A lot of chefs are taking a high tech approach, coming out with cooking apps for smartphones and tablets that take recipes to a whole new level. Cooking apps often offer embedded video, can calculate conversions and update automatically. We talk with three kitchen pros about where they turn to for help, and the ‘extras’ that can make apps a perfect fit for use in the kitchen and supermarket.

Guests

  • Monica Bhide Syndicated spice columnist for Scripps media; author, "Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen (Simon & Schuster)
  • Michael Ruhlman cookbook author; also celebrity judge on The Food Network
  • Dorie Greenspan James Beard award-winning cookbook author; her most recent is "Around My French Table" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Food Apps

Transcript

  • 13:23:35

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIMix two parts culinary arts with one part technology and the results can be revolutionary. The electric mixer and digital scale were just the beginning. Apps are coming to a kitchen near you and I'm not talking appetizers. The same technology you use to pay for parking with your SmartPhone or play Angry Birds on your iPad is changing the way people cook at home and how cookbook authors think about content.

  • 13:24:01

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIJoining us in studio to talk about this is Monica Bhide, cookbook author, food writer and creator of the iSPICE app. Her most recent book is "Modern Spice." Monica, always a pleasure.

  • 13:24:11

    MS. MONICA BHIDEOh, it's so nice to be here.

  • 13:24:13

    NNAMDIAnd joining us from the studios of Duke University is Michael Ruhlman, writer, cook and the creator of the "Ratio" and "Bread Baking Basic" apps. His newest book is "Ruhlman's Twenty." Michael Ruhlman, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 13:24:28

    MR. MICHAEL RUHLMANHappy to be here.

  • 13:24:29

    NNAMDIAnd joining us from the studios of NPR's Brian Park Studio in New York is Dorie Greenspan. Dorie is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and creator of the "Baking with Dorie" app which features recipes from her bestselling book, "Baking: From My Home to Yours." Dorie Greenspan, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:24:47

    MS. DORIE GREENSPANGlad to be here.

  • 13:24:48

    NNAMDIYou too can join this conversation. Call us at 800-433-8850. Have you embraced apps for use in your kitchen? If so tell us which ones are your favorites and how you use them, 800-433-8850. Or send us an email to kojo@wamu.org. Michael, I'll start with you. Apps hit the market in the summer of 2008 and you released "Ratio" in 2009. What made you decide to go that route so early on?

  • 13:25:17

    RUHLMANI was contacted by a developer in New York City who said, your book will -- is perfectly suited to what these new devices do. Do you want to build one together? And I said, sure, it sounds like fun. I'm interested in innovation and our app could do something that neither book nor video nor any other medium could do. It could change the recipes based on what you had or how much you wanted to make.

  • 13:25:42

    RUHLMANSo because it could do something that no other medium could do I was very interested in that.

  • 13:25:47

    NNAMDIAnd, Monica, what made you decide to develop an app?

  • 13:25:50

    BHIDEI think mine was -- just around the feedback that I was getting from a lot of readers where they would say, you know, we're trying to make a particular dish from a different cuisine and it lists all these spices. I have no idea what they are. I just want a quick easy reference. You know, I'm standing in the middle of, I don't know, Penzi's, (word?), you know, Giant and I'm looking at turmeric going, what is this, why do I need it, how do I use it and is this the best price? So it's just a very simple app to give people information on basic spices and how to use them.

  • 13:26:21

    NNAMDIAnd, Dorie, what made you decide?

  • 13:26:24

    GREENSPANWell, like Michael, I was approached by a developer. And I was so excited because for me, what you can do with an app -- as Michael said, it's something that -- there are things that you cannot do with a book. And what I could do with this app was actually be in someone's kitchen and teach them how to make my recipes. Take them by the hand and step by step go through the recipes. And that excited me so much. It was just another way to reach my readers.

  • 13:26:54

    NNAMDIMonica, the idea of bringing my shiny new iPad or SmartPhone into the kitchen where I could maybe spill sauce on it or drop it behind the stove is a little nerve racking. But you know that a lot of new kitchen designs include built-in protected spots tech devices.

