them you can email ryan.morrison@futurenet.com.

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Christoph Schwaiger

Christoph Schwaiger is a journalist who mainly covers technology, science, and current affairs. His stories have appeared in Tom's Guide, New Scientist, Live Science, and other established publications. Always up for joining a good discussion, Christoph enjoys speaking at events or to other journalists and has appeared on LBC and Times Radio among other outlets. He believes in giving back to the community and has served on different consultative councils. He was also a National President for Junior Chamber International (JCI), a global organization founded in the USA. You can follow him on Twitter @cschwaigermt.