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Summary:

In a digital world, the recipe has transformed from a static set of instructions into a kind of open-source code which any cook and adjust or reformulate. Food Network’s Alton Brown proposes to embrace that trend to create a form of living recipe.

Alton Brown social media recipe
photo: Serious Eats

Many of you may already be familiar with Alton Brown, the host of Good Eats and other Food Network TV programs. I love him because, like us, he’s a geek at heart, never missing a chance to explain the chemistry and history of cooking along with its technique. It turns out, though, that Brown is a geek in the tech sense as well.

In an interview with food blog Serious Eats, Brown gave his thoughts on how social media is changing the way the world approaches the rarefied art of recipe writing. Recipes used to immalleable creations, published in cookbooks and magazines or printed on index cards. But with the rise of the internet and social media, recipes are often adjusted, reformulated and repurposed within minutes of being published.

The recipe, Brown said, has become like open-source code. The programmers in this case are cooks and they’re constantly tweaking and improving the code and tossing it back to developer community. If you want an example just look to Food52, a crowdsourced cooking portal where any given recipe is posted by individuals, but then tinkered with by Food52’s community of cooks.

Brown said that trend shouldn’t just be accepted but embraced to create a new kind of digital recipe. “What if each recipe per se had three paths to completion, and you got to choose your path based on what kind of person you are and how you interact with things?” Brown asked. Apparently Brown has a project that will do just that in the works. I for one am very curious to see what he comes up with.

  1. A recipe as a Wikipedia entry, especially one where you could see the history of changes and thus all the prior permutations of the recipe, would be VERY cool.

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  2. You shd check out CucumberTown.

    We wrote a bit about this thought process here –

    http://statspotting.com/2012/11/startup-ideas-a-simple-but-powerful-heuristic/

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  3. I’d like Alton Brown a lot better if he actually could cook. It’s apparent he cannot.

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  4. Food.com is actually a better example of a crowd-based recipe site. All 450,000+ recipes are submitted by actual home cooks and can be modified by the community.

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