  • 13:27:14

    BHIDEOh, yeah. You know, I was, in fact, just looking at one of those. And if my husband is listening I would like one of those kitchens, please. But, you know, it's changing. People are taking their phones in and they're looking at recipes. I mean, Dorie's app is so sexy. You look at the -- it is. I mean, you look -- she's in the kitchen with these pastries and cakes and she's walking you through it. I mean, it's sure to help you to develop an appetite. And you go and you really want to make what she's doing.

  • 13:27:42

    BHIDEAnd just for the record I wanted to say if Michel's app is the daddy of all apps and Dorie's app is the, you know, mother of all apps, mine is the little baby of all apps. It's the little app that could.

  • 13:27:53

    NNAMDIThe little app that...

  • 13:27:54

    GREENSPANThe little app that could. It's so cute. Do you know? It's funny. Today, somebody Tweeted that they had gotten duck fat all over their camera lens, but it was worth it. Do you know, it's so interesting now as we watch people going everywhere with their cameras and taking pictures of their food and bringing their iPhones and iPads and tablets into the kitchen. I think that we really want to have these tools with us. And a spatter here, a splatter there, they wipe off.

  • 13:28:31

    RUHLMANAnd they're making all kinds of devices to hang them on the wall so they're out of the way. People are working on voice activation so you can turn the page just by saying, turn the page. We have to call out Dorie's app for special attention because it really is an innovative and intelligent app that does all kinds of things. It shoes her -- it's got beautifully done video that you can watch her do it.

  • 13:28:53

    BHIDEOh, absolutely.

  • 13:28:54

    GREENSPANThank you, Michael.

  • 13:28:55

    RUHLMANIt's got different ways to organize the information within a recipe. You can look at a recipe in many different ways. Again, something that you can't do in a book, something you can't do on television. And that's what really excites me about some of these apps. They do things that no other medium can do and that's what we should be focusing on in development.

  • 13:29:13

    GREENSPANYou know, it's funny because as I was coming down to the studio, I was thinking, what -- why do we need apps? Does it make sense to be making an app, to be buying an app? And I think it makes sense when there's something extra in the app for -- whether for us who make them or for people who buy them. And we of course buy them as well. But it's -- you've got to have the -- I think the app is so exciting because it allows you to do something, as Michael said, that a book doesn't do or that a video doesn't do. You can bring video in.

  • 13:29:43

    GREENSPANIt should always be value added in some way. And I think that, you know, if you look at Monica's app, Michael's app, I hope my app, we're teaching something in a brand new way, in a way that those of us who love books and will continue to write books can't really do in our books. So it should be that extra something.

  • 13:30:03

    NNAMDIGlad you brought that up but allow me to remind the audience it's Food Wednesday. We're discussing food apps and inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. We're talking with Monica Bhide. She's a cookbook author, food writer and creator of the "I Spice" app. Monica's most recent book is "Modern Spice." Dorie Greenspan is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and creator of the "Baking with Dorie" app. It features recipes from her bestselling book, "Baking: From My Home to Yours." And Michael Ruhlman is a writer, cook and the creator of the "Ratio" and "Bread Baking Basics" apps. His newest book is "Ruhlman's Twenty."

  • 13:30:41

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. Are you sold on the idea of using apps in the kitchen? If so, why or why are you reluctant? 800-433-8850. Each of you has authored cookbooks. How did the process of developing each of your apps compare with creating a traditional cookbook? I'll start with you, Monica.

  • 13:31:02

    BHIDEIt was different. I mean, it was intensity it was the same but when I was creating the cookbook it had, you know, my own personal recipes. So there was a lot of time for me to create recipes and develop recipes and test them. But when we put the app together we wanted to pick up the best from the web that was already there. So I worked with Relish Magazine, with Leite's Culinaria, with a couple of other places and had, you know, brought in their recipes and integrated it into the app.

