Cooking Communities – the first Crowd Cookbooks
Cooking blogs and recipe communities are by no means a rarity nowadays. On the contrary, if you are looking for something particular such as a recipe for a cake you ate at a friend’s birthday party and simply couldn’t forget, or for a new version of a casserole that you enjoy, but which is lacking pizazz, you will get countless hits when searching on the web.
There are plenty of websites and you will find hundreds of versions of the same basic recipe on each of them. But how can you find the right recipe? Comments and criticism from the community members can help give a first impression, but there probably won’t be an amateur chef out there to try out and compare all the recipes. In spite of this, cookbook authors Amanda Hesser and Merill Stubbs have shown us how entire crowdsourced cookbooks are produced.
The “Food52” Cookbook
Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, two successful cooking journalists both of whom have worked for distinguished newspapers and magazines including the New York Times and the Herb Quarterly have already realized several projects together. In 2009, they opted for a “food community” to launch their next interesting new project: the first crowdsourced cookbook in 52 weeks. What distinguishes the food52.com cooking community from others is both simple and brilliant: the best recipes will be compiled and published in a print issue. Community members were able to take part in a weekly contest for a period of one year (52 weeks) and cast their vote about the recipes submitted. Each winner recipe went into the cookbook.
According to the food52 community website, “we wanted to give people from all over the world a way to exchange their ideas and to celebrate each other’s talents”. The crowdsourced cookbook was published exactly two years after food52.com was launched.
Tweet Pie: “the twecipe book”
A slightly different but nevertheless interesting cookbook community project is the Twitter cookbook: Tweet Pie. The gourmet crowd was animated to twitter their best recipes under the hash mark: #tweetpie. Transferring entire cooking instructions into a Tweet with just 140 characters seems an impossible feat. However the crowd-sourced campaign was able to compile over 200 recipes – each between 50 and 140 characters. However, for some of the “twecipes” you’ll need a bit of Twitter experience to crack the short and crisp cooking instructions.
This is an example of a “twecipe” for Apple Crumble:
@theboywhobakes – 650gApples/2tspLemn/1tspCinmon/150gSugar Add 2 dish 130gFlour/65gSugar/65gButter/25gOats rub 2gether, add on top aples bke@200C 45mins
Both cookbooks have been published and are now available in bookshops. Last but not least, there is no guarantee for “the best recipe” because there is no accounting for “good” taste.