When Nick Fauchald moved to New York in 2003, he worked full time at Wine Spectator magazine and part time at a law firm while attending the French Culinary Institute at night.”Working seven days and nights a week was actually less insane than it sounds,” Fauchald tells us. “It taught me how to juggle a bunch of projects at once without dropping any balls.”
Through more hard work and some luck, he has made a name for himself in the foodie scene. He helped launch the popular online site Tasting Table in 2008, and within two years he shared his favourite cooking gadgets with Martha Stewart on TV.
But after working as editor in chief of Tasting Table for three years and growing it into nine different editions, Fauchald missed the print world. He decided it was time for a change.
“I wanted to try to find ways to connect print publishing and digital,” he says. “I wanted to help people go back and forth between the two. I think there’s room for both to work together and to really improve one another.”
Last year he founded All Day Press, a publishing company bridging digital and print media — with clients including The New York Times, TENNIS magazine, and Gilt Groupe — and he started working on some food-related apps, including Sarah Jenkins’s New Italian Pantry. The app is the first in a series where well-known chefs will make their style of cooking more accessible to fans.
We recently caught up with Fauchald to learn about his new gig and talk about the future of cooking. Here are the best parts from our conversation:
Let’s start with your latest project — what is the New Italian Pantry?
Sarah Jenkins (the chef at Porchetta sandwich shop, Porsena trattoria, and Porsena Extra Bar) approached us at Lazy Susan Media last year and said she wanted to do something digital with all of her cookbook recipes to get them in front of people. Just from talking to her, we realised she was very passionate not only about ingredients, but very specific ingredients. So we came up with the idea for an app that let’s you select what you have on-hand via a pantry Sarah has pre-selected. It shows you what you need to buy and the recipes you can make with what you have.
Photo: New Italian Pantry
What does the future of cooking look like? Will ditigal completely change everything?
That’s really what I feel very passionate about because a lot of folks seem to have chosen their side. I think there’s room for both digital and print to work together and to really help one another. An app supplements the print cookbook, and it gives the readers a new way to connect with the brand.
People use cookbooks in many ways: They take it in the kitchen, and they want to cook from it, or they use it for entertainment and they want to look at the pictures on the couch. But I think there’s a third way where phones and small devices will come in as a very quick reference recall: “I cooked this recipe once, but I’m at the store and can’t remember what I need to buy to make it again.” And so I think cookbooks will evolve into these multi-format, multi-device tools.
So you don’t think cookbooks are a dying breed?
We as a culture love cookbooks, we love the way they look, we love holding them — we’re used to it. If you go back 15 years and watch how people migrated from magazines and newspapers and books to getting more of their recipes online, it’s the same kind of leap that’s happening with tablets and phones. But people never abandoned cookbooks. Anyone who’s afraid that cookbooks are going to disappear should just look back 15 years.
What was the biggest challenge when creating a cookbook app?
Our New Italian Pantry app is so visual we wanted you to see the food first, and get excited about how it looks — like a cookbook does. You flip through a cookbook to look at the pictures, you don’t flip through a cookbook to look at the fine print. To be able to fit in all of those beautiful photos, we originally were looking at an app that was going to be around a gig and a half, if not more. It was massive, so it took us a while to figure out how to streamline our app so it was smaller. I think for the consumer that makes a huge difference — if you buy an app that’s eats up a gig and a half of space in your device, that’s going to be the first thing you get rid of when you reach capacity, but we still wanted to include those great photos, too.
Photo: New Italian Pantry
Where do most food apps go wrong?
Where I’ve seen food apps go wrong, and especially cooking apps, is that they either have 1) good content and good recipes, but not much else, 2) they are very tech savvy and made by folks who wanted to feature the technology and the bells and whistles, but not the recipes, or 3) they were just pretty and simple.
But I didn’t see any apps that combined all three into one. So we wanted to create something that people could actually cook from where the iPad’s in your kitchen, but you don’t have to touch it a lot. We also wanted the app to have little detail photos of what the chef means when she says “dark brown” or “finely chopped,” which is one thing I think tablets or anything digital can do better with recipes.
What’s next for you and New Italian Pantry?
This is actually the first in a series of similar apps. I want to find other chefs who, like Sarah, are really passionate about ingredients and who cook food at their restaurants that can be recreated at home.
We’re also working on another app we built last summer that we’re going to launch probably in the next few weeks called Daily Specials. It’s a way for restaurants to let their customers know what their specials are by sending a push notification. A lot of what Yelp and deal sites like Groupon do is that they are meant to get restaurants new customers. But Daily Specials reminds customers who already know and love the restaurant why they want to go back, which is an area that’s sort of yet to be explored on the market.
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