  • 13:31:31

    BHIDEAnd I think another thing that was different from the cookbook was the cookbook was my idea of what, you know, modern Indian should be and I put it together. And the app actually asked a lot of people, you know, in putting together the spice app and herb app, what is it that you want to see in this? What would be useful? 'Cause it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, it's really basic. What would you like? And their input really helped.

  • 13:31:53

    NNAMDIMichael Ruhlman, how was this different for you from creating a traditional cookbook?

  • 13:31:57

    RUHLMANWell, we -- I started with a cookbook with "Radio." And it was a developer, someone who knew what digital apps could do. And he was -- here's an important part of the equation that we really need to talk about -- he was willing to do the work on spec for free, as was I, as was the designer. And we are splitting the proceeds. But the fact is, these things can be very expensive to produce. And how are we to convince people to pay the money that they really require in order to develop them well?

  • 13:32:29

    RUHLMANWe expect free information. We expect 99 cent apps and yet these cost a lot more to develop than that.

  • 13:32:38

    NNAMDIDorie, what was the challenge for you?

  • 13:32:41

    GREENSPANWell, my app has -- well, it has four different ways of looking at each recipe. It's funny, I think of the app -- my app in particular as not being recipes. And at some point I hope we can talk about recipe apps and recipe sources. But it's really lessons, baking lessons. And each lesson and each recipe is presented in four ways. So one is traditional, a cookbook view. The other is a step by step -- they all attach to video. There's step by step video for everything.

  • 13:33:18

    GREENSPANBut in one you can see the video and have the instructions right under it. In another you can scroll and just go to that step that you want to watch and that you might need a little more instruction in. And then there's a kind of -- we're calling it geeks in the kitchen. It's called Culinview and it's a flowchart of the entire recipe. And so for me -- you know, very literal me used to writing cookbooks, it was fascinating for me to take my recipes and twist them and turn them and think about them and find the right way to present them in each of these four different formats.

  • 13:33:59

    GREENSPANSo it really was a challenge and it got me to think about the way people learn, the way they take in information, what people need. And the hope was that everybody, you know, can find their own learning, teaching, baking style within the app. But it was a huge challenge. It really stretched me.

  • 13:34:17

    NNAMDIWell, I could be wrong, Dorie, but I don't imagine you or Monica or Michael spends your spare time writing code. So how did the tech piece of your apps get put into place? First you, Dorie.

  • 13:34:34

    GREENSPANWell, Culin App is the company that developed my app. And they had coding -- brilliant coding elves. And I didn't have to worry my pretty little head about it. So, Dorie, were you paid an advance of some sort or how did the finances work there? I'm really curious about -- 'cause these are -- this is a beautiful app. High tech video, gorgeous design, beautifully and elegant way it works. This must have cost a lot of money to produce. Actually...

  • 13:35:07

    RUHLMANCould you address -- yeah, could you address that and how that works and how they were thinking about it?

  • 13:35:09

    GREENSPAN...actually, I can't. I can't address it because of my contract.

  • 13:35:15

    RUHLMANOh, really.

  • 13:35:15

    GREENSPANI'm sorry. Yeah, really. I'm sorry.

  • 13:35:17

    RUHLMANThat's okay. Well, because this is the biggest hurdle is that these are expensive to make. And so Dorie's app is on the pricier side in a world where we're very sort of stingy with our internet dollars.

  • 13:35:29

    GREENSPANYes. I mean, what I can say? And, I mean, you can see it when you look at the app, there's three hours of high definition video in it and all the brilliant coding elves. And it is a very expensive app. As it turns out, this is breaking news 'cause I just got this this morning, Culin App is going to run a holiday baking sale on the app. And so the price will be -- the price is now $12.99.

  • 13:35:58

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 13:35:59

    GREENSPANAnd it's going to be $7.99 starting -- I think it starts November 7.

  • 13:36:05

    NNAMDIA lot of apps are either free or cost around $2.

  • 13:36:10

    GREENSPANExactly.

