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Cooking/Eating Geekery

18 Feb
Chef Hangout

Chef Hangout

I’m not afraid to qualify myself as a techie geek. And certainly since the invention of the iphone, my geekery has occasionally gotten a little out of control. It used to be that I *might* come home with a pair of shoes or boots, purchased during a moment of spontaneous weekend splurging, and my husband would say, “if you want to bring those in here, you have to throw out a pair.” (So I would throw out a pair of flip flops or something like that…or I would pretend to throw out a pair…or if necessary I would ignore him.) But now this trading game has been self-applied to iphone apps. I’ll come across a review of something and want to install it and try it out immediately. But now there are so many damn apps on my phone that I try to force myself to throw out one that I know I am not using for every new one that I put on the phone.

So yesterday I went through a whole bunch of PSFK reviews (a self-described “go-to source for new ideas and inspiration), and was a little overwhelmed with the number of foodie apps/sites. Seems like things are getting pretty interesting out there. It used to be that what you could find out there were mostly recipe database apps – admittedly some good ones (epicurious, jamie oliver, big oven), but these days the types of foodie apps have gotten really interesting and venture far beyond mere databases. (Actually, Jamie Oliver’s apps are far more than recipes…)

There is, for instance, “Caffeine Zone.

Caffeine Zone graph

Caffeine Zone graph

Simple idea – you tell the app when you drink a cup of coffee or tea and it tells you when you can/should drink another cup based upon calculations of how much caffeine is in your system. Idea is that you shouldn’t over-do it on caffeine and this app should help you regulate yourself. Not really an app for me, as i only drink a cup or two in the morning, but I can imagine interesting for someone who is worried about drinking too much.

And then there was The Eatery.

The Eatery - how healthy is your meal?

The Eatery - how healthy is your meal?

Leveraging the power/knowledge of “The Crowd,” here you get crowd-sourced opinion on the healthiness of what you are eating. The idea is simple – snap a photo of what you eat, upload it, rate how healthy *you* think it is and see what others out there think of what you’re eating. Ideally, this is a tool that is going to help you curb your urges to eat junk and/or tell you what is really not good for you. Obviously there are weaknesses in the app – it doesn’t have any context about you whatsoever (your physical fitness, the amount of exercise you do, what else you ate during the day – some junk is ok, just not a lot of it), but still an interesting idea for some users.

And finally, an example that is not yet an app, but at this point a simple website: “Chef Hangout.” (I’m sure they’ll come out with related apps in the near future.) This is a really interesting project. Don’t know how to cook or want to learn something new? Don’t want to take a cooking class in a retail environment with a bunch of people you don’t know? Try “Chef Hangout.” Very simply: online cooking classes. Various chefs now offer web-based video training. You sign up for a pre-determined time to learn a pre-determined thing. They seem to have a nice variety of classes – learn to make Chinese dumplings, or an Italian tomato sauce, pick up some knife skills, or even learn how to smoke food. Once you pay, they send you a list of ingredients to collect before the class. Then you go online and cook with the chef when your lesson is on. You can do it with a bunch of friends or join others who have also signed up. Pricing seems a bit high to me in some cases ($50 to learn an Italian tomato sauce?) and low in others ($20 for a 3-hour dumpling training session) and just plain weird in others ($1 to ask a chef a cooking question).

Learn to make Chinese Dumplings

Learn to make Chinese Dumplings

But I guess pricing is set by the chef who’s doing the teaching, and over time the market will determine the value. I clicked the application to be a chef button…just out of curiosity…but didn’t take it any further than that for the moment. It’s a US-based company, and times for classes offered are US-timezone based. Not really convenient for me and I am guessing the European crowd doesn’t know about this site yet. I’ll wait and see if it gets popular over here. Language is also obviously a consideration. Right now all the chefs are teaching in English, but this certainly limits things. The website uses Google+’s “Hangout” functionality (group video chat), but Google could obviously do so much more to make the site robust – pair it with Google’s translate functionality (although it’s voice recognition software is only so-so), calendar app, etc.

Happy Cooking Geekery!

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3 responses to “Cooking/Eating Geekery

  1. Cassandra Leong

    February 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Julie,

    Just wanted to say thanks for sharing our app, The Eatery (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-eatery/id468299990?mt=8)!

    The Eatery (www.eatery.massivehealth.com) gives you the big picture breakdown of your eating habits and the best places to start making a change.

    It was named on of the Top 10 apps on the App Store in 2011.

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on The Eatery, if you’d like to share, do drop us a note at feedback@massivehealth.com or visit our FAQs (https://eatery.tenderapp.com/help/kb).

    P.S. Singapore is an awesome food mecca, good for you 🙂

    Warmest regards,
    Cassandra and the Massive Health team

     
    • diginibble

      February 25, 2012 at 8:41 am

      Hi Cassandra,
      Happy to have shared. 🙂 I think the idea of the app is a fun approach to helping you think more about the healthiness of what you eat. I have a few ideas, will try to write them up and send them over to you. Cheers.

       
      • cassandraleongs

        February 27, 2012 at 3:40 am

        Hi Julie,

        That’s great, looking forward to it! Have a great weekend 🙂

        Warmest regards,
        Cassandra

         

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