BakeSpace.com launched in 2006, providing a grassroots community of amateur cooks with a web platform for trading recipes and tips, with a minimal amount of intrusive advertising. Now, their Cookbook Café app for the iPad (which won the 2014 Webby Award for Best Social App), goes one better, offering a no-cost publishing platform that lets users create and sell their own cookbooks from within the app. The current inventory includes more than 160 collections, containing anywhere from three to 70 recipes per book, and ranging in price from free to $15.
The search interface is nicely designed. Users can keyword search across all the cookbooks, search by author, or browse by category using amusing, spinning menus in the shape of a cherry pie and a cup of coffee. The app also comes equipped with five separate oven timers that can run simultaneously, for those days when four timers just aren’t enough.
Many of the cookbooks are the work of nonprofit organizations. Angel Acres, for example, created five books as a way to spread the word about Horse Haven Rescue, their Pennsylvania animal shelter. Other selections are more self-aggrandizing, such as the collection of five recipes melodiously entitled, “Cupcakes from Food Network’s Cupcake Wars winner, Annette Starbuck.” And then there are the hidden gems, most notably “Chef,” which at first glance appears to be an offering of suspect street food recipes, but in reality is a clever bit of guerilla marketing for the recent indie film of the same name.
Jon Favreau, the director, writer and star of Chef—which chronicles the adventures of a high-end restaurateur who finds happiness behind the wheel of a run-down food truck—knew he needed a primo culinary consultant. So he chose one of the country’s premiere food-truck chefs, Roy Choi, the kingpin of Kogi BBQ Taco Trucks in Los Angeles. In this free cookbook, six of the dishes Choi created for the film are presented. Never mind that the recipes are incorrectly indexed as holiday desserts, and that the integrated video clips don’t seem to function. Instead, practice making the mojo pork cubanos, the tostones with chile vinegar, and the yucca fries with banana ketchup. You will then be ready for the ultimate eat-along experience when the film becomes available on iTunes.