  • 13:36:10

    NNAMDIBut as more content rich cooking apps and eBooks come on the market, should we be ready to pay more than we're used to, Monica?

  • 13:36:18

    BHIDEYou know, I think -- it's a really good question and it is hard to get people to pay for apps, I think, which is one of the reasons we were talking about development. I actually went with a company in -- on the west coast called Sutro Media and they already have an infrastructure developed and I had to work on it to, you know, put in the content and things like that. And "I Spice" is now selling for $1.99. And I think -- I mean, that's less than a good cup of coffee, you know, to get really reliable good information...

  • 13:36:47

    NNAMDIInstead of a bad cup of coffee.

  • 13:36:48

    BHIDEOr a bad cup of...

  • 13:36:49

    GREENSPANThat's a great way of looking at it, Monica.

  • 13:36:51

    BHIDEWell, it's from a source who knows what they're talking about. You know, a lot of the stuff on the internet, unless you're looking at reliable sources, particularly when it comes to food, you have no idea what you're getting.

  • 13:37:00

    NNAMDIYeah, you used to be an engineer. How did the tech part of your app get put into place?

  • 13:37:04

    BHIDEThat was a long time ago.

  • 13:37:08

    NNAMDIThat long, huh?

  • 13:37:09

    BHIDEIt was a long time ago. But I knew the questions to ask, you know. And I went in with, oh my god, we should have this artificial intelligence system that learns and tells people. And, you know, by the time I got done with my requirements they turned around said, you know, about $150,000. And I thought, well, let's go back to the basics then.

  • 13:37:27

    NNAMDIGo back to the basics. The basics is what we're interested in going back to here. You can call us at 800 -- if you have a favorite app that helps you decide where to eat when you don't want to cook, let us know which app that is. Call us at 800-433-8850 or send email to kojo@wamu.org. You can send us a Tweet at kojoshow or simply go to our website kojoshow.org. Ask a question or make a comment there. Here is Bobby in Bethesda, Md. Hi, Bobby.

  • 13:37:58

    BOBBYHi, Kojo. I'm a game designer, usability designer that just talked my way into a job for a corporate real estate company making an app. And your guests were talking about how the app is a completely new medium that can do things better than previous forms of media, such as books and videos. And I think that something that isn't focused enough on in society in general is how apps are completely new useful tools. And usability and game design is very effective, as you can see by the cookbook apps that's being applied across the board in a field that is exploding right now on the internet -- or on -- in school and -- yeah.

  • 13:38:48

    NNAMDIMichael Ruhlman, care to talk about that?

  • 13:38:50

    RUHLMANYeah, we're just figuring out what these are capable of. For instance, there should -- there could be an app -- I mean, these devices know where you are. And so it could recommend -- it could see that the weather is very chilly where you are and so it could recommend a braise and bring up braise recipes that are perfectly suited for this time of year and happen to be in -- you're in the northeast, say -- it knows that you're in the northeast. So it knows where you are and so can suggest things.

  • 13:39:16

    RUHLMANSo that's the kind of thing that we're -- that I hope that we explore and develop is making use of this extraordinary technology to help us cook and cook better.

  • 13:39:26

    GREENSPANMichael, I love that idea. Are you working on it?

  • 13:39:28

    BHIDEI was just going to say, is that a preview of what's coming up?

  • 13:39:31

    GREENSPANThat's very cool. That could be so cool.

  • 13:39:34

    NNAMDIGet a patent on it, Michael.

  • 13:39:35

    RUHLMANIt's coming.

  • 13:39:37

    GREENSPANBut, you know, it's interesting because, you know, Michael, you're saying, you know, there's -- apps can find us. They know where we are. They can help us choose local ingredients and choose -- this is really what I think can be so exciting about an app. We have great resources for recipes, just straight recipes. We have them in great cookbooks, we have them online from magazines, we have epicureans, we have -- I mean, recipes are so...

  • 13:40:04

    RUHLMANWe are awash in recipes.

