John Moe gives us recommendations on food apps, in part because he used to host Marketplace Tech Report. Also, it's because his office is right next to ours. Moe, an avid cook, is now the host of Wits.
This is a $50 app -- the most expensive cooking app in the iTunes store. But this is the textbook that all students at the Culinary Institute of America use, and it's available for everybody. This is a great gift for the hardcore foodie on your list. They have chapters and chapters about how to prepare meat before you ever cook it. They have extensive videos. They have gorgeous pictures.
When you think about tuition at a cooking school (maybe $25,000 or $30,000 at the CIA) versus $50, suddenly it's a bargain. Not that this is a substitute. I mean, there's still the sound of the onions in the pan. You can't replicate that.
Big Oven has an extensive back catalog. This is a free app with 170,000 recipes. There's something of an arms race when it comes to apps and websites. You're not ever going to use all of the recipes, but it's nice to know that they're there. It has a lot you can draw from.
It has recent raves. It has comments from users of the app. And it's a popular app, so people who have tried the recipes have contributed customer reviews.
My favorite thing is the "Use up leftovers" option. I can tell it I have corn and potatoes around the house and get an endless stream of recipes that match.
It also has a "Random recipe" function.
This isn't about cooking; this is about eating. When you install, It will ask for permission to use your location. This is when you get a little bit of the privacy heebie-jeebies. But when you agree, it will show you the foods that are nearby right now.
If I'm in downtown St. Paul, Minn., it might show me a spicy tuna roll down the street, or I can search by pizzas, burgers, seafood, etc. It's not based on critical reviews; it's social networking. People are going out, ordering food and taking pictures of it. The person who uploads the photo also leaves a little review as well.
It's the app equivalent of being at a restaurant and seeing the waiter pass by with something for somebody else that looks really good.