Is artificial intelligence going to take over my job as a food and restaurant reporter? I sure hope not!
I have been hearing a lot lately about the advances of AI and how it could one day replace humans — so I decided to do my own investigative journalism and see what ChatGPT had to say about Memphis restaurants and our world famous barbecue.
Jennifer: I started with the question: “What are the 10 best restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee?”
ChatGPT responded with this list, and a disclaimer that its data has not be updated since September 2021.
- The Capital Grille: Upscale steakhouse with a refined atmosphere and excellent service.
- Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken: Known for its spicy and delicious fried chicken.
- Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar: Offers a unique concept of small plates and wine pairings.
- Central BBQ: Famous for its Memphis-style barbecue and a must-visit for BBQ enthusiasts.
- Restaurant Iris: Serves upscale Southern cuisine with a focus on fresh, local ingredients.
- Hog & Hominy: Features inventive Italian-inspired dishes and wood-fired pizzas.
- Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House: A classic steakhouse with a long-standing reputation.
- Babalu Tacos & Tapas: Offers a fusion of Latin-inspired dishes, including tacos and tapas.
- The Beauty Shop Restaurant: A quirky and stylish eatery serving contemporary American fare.
- Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen: Offers inventive Italian dishes with a focus on locally sourced ingredients.
Jennifer: It’s a decent list, but missing several of Memphis’ top-rated restaurants, as well as several new spots that deserve to be on this list.
Jennifer: I then asked ChatGPT, “What are the best barbecue restaurants in Memphis?”
ChatGPT responded with a pretty good list, but with two errors (one glaring, and one not so obvious):
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Jennifer: I am sure the listing of Gus’s on a barbecue list jumped out to you too.
And anyone who has eaten at Payne’s knows this barbecue joint does not serve “pulled” pork, but instead serves “chopped” pork sandwiches. The sound of owner Flora Payne’s cleaver chopping pork shoulder to order is as iconic as the barbecue restaurant itself.
Jennifer: So, I said to Chat GPT, “Gus’s Fried Chicken does not serve barbecue. Why is it on your best barbecue in Memphis list?”
ChatGPT responded with an apology.
“Apologies for the confusion in my previous response. You are absolutely right. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is known for its delicious fried chicken and does not serve barbecue. It was an error on my part to include Gus’s in the list of best barbecue restaurants in Memphis. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”
A review of The Bar-B-Q Shop
Jennifer: I then asked ChatGPT to write a 100-word review of The Bar-B-Q Shop.
ChatGPT responded with a pretty generic review.
“The Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis, TN is a true gem for barbecue aficionados. Nestled in the heart of the city, this unassuming eatery delivers an unforgettable dining experience. The moment you step inside, the tantalizing scent of hickory-smoked meats envelops you. Their succulent ribs, tender pulled pork, and flavorful brisket are nothing short of heavenly. The array of house-made sauces, from tangy to sweet, complements the meats perfectly. The friendly staff and rustic ambiance add to the charm. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this iconic barbecue joint is an absolute must-visit when in Memphis.”
Jennifer: It is an enticing review, but it gives no mention of this being a family-owned business that originated Memphis’ famous barbecue spaghetti or that owner Eric Vernon is the only person who makes its signature “secret-recipe” barbecue sauce. The review could be about many of Memphis’ barbecue restaurants.
I then asked if ChatGPT had eaten there.
ChatGPT responded, “As an AI language model, I don’t have personal experiences or the ability to eat at restaurants. My responses are generated based on patterns in the data I’ve been trained on, which includes general knowledge about various topics up to September 2021. My previous response about The Bar-B-Q-Shop in Memphis, TN, was based on the information available up to that point, but I haven’t personally dined there. If you have any specific questions about the restaurant or anything else, feel free to ask!”
Jennifer: I then asked a very controversial question: “Is Memphis the barbecue capital of the world?”
ChatGPT did not quite answer the question directly.
“Memphis is often considered one of the barbecue capitals of the United States, and its barbecue culture is renowned worldwide. While it may not officially hold the title of the ‘barbecue capital of the world,’ it has a well-deserved reputation for its unique style of barbecue and its significant contribution to the barbecue tradition in the United States.”
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Jennifer: I then asked my dreaded question, “Will you take over my job as a reporter?”
Chat GPT: “As an AI language model, I don’t have personal desires or the ability to take on jobs. My purpose is to assist and provide information to users like you. However, I can certainly help you with your job as a food and restaurant reporter by providing information, writing samples, or generating content related to food and restaurants. If you have any specific requests or need assistance with anything related to your role, feel free to ask!”
Jennifer: That’s a relief!
Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.
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