  • 13:40:06

    GREENSPANYeah, I mean, they're so easy to find. And I think what's exciting about an app like yours and like Monica's is that they add information to what we can -- what we already have or what we can so easily find. That it's that extra level of instruction, of knowledge, of something that can just, you know, take us a little bit farther or a little deeper.

  • 13:40:29

    BHIDERight.

  • 13:40:30

    GREENSPANAnd I think that's what can be so exciting about apps now.

  • 13:40:32

    BHIDEI think it's the difference...

  • 13:40:33

    RUHLMANI agree. There's two...

  • 13:40:34

    BHIDEI'm sorry. I was going to say I think it's the difference that makes the difference. I mean, you know, there's a ton of information out there on baking. There are so many books out there on baking, but if you take this app, you get Dorie backing with you each step of the way holding your hand. That's the difference.

  • 13:40:50

    NNAMDIMichael?

  • 13:40:52

    RUHLMANThere are just so -- most of the apps out there don't really do anything new, I think. They're big recipe databases, and that's not what we need now. We are...

  • 13:41:00

    GREENSPANI agree.

  • 13:41:01

    RUHLMAN...we are floating in a sea of recipes.

  • 13:41:03

    BHIDEMm-hmm.

  • 13:41:03

    RUHLMANRecipes are free and everywhere. What we need...

  • 13:41:05

    BHIDEMm-hmm.

  • 13:41:06

    RUHLMAN...is information and technique from experts like Dorie. And I think that's why -- I love that she's doing apps, and I'm skeptical of apps that just sort of are, you know, a big database of recipes. We don't need that. We need information and technique.

  • 13:41:22

    NNAMDIWhen we come back, we'll discuss which are the favorite apps of our panelists, but you too can call us with yours, 800-433-8850. If you have a favorite app that helps you decide either where to eat or what to eat, 800-433-8850. You can also go to our website kojoshow.org, and tell us there or send email to kojo@wamu.org, or tweet @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:43:43

    NNAMDIWelcome back. It's our Food Wednesday conversation on food apps with Michael Ruhlman. He's a writer, cook, and the creator of the Ratio and Bread Baking Basic apps. Michael's newest book is "Ruhlman's Twenty." Dorie Greenspan is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author, and creator of the Baking with Dorie app. It features recipes from her best-selling book, "Baking From My Home to Yours."

  • 13:44:03

    NNAMDIAnd our own Monica Bhide is a cookbook author, food writer, and creator of the iSPICE app. We refer to her as our own because we turn to Monica for all things spice. Her most recent book is called "Modern Spice." We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. We got an email from John who says, "Easy way to protect your iPad in the kitchen? Wrap it in cellophane. It still works." We go to BV in Columbia, Md. BV, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:44:34

    BVHey. First of all, thanks for putting me on the air on this show. I have a background in statistics and engineering, but I love to cook, so I need to follow Monica's footsteps here sometimes. But yeah. So the comment that I wanted to make was taking -- I used to take my laptop, keeping it on my dining table and, you know, go back and forth and cook before I bought my iPad. So my comment is, after these apps have come out, and after a lot of the videos, or even photos of how the food looks in different steps, it's made me a more organized cook, if you may.

  • 13:45:15

    BVI used to, I mean, cut vegetables in thin slices, you know, you don't what thin is, you don't know what the paper is referring to, whereas in photos or in videos you actually get to learn how professionals cook or cut the vegetables for the prep and how my kitchen is a whole lot cleaner. My number of vegetables that I use have reduced. I'm more organized with my cooking after I started using apps rather than when I just looking at recipes using a piece of paper. That was my comment.

  • 13:45:44

    NNAMDIYes. I appreciate the fact that you're more organized and cleaner, but how has it affected the taste of your cuisine?

  • 13:45:54

    BVWell, it definitely tastes from the experts, it doesn't turn out to be good all the time, but, you know, you keep improving every time you go back and cook the same thing over, you keep improving. But overall, it's been a very successful thing for somebody who likes to cook.

