Meet Appetites, an Interactive Cooking Show for the iPad

Categories: Cookbooks
It's been 10 months since the iPad launched, and companies are still figuring out how to tailor apps to the notepad computer. Many have simply enlarged existing, text-based iPhone apps or have treated the iPad as an electronic version of a glossy magazine. A new generation of iPad apps is finally taking advantage of the device's size and capacity for interactive video. This April, Momofuku's David Chang and McSweeney's are launching Lucky Peach, a quarterly print and electronic publication whose iPad content includes cooking demonstrations and documentary-style videos. Today, another video-based food app lauched. Called Appetites, the $4.99 app from Clear Media brings together six well-known food bloggers to create a sort of visual cookbook.

According to founder Nick Alt, Clear Media got started in 1999, creating video content for Flash-based sites; this is its first iPad app. San Francisco's own BrokeAss Gourmet, Gabi Moskowitz, is one of the six (others include the Bay Area's Stephanie Hua, aka Lick My Spoon, and MattBites' Matt Armendariz). Each of the bloggers submitted four recipes to Clear Media, then flew down to L.A. to film demonstrations. 

"I was completely amazed," Moskowitz says. "They had a food stylist on hand who had broken down my recipes into much smaller steps than I would have done. For example, when I wrote down, 'Chop onions,' they provided me with whole onions, peeled onions, and chopped onions."

​SFoodie doesn't have an iPad, so we weren't able to view more than the online demos. Moskowitz says that each step of each recipe is filmed, and 'readers' follow along step by step, replaying each demo as needed. A swipe of the finger brings the full list of ingredients into view, and a swipe in the other direction reveals the complete instructions. Moskowitz says the ingredients list can also be downloaded onto an iPhone to serve as a shopping list.

Alt says that the current plan is to build on the initial content and turn Appetites into a monthly publication. The participating bloggers will keep adding their recipes, and Clear Media hopes to bring on new bloggers and film demonstrations for classic recipes like apple pie. Once the inital app is purchased, new recipes can be downloaded for 99 cents apiece, or bloggers may be able to pay a lower monthly fee and unlock all the new content. (The details are still being worked out. "This is new territory for us," says Alt.)

Appetites is also smartly pitched: It gives the participating bloggers another medium for interacting with their readers, and serves as a de facto screen test for TV. From day one, Appetites has a massive potential subscriber base ― the combined readership, and marketing power, of six well-loved blogs.  

And it gives the traditional cookbook or food blog a personal appeal, demonstrating each step in a way that allows cooks to learn at their own pace. The designers may consider marketing wet wipes along with the product, because the dirty-finger-to-screen contact promises to be high. 

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.
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