By Linda Gradstein, The Media Line
When Cindy Flash wanted to make eggs benedict a few days ago, she turned to a new cooking app developed in Israel, called Look & Cook.
“It’s a great idea — you set up your tablet in the kitchen and you can see all the ingredients laid out and get step by step instructions,” Flash, who lives in a kibbutz just a few miles from Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip told The Media Line. “I read about the app, downloaded it, and the eggs benedict turned out wonderfully.”
Flash says she appreciates the short instructional videos that accompany the recipes. For example, she watched the video on how to poach eggs before tackling the eggs benedict.
Look & Cook is the latest project of Kinetic Art, an Israeli company founded by Oran Huberman, a former journalist, and Dudu Nimran. The cooking app, which is free to download, offers detailed explanations for preparing dozens of dishes, most of them from well-known Israeli chef Meir Adoni.
For a casual cook, some of the dishes seem somewhat complicated. Chicken satay with peanut butter and curry marinade, for example, starts off with “using a mortar and pestle, crush one teaspoon coriander seeds and two cardamon pods and set aside.” The recipe also calls for date syrup, sherry vinegar, and fresh pineapple and cilantro — not everyday ingredients on hand.
The site also has a tab called “Shop” where a user can buy many of the gadgets or utensils used in the recipe. The satay offers a mortar and pestle ($65), a pineapple slicer and de-corer ($19.99), a nonstick oval grill pan ($39.99), a cookbook of Thai Street Food by David Thompson ($41.12), a cookbook called Pok Pok ($22.14), a rainbow knife set ($36.89), a rice cooker ($14.38) and an auto measure jars carousel ($24.52).
Co-founder Huberman says the app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times, mostly by users in the United States. His 12-person-company has already raised “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and is in the midst of a second round of financing. They have just signed a deal with the James Beard Foundation, a national professional organization that aims to promote the culinary arts. It will enable them to include recipes from some of the most famous chefs in America, such as Mario Battali and Thomas Keller. As the site is only in English, most users so far are in the US.
“Most people see a recipe on TV as a passive viewer and it ends there,” Huberman told The Media Line. “We want all recipes to be multi-platform, meaning you can see it on TV, and get it on your iPad or Tablet in a step-by-step format that allows you to clearly follow it.”
Amazon Fire TV, a new streaming media player, has included Look & Cook as one of its built-in apps, along with Netflix, Bloomberg, and other content providers.
“We will be built-in on 12 million sets and it will dramatically increase our customer base,” Huberman said.
The app was already featured in a billboard campaign by Apple. Downloads went from several dozen a day to 33,000 daily. While the recipes are free for now, they are introducing premium content as well. Another new feature will be a link to Amazon Fresh, a food delivery service, in which a user will be able to push a button at the end of a recipe and have all of the ingredients needed for the recipe delivered overnight.
Huberman says that as a former journalist he is interested in using different platforms to present content.
“Food touches all of us,” he said. “I think Look & Cook is like a digital Food Network.”
For user Cindy Flash, she’s thinking about what to make this weekend and said the recipe for pancakes “looks quite tempting.”