  • 13:46:11

    NNAMDIBV thank you very much for your call. I will start with you, Dorie. In addition to your own, and of course, each others, which apps do you use, both for cooking at home and for eating out?

  • 13:46:22

    GREENSPANOkay. I'll tell you in a second, but may I just respond to BV?

  • 13:46:25

    NNAMDISure.

  • 13:46:27

    GREENSPANAs an app-er, I mean, I don't know what we should call ourselves.

  • 13:46:30

    BHIDEI like that. I'm an app-er now.

  • 13:46:31

    GREENSPANWe're app-ers.

  • 13:46:33

    NNAMDIA happy app-er.

  • 13:46:33

    GREENSPANYou've been app-er -- yeah. The two of you were app-ers before I was. But as an app-er, that -- you couldn't hope for a better response than the one that BV gave, that he's been cooking, that, you know, that he -- that the app made him more aware of what he was doing, it answered questions for him, it gave him for confidence and a cleaner kitchen. I'm still working on that one. But I think that's really exciting. I think that's what we as authors and as app-ers really hope we can do for home cooks.

  • 13:47:09

    NNAMDIAnd what are your favorite apps, Dorie?

  • 13:47:12

    GREENSPANOkay. So true before, I mean, I have to say, I've had Monica's and Michael Ratio from the time they came out. That's true. It's not just for the show. I use -- I'm looking at what I have on my iPad and my iPhone. I use Open Table and Menu Pages and Urban Spoon. I keep Epicurious on my iPhone. And a friend of mine gave...

  • 13:47:42

    RUHLMANHow do you use -- Dorie, how do you use Epicurious? That's a well-known and nicely designed one. How do you use it?

  • 13:47:49

    GREENSPANDo you know every once in a while, I'll just -- if, you know, if I have a little time and I'm -- before I'm going shopping, I might just flip through it to look for some recipes. I just kind, you know, I flip through it the way I would flip through a magazine in my spare time.

  • 13:48:06

    RUHLMANMm-hmm.

  • 13:48:07

    GREENSPANJust to look at recipes. I also -- David Lebovitz, who's a very popular blogger, an American living in Paris, and I'm a Parisian part-timer, so I follow a lot of what goes on there, just released an app two days ago called Paris Pastry, and it's 310 I think addresses of pastry shops in Paris with a little commentary about his favorites and photographs. And so...

  • 13:48:35

    BHIDEOh, what fun.

  • 13:48:37

    GREENSPANYeah. Great, great fun.

  • 13:48:38

    NNAMDIThat's only days 55 days in the year.

  • 13:48:40

    GREENSPANGreat fun. And Patricia Wells is working on making the -- I think this, again, a perfect use of an app. She wrote the "Food Lover's Guide to Paris," just an iconic book for those of us who love Paris. It went out of print, and now she's, instead of revising the book, she is making an app for it, and I think the technology is perfect for guide books.

  • 13:49:07

    NNAMDIWhat apps are you using, Michael?

  • 13:49:10

    RUHLMANThe app that most excited me recently was one called Cookulus, and it was created by David Schloss, and again, it does something that nothing else can do. He opens with a chocolate chip cookie recipe, and you can choose with a modulator, do you want it crispy or soft, chewy or crumbly, thin or thick, and it changes the recipe quantities and the baking times to give you exactly the kind of cookie you want. So if you want a crispy chewy thin cookie, you can dial it on a little scale and it changes the recipe for you. So I think that's one of the coolest and most innovative apps to come out recently.

  • 13:49:48

    GREENSPANActually, I have that also, and it reminded me, Michael, of Ratio.

  • 13:49:54

    RUHLMANWell, thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah. They're doing similar things.

  • 13:49:57

    BHIDESo similar things, yeah.

  • 13:49:57

    NNAMDIThey complement each other. What are your favorite apps, Monica?

  • 13:50:00

    BHIDEI think my apps reflect my life as I'm looking at the list. So it starts with Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, which I love...

  • 13:50:09

    NNAMDISure.

