Caen Contee learned how to cook from his mother.
As a young boy, just seven years old, he watched her prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day from their home kitchen in Brazil for a squad of family members.
“That really was the beginning seed for me of not only starting a passion for food, but also an investigation,” Contee said at a Catalyst conference last year.
Today, Contee is the co-founder and CEO of Culination, a new kind of cooking website that combines recipes with step-by-step instructional videos, taught by experts in the food and beverage industries.
“The problem with traditional cookbooks is that they usually only show pictures of the end-product,” Contee explained to Business Insider over a video chat.
A glamour shot of Coq au Vin, for example, doesn’t offer many visual clues about how to sauté mushrooms until their perfectly browned or braise chicken so it’s just the right tenderness.
Culination, now in private alpha, is a full-service cookbook — one that will not only tell you what to cook and how to cook it, but also how to customise recipes to fit your diet needs.
That could mean filtering recipes based on personal information about specific allergies or recommending ingredient substitutions. Eventually, the site will be voice-activated so you don’t have to touch a screen while your hands are say, covered in messy egg yolk.
The goal is to expand the culinary skill set of home cooks, while bridging the gap between food and health — an idea that was shaped by Caen’s own experiences.
Caen was heavy as a teenager. He weighed 265 pounds in high school, but made it is his goal to slim down before college. The entrepreneur lost about 95 pounds through traditional Chinese nutrition. Meanwhile, he developed his cooking talent by working in restaurants and teaching cooking classes.
Culination represents the culmination of Caen’s personal triumphs and desire to infiltrate our fast-food culture.
The website launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo this week. It will be available to the public later this year.
The team recruited health expert Cyrus Khambatta, who has a Ph.d in molecular and biochemical nutrition from UC Berkeley, to author nutrition lesson that are easy for a general audience to digest. He will be holding a Q&A session on the Indiegogo page today from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m EST.
“We want to provide a level of understandable scientific credible information,” said Caen.
Early users will have access to roughly 100 lessons that are housed in Culination’s “Pantry,” the company’s fancy term for a recipe index.
From there, the content will largely be user-directed. Culination will customise or create content for users based on how much money they are willing to contribute. Site-wide interest of specific topics or cuisines will drive what videos get produced. A strong interest in Mediterranean food for example, will result in more videos that demonstrate how to cook Mediterranean dishes.
“Entire sections of videos will be devoted to things like weight gain and weight loss, Khambatta told me over the phone. “We’re not necessarily trying to eliminate one type of food, or market a diet to vegetarians or vegans. The recipes will include meat, gluten and lactose, but we want to provide people with the education about what those ingredients do in their bodies,” he said.
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