Top Chef Apps of 2012
More than just cookbook apps, these chef apps tools will make you a better chef
The app market is glutted with simple recipe and cookbook apps of varying quality, but we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and tracked down chef apps targeted to professionals and serious amateurs, so you can get down to the stuff you really care about.
1. The Professional Chef Apps (iPad)
This is the mother of all chef apps, produced by the Culinary Institute of America; in fact, this would be the only chef app you’d need, and we’d have a much shorter article, but for the $49.99 price tag. Despite the cost, it’s worth a look—it includes the official text of the CIA’s culinary degree program, along with over 100 videos to help you perfect your technique, quizzes and activities to help you internalize what you learn and 850 restaurant-quality recipes. If you think of it as the equivalent of an online cooking class from one of the top culinary schools in the country, it’s a steal. (Cost: $49.99)
2. Epicurious Chef Apps (Android, iPhone)
If you’re not ready to take the plunge with The Professional Chef, Epicurious is easily the best free app for chefs on the market. While the Professional Chef is clearly an educational app, Epicurious is more focused on recipes, with over 30,000 recipes from respected chefs and cookbooks. All their recipes are vetted by Epicurious staff, so there’s no rubbish content; and if you have a hard time keeping track of multiple time-sensitive items at once, each recipe has built-in timers for each step, so you can just wait for the beep. Also contains a shopping applet, so you’ll always have the right ingredients, and cycle through them while they’re still fresh. (Cost: free)
3. Mise en Place Chef Apps (iPhone)
This is a great app for chefs who struggle to stay organized. You can schedule all your upcoming meals, plan your grocery shopping, and set up your upcoming tasks so you can get all your prep work done right on time. While Epicurious and other recipe apps have general versions of what it offers, Mise en Place benefits from a narrow focus, allowing you to set alarms for time-consuming tasks like preparing stock or soaking beans days in advance. One of the best uses of Mise en Place is planning meals based on your leftovers and ingredients. Having your to-do list in an at-a-glance weekly and daily format can make ambitious meals a much easier proposition. (Cost: $2.99)
4. Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio Chef Apps (Android, iPhone)
Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio is a great app for anyone who likes a scientific approach to cooking. Ratio presents an interesting philosophy—instead of being a slave to recipes, understanding the basics of how ingredients interact can make it easy to create the textures and flavors you want in any dish. The benefit of this method is that, if you’re not getting the results you want from a given recipe, you’ll know how to fix it. It also makes it easier to scale your recipes for any number of people. The app allows you to connect with other chefs using this method anywhere you have wireless internet access. It might be an easier app to use if you’ve read the book, but the idea is simple enough. (Cost: $4.99)
5. Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials Chef Apps (iPhone)
We include this chef apps primarily because several of the above apps neglect Mexican cuisine, and this app goes beyond recipes, providing instructional videos to refine your skills. It also includes vital facts about commonly-used ingredients for Mexican cuisine—where to find them, how long they keep, and how to get the most out of them. It’s a little light on the quantity of recipes—it only features 35—but they’re explained in loving detail, so you’ll know exactly how to bring them to life. (Cost: $2.99)
This guest article is contributed by Jane Johnson. She is a staff writer for GoingCellular, a popular site that provides cell phone news, commentary, reviews, chef apps and more.