If you’ve ever ruined an entire meal because of a seemingly tiny mistake in timing or ingredient proportioning, than we have an app for you.
SideChef, an advanced step-by-step cooking app, provides voice instructions that guide you through the steps of any given recipe, ensuring a near-perfect outcome every time. It’s still in its Alpha stage (and is raising funds for further development via Kickstarter), but is bound to be a hit with tech-savvy amateur chefs.
We spoke to Kevin Yu, CEO and founder of SideChef, who began his career at the company responsible for creating World of Warcraft. He went on to co-found Superplay Games, and began developing SideChef in early 2013. Yu’s background in gaming is apparent in SideChef’s design; the app is highly social, and users can earn badges, achievements and titles while they interact with one another. Keep an eye out for SideChef for iPhone and iPad in the app store later this year.
BUSINESS INSIDER: How did you come up with the idea for SideChef?
KEVIN YU: A few years ago I was trying to impress a girl by cooking her a fancy 3-course meal. Let’s just say the results were pretty embarrassing! But I realised the mistakes I made in the kitchen were as common as getting the timing wrong or forgetting an ingredient. They could’ve been avoided if there weren’t so many time sensitive tasks for me to keep track of at the same time. So it was my desire to prevent and simplify that experience for others that inspired the idea for SideChef.
BI: Where will you get the recipes that are used in the app?
KY: We’re launching with over 100 recipes, covering a wide range of ethnic regions and dietary preferences, curated from several awesome blogs such as Closet Cooking, Oh Bite It!, and Feed Me Phoebe. All the recipes feature beautiful step-by-step photos and instructions, while the app guides you through the whole process. SideChef also comes with an easy-to-use recipe creator tool that encourages users to upload their own recipes for others to try.
BI: So is SideChef a social app? Can users interact?
KY: Absolutely. Food brings people together, and, knowing that, we have created SideChef to be a social platform for cooking and culinary exchange. Say you love a lasagna recipe that you found on the app; you can choose to “save” that recipe to your favourites list, or follow the creator so that you’re subscribed to their activity and new recipe uploads. Users can also interact with their friends or make new ones by rating other recipes, complimenting other profiles, and sharing their latest dishes. Similar to LinkedIn or Facebook, we hope people can search someone’s SideChef profile and learn about a whole new side of your friends and colleagues as well, like that they secretly have a clam chowder recipe with thousands of downloads.
BI: SideChef has an interesting gaming element – users can earn different accolades based on their use of the app. Could you elaborate a bit on how that works?
KY: We offer a fun program of badges, titles and achievements for users to collect as they grow as SideChefs. The more you cook and interact with other users, the more progress you’ll make. Some of the titles will be exclusive, awarded to users who have shown real expertise in a certain area or cuisine. Be the ‘BBQ Grillmaster’ in your neighbourhood!
BI: What do you feel differentiates SideChef from other recipe apps or cooking apps out there?
KY: We want to make cooking easy and worry-free, similar to using GPS when driving somewhere new. SideChef guides the user through the entire cooking process from aggregating shopping lists to simple step-by-step voice-guided cooking instructions. Timers are also automatic, so there is no need to worry about the multiple tasks going on at the same time. We also hope that with an easier cooking experience, users will be inspired to cook more, and eventually create their own recipes.
BI: Who is your target market?
KY: Whether the closest you’ve come to cooking is microwaving a hot pocket, or you are an experienced chef, I believe everyone will enjoy using SideChef. You can learn how to cook through step by step instructions, try new recipes, or even upload and share your culinary creativity and knowledge with others. More and more people look towards the internet to learn how to cook, but I want to deliver an accessible, easy-to-use app that you can actually bring into the kitchen with you.
BI: How do you think the app will change the cooking experience for its users?
KY: SideChef is a solution to the challenges and mistakes that make cooking seem overwhelming, especially for those people without much experience. SideChef acts as a virtual sous chef that makes sure you don’t forget to add the egg or leave something in the oven too long. While you are using SideChef, the cooking process is simply easier and more fun.
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