The app version of Mark Bittman’s best-selling cookbook is destined to be a classic for iPad users. Mark Douglas of Culinate, the company that created the How to Cook Everything app, sheds light on the key qualities of a successful cooking app. "The beauty is that each cooking app, just like a printed cookbook, has a style that makes it successful and unique," he says. "You need to properly identify and focus on those elements that work and make it the best it can be." The app certainly excels in its quality and content. Not only are all 2,000 recipes of the original cookbook available, but the iPad app includes features such as a tutorial section, a notes tab, and voiceovers from Mark Bittman himself.
“Appetites is a brand-new kind of cookbook,” says Jennifer Domash, vice president of Clear Media (the company who developed Appetites). Unlike many cooking apps which come from already-existing magazines or cookbooks, Appetites contains original video cooking classes from popular food bloggers and celebrity chefs. The $4.99 sticker price covers 30 cooking classes, and additional classes and recipes can be purchased for $0.99, or $1.99 for a pack of six. The recipes include such standouts as Brown Butter Pumpkin Mac and Cheese, Beer Braised Short Ribs, and Cowboy Caviar.
The Mario Batali Cooks! app delivers a personal cooking experience with the celebrity chef himself. The app includes recipes selected by Mario, videos of the chef demonstrating the recipes, and his personal notes on wine pairings. Matt Bardin, co-president of the company that created the app, sheds light on the intimate user experience. "It’s [Mario Batali’s] performance that takes full advantage of the immediacy of the medium. He's just talking to you, walking you through stuff and making it feel easy," he says. "As the technology continues to evolve, there will be many more opportunities to innovate. I don't doubt that some day you will see Mario Batali — the hologram version — running up and down your kitchen counter in orange Crocs showing you how to brine sardines."
iPad users love the simplicity, gorgeous photos, and comprehensive ingredient information contained in The Photo Cookbook, according to developer Michael Ditter. Since the app’s release, features have expanded to include the ability to make notes and mark favorite recipes, as well as new language versions for a wider audience. In fact, the wide popularity of The Photo Cookbook in the Apple store "influenced [many customers’] decision to buy an iPad," recounts Ditter.
Paprika is the go-to recipe manager for many, allowing cooks to search for recipes online and then organize them into customizable categories. Says Christina Meranda, co-creator of the app, "[With Paprika] you don't have to page through a binder to find what you want. You can organize more efficiently, search more fully; it's just a convenience factor, really." The app also seamlessly syncs the content between different devices, so that you can search for recipes on your Mac, shop for ingredients on your iPhone, and cook the recipes on your iPad. Paprika responds well to the needs of the average cook. Meranda explains, "It is definitely important to be on the cutting edge of your market, but I think our top priority with the app has been to ensure that users have a stable and secure experience. If Angry Birds won't launch, you're disappointed. But if you feel you've just lost your only copy of Grandma's rhubarb pie recipe, you're devastated and maybe you feel that technology has failed you."
The acclaimed baker’s new app may be one of the more forward-thinking visual presentations on the current cooking app market. Users can choose from four different ways of seeing each recipe depending on the cook’s skill level — everything from step-by-step videos to a simple flow chart. Though the app only contains 24 recipes, the quality and variety of the selection sets the bar for future dessert apps.
At $49.99, the Professional Chef is the priciest of the cooking apps, but a steal for anyone looking for serious cooking training. Developer Matt MacInnis explains, "We've rebuilt what is considered the bible for all professional chefs into a fully interactive and easily accessible tool for the average home cook. Pro Chef on Inkling has more than 100 videos, 750 gorgeous photos, numerous interactive enhancements, and a powerful social overlay that lets cooks discuss recipes with their peers." Built in collaboration with The Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef is much more than a typical recipe app, giving home cooks the tools to be semi-professional at home.
The Martha Stewart Cookies app for the iPad has won a bundle of awards in the Apple store and has consistently garnered high reviews, and it’s not just the quality of the recipes from the cooking master herself that makes this app a must for the serious baker. The stunning photos make each and every cookie into eye candy, an effect that’s even more powerful on the larger iPad screen. Unlike the slim pickings of Dorie Greenspan’s app, Martha Stewart Cookies contains more than 90 recipes with 12 accompanying video tutorials.
The Epicurious web site is already an indispensible recipe database for the serious cook, and its iPad app brings the breadth of the resource to the kitchen counter. With more than 4 million downloads, according to Epicurious’s editor-in-chief Tanya Steel, it’s clear the brand has translated well to the new format. Epicurious for the iPad contains more than 30,000 recipes, interactive shopping lists, and weekly updates from the editors and magazine partners at Gourmet and Bon Appétit.
To create a cooking app especially designed for surviving the holidays, Food52 founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs have equipped the app with everything from recipes and video tutorials to menu planning tips to help meet the stresses of your next celebratory occasion. Jon Feldman, founder of the company that created the app, explains, "What sets the digital cookbook apart is its connectivity, which we exploited in two amazing ways: First, every recipe connects right into the FOOD52 Hotline, its Q&A community of home cooks who are there to help the reader if they get stuck. Second, every item of cookware, utensil, and even many obscure ingredients used by Amanda and Merrill in the recipes and techniques sections can be bought right from the app. It makes for an engaging, connected, and real-time experience that was never before possible from dead-tree cookbooks or cable TV shows."