  • 13:50:09

    BHIDE...which is a basic app with, you know, it's got great information, great recipes, you can do grocery lists from your recipes. It's got illustrations and everything, so whenever I'm looking for an ingredient that I don't know much about I'll go look in there and see how to make it. The second one I have here is a kitchen math app which as a recipe developer I'm always, you know, ounces to kilograms, kilograms to teaspoons.

  • 13:50:29

    NNAMDIOh, yeah.

  • 13:50:30

    BHIDEI'm always doing that kind of stuff.

  • 13:50:30

    GREENSPANOh, I don't know that one.

  • 13:50:32

    BHIDEIt's 99 cents.

  • 13:50:32

    RUHLMANWhat is that one?

  • 13:50:33

    BHIDEIt's Kitchen Math. The third one is something I know nothing about, which I'm looking to learn about and it's called Fromage, it's about cheese. So it's the same concept that I have for spices except it's for cheese. So, you know, the name of the cheese, where it comes from, how to pair it with wine, you know, you can take notes in that. It's very similar to iSPICE except it's for cheese. And the next two I guess are lifestyle reflective, Bars and Cocktails, 8500 cocktail recipes for free. You can't go wrong with that.

  • 13:51:04

    NNAMDINo.

  • 13:51:05

    BHIDEAnd then the Washington Post Going Out Guide. I love that thing. You know, always going in there looking for restaurants, addresses, reviews, it's really useful.

  • 13:51:13

    NNAMDIWell, you just answered Bob's question. Bob said, "I just bought iSPICE, what are the other apps your guests have called again?" Bob, you not only know the apps they have, but the apps they're recommending. For the apps they have, Bob, Michael Ruhlman's app is called Ratio and Bread Baking Basics. Dorie Greenspan's is called the Baking with Dorie App, and Monica Bhide's is called the -- well, you bought that already. No need to tell you. Here now is Lou in MacLean, Va. It's the iSPICE app for Monica. Here is Lou in MacLean, Va. Lou, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:51:50

    LOUHey, thank you, Kojo. Great, great show. So I wanted to call because I actually -- I work as a usability design professional, and an information architect at Navigation Art, and I wanted to pick back up on what the previous UX designer I think was attempting to say. And, you know, particularly with the guests that you have here who are all dealing in food which is naturally fun subject, there really are a couple of things that I think folks could keep in mind as they contemplate the development of these mobile apps, because they are expensive, and it is competitive.

  • 13:52:28

    LOUBut, you know, it's really kind of simple. On the one hand, there is a design practice called user center design which really focuses on analyzing and understanding your audience, and finding out what's most valuable to them. That really is the key, and it starts there with sort of being empathetic and listening to your audience. And then on the other hand, what you want to do is, particularly in a fun space such as food and dining, is really try and use the imagination, you know.

  • 13:52:57

    LOUOftentimes in development, there can be a tendency towards best practice, which is great, right? But it sort of (unintelligible) point. Here there's a real opportunity to push the boundaries and just let your vision flow, because, you know, as has been said, you know, the space is developing. Now, people have an intuitive capacity to learn on the run and they do it pretty quickly. So to the extent that your panelists have these great sort of creative ideas, push them out there, just make sure that they check them and balance them with the user need.

  • 13:53:37

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, Lou. Here is Monica Bhide.

  • 13:53:40

    BHIDESomething to add to that, I think what you said is really key. You know, when I was putting together the iSPICE app, like I said, I had all these ideas about things that I wanted in there, and when I started asking users, one of the very basic things in there was, should I have substitutes listed for spices. Not one user came back and said yes. In fact, everybody came back and said there's so much right about, you know, spices providing nutrition, why don't you have nutritional information on the spices, and quite honestly that hadn't occurred to me.

  • 13:54:10

    BHIDEI was just thinking how do you use it in the kitchen, how do you substitute for it, where do you buy it? So now, the second edition of the app that came out, for a lot of the spices we're starting to add information on nutrition. So I think really listening to what the users want from that is helpful.

