Startup #72 – Cooking 2.0

cooking.jpgCookbooks, websites, T.V. shows.  There’s lots of help out there for any aspiring chefs.  But where’s the innovation?  It’s all the same – throw together some ingredients, cook it for a certain amount of time, and you’re done.  It’s amazing to me that an industry this big and profitable is so incredibly void of innovation.

Today’s idea is a completely different take on the concept of the “virtual cookbook”.  I’ve thought of several different problems that I personally encounter, and a few ways to solve them.

Problem:  Finding the right set of recipes is too time consuming. 

Solution:  Woot-cipes!  Each day the site would have one featured set of 4-5 recipes that work together to create a complete meal.

Problem:  Cookbooks are full of recipes that have ingredients people are allergic to or just don’t like

Solution:  Users would create a profile indicating where they live, the types of foods they don’t want to eat and other basic preferences (vegetarian, fast vs gourmet, heathy vs greasy).  The daily recipe would be customized to the specific users.  Also, based on the location and time of year, the recipes would offer fresh vegetables and regionally-specific foods.

Problem:  Many recipes call for ingredients that you don’t currently have.

Solution:  A full shopping list that pulls ingredients for all 4-5 recipes that can easily be printed and brought to a store.  The ingredients would be separated into catagories such as “Probably have on hand”, “Probably need to buy fresh”.  For example, “flour” would be in the “on hand” catagory, while “artichokes” would be in the “buy fresh” catagory.  This could also be tied into a grocery delivery service to automatically get the ingredients delivered to your door.

Problem:  It’s difficult to time the preparation of several dishes so they are all ready at the same time

Solution:  Provide a breakdown of the meal preparation not by individual recipe steps, but by time.  Here’s how it would work:

45 minutes before meal – Chop onions, carrots, and peppers for stir fry.  Pre-heat oven to 350 for cornbread. 

30 mins before meal – Brown beef for stir fry.  Mix cornbread ingredients.  Start water boiling for green beans.

And so on and so on…

What do you guys think?  Am I way off base here and there are lots of innovative cooking sites out there I just don’t know about?  Let me know in the comments below!

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5 responses to “Startup #72 – Cooking 2.0

  1. Interesting idea. Indeed there is a market there, but part of the issue is that (for the most part) the computer and the kitchen don’t reside in the same space.

    That said, the “A meal a day” idea is a good one and would be pretty easy to implement. A red meat, white meat, fish, and vegetarian selection each day would work.

    However, revenue (ads? yawn) and building a community that remains fired up (a la Woot) could be difficult.

    How about a Digg for recipes? Categories (Red, White, Fish, Veggie, sides, salads, soups, desserts) with vote up/down and comments? Still might be tough to make a buck on, but people might use it.

  2. Great thoughts, thanks. Yeah, the monetization on this one is pretty tough. One angle might be to provide a basic service of “one meal a day”, and then have an add-on premium subscription service that would allow you to customize based on specific preferences/locations/etc…

    I do like the “Digg for recipes” idea. I think Digg-like interfaces work well for topics where people have strong opinions (i.e. tech, politics). Food is definitely another area where people enjoy expressing their opinions.

  3. Colin – Great post about “Death of a Startup”, btw… http://techstbooks.wordpress.com/2007/07/11/death-of-a-startup/

  4. How about this one: enter all the stuff you have in the kitchen, and choose from recipes that are generated based on it. Time consuming, but after the first time you update your profile you just have to keep adding the new stuff you get.

  5. i love the “Digg for recipes” idea!
    i have my own Gourmet Meals To Go In Kingston Ontario site so check it out maybe youll get some more ideas!

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