  • 13:54:26

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, Lou. All of our panelists were in other professions before they turned to cooking, and Dorie, it's my understanding that you burned your parents' kitchen down when you were 13 years old.

  • 13:54:38

    GREENSPANYes. Yes. Sad -- sad but true, yes.

  • 13:54:44

    NNAMDIAnd you came to baking as a profession after pursuing another career. Do you wish you'd had a resource like the app you just created when you were starting out?

  • 13:54:53

    GREENSPANOh, would I have loved that. I knew nothing. After I burned my parents' kitchen down, I guess you won't be surprised to learn that I didn't cook again -- I didn't cook again until I got married, and I was married at 19. So -- and I knew nothing. Nothing. So yes -- and there was no Food Network, there was -- I learned from cookbooks and from enthusiasm, and I would have loved from -- to be able to have learned from watching someone.

  • 13:55:25

    NNAMDIMichael, bread baking is something that intimidates a lot of home cooks, all that kneading and resting and horror of horrors, yeast. Do you think an app should make something difficult a bit easier?

  • 13:55:38

    RUHLMANOh, absolutely. That's one of the reasons I did it. People are afraid of bread. It's this mysterious creature and it shouldn't be. When they understand a basic bread dough is five parts flour and three parts water, and the amount of yeast is not really that important. The yeast will grow in the bread. If you just know the basic steps of mixing and resting and proofing and baking, it's very, very easy, and I hope that a bread app can encourage somebody who didn't otherwise bake to bake. We put in step-by-step photographs, the recipes change according to how much you have or what you want to do. So absolutely. That's one of the main goals is to encourage people to cook.

  • 13:56:20

    NNAMDIMonica, your iSPICE app is pretty straightforward. Why did you decide that simple was the way to go?

  • 13:56:26

    BHIDEYou know, I think I wanted something to be really useful for people from what I, like I said, what feedback I was getting. So people were emailing me saying, you know, I'm in the grocery store. I just want one place to go. I just want to know what this is, you know, what does it do for me, how can I use it? Just very simple information in one place. I had thought about initially putting a ton of bells and whistles like, oh, you know, I'm making chicken tonight, what spices do you need with chicken, but that really wasn't the intent of this app. The intent of this app was more informational as a reference, and I think that's the purpose that it serves now.

  • 13:57:00

    NNAMDIWe're running out of time, but I think we have enough time for Laurie in Fairfax, Va. Laurie, you're turn.

  • 13:57:05

    LAURIEHi. This morning I was looking through the paper in the food section, and I'm thinking about buying some turkeys and I'm looking and trying to figure out well, now, which is the best deal, which is the best deal. Here's an idea for app, talk about user need, is an app you can put on your iPhone and you could push the button, chicken, and I would know that the Giant has the best sale on chicken.

  • 13:57:26

    BHIDEThere you go.

  • 13:57:27

    LAURIEAll chickens tonight. Or let's say I want frozen turkey, and push the button and there we know to get to Shoppers Food Warehouse or wherever. But something that could be tied to your zip code or your area and it would be an app that would give you what's on sale when. That's my idea.

  • 13:57:45

    NNAMDIAnd everybody agrees that that's a wonderful idea, Laurie. We'll just have to see who develops it because that's all the time we have right now. Michael Ruhlman, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 13:57:55

    RUHLMANA pleasure to be here.

  • 13:57:56

    NNAMDIMichael is a writer, cook, and the creator of the Ratio and Bread Baking Basic apps. His newest book is "Ruhlman's Twenty." Dorie Greenspan, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:58:05

    GREENSPANThank you, and I loved having a chance to visit with you and Monica and Michael. Thank you.

  • 13:58:09

    NNAMDIDorie is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and creator of the Baking with Dorie App. It features recipes from her best-selling book, "Baking From My Home to Yours." Monica Bhide, always a pleasure.

  • 13:58:19

    BHIDEThank you so much.

  • 13:58:20

    NNAMDIMonica is a cookbook author, food writer, and creator of the iSPICE app. Her most recent book is "Modern Spice." And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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