Electronic Spice

Rouxbe claims to be “The Recipe to Better Cooking” but is it? The concept is simple: technique is […]

Rouxbe claims to be “The Recipe to Better Cooking” but is it?
The concept is simple: technique is better communicated by video than text. Recipes only workif you know what you are doing.

It is beautiful, no doubt, with a dean & delucca-like clean and airy design. In many ways it is a shining example of desing best practices – recipes are broekn out step by step, so you can watch each part once or twice before tyring to coopy. And the food videos are gorgeous, shot in that soft-porn style that has made food-peddlers from saveur to rachel ray sucesses.

But of course they have their weaknesses, disguised by elegant user expereince and a lightweight airy desing that owes as much to Getty Images as it does to Dean and Delucca.
First off, I don’t want to cook from my laptop any more than I have to. I have a small enough machine and a big enough kitchen (barely!) my laptop can come onto the counter. But this is bad news:

  • spills are much more expensive on a laptop than a cookbook, with the possible except of the El bulli sereis.
  • my laptop keeps falling asleep, making it hard to keep my place and to keep pace.
  • I don’t like to hit “next” or any buttons on my laptop when I’m cooking, because my fingers are often disgusting. Or wet, because I just washed them as I do a dozen times while cooking a meal.

    A simple solution might be just to unpack the videos into printable recipes with screenshots. But this raises the real problem of Rouxbe. They are too pretty.

    Those video recipes are gorgeous. They will take too long and cost too much to light, shoot and cut (not to mention the need for a ‘food stylist’.) The addition of making illustrated text versions will further drive up cost. This is an unhealthy proposition for a start up.

    It also hurts their ability to gather user-generated content. They set the bar too high– how am I going to feel posting my “how ot prepare fava beans” shot on my digital camera with its video feature? Boom, they’ve just locked themselves out of both a source of free content and a way to deeply engage their audience.

    Design is not enough. But for now… look at that sexy halibut, scantily glad in frisee. Oooh, baby!


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      Thanks for the comments on Rouxbe, both on our strengths and on our weaknesses.

      Few clarifications and comments that I’d like to share. First, I couldn’t agree more with your comments on the in-kitchen connection. While some do use their laptops to follow along to our recipes, this has been a strong objection over the past year or so as we present the Rouxbe opportunity to both investors and users. Our goal is not to solve this delivery platform challenge, it is to value-add the technology companies that are already working to solve this in-kitchen connection challenge… like Samsung, LG, Sony, Salton, and Dacor who all have in-kitchen screens but who have little to value-add a purchasing decision. Next enter Apple… yes our videos will soon be avaiable for iTunes download playable on iPods, iPods connected to TV’s and the HD Rouxbe content on the new Apple TV device. As we move rapidly into the world of rich media on multiple wireless delivery devices… Rouxbe will be ready and will bring value to these offerings.

      As for the production comments, two things:

      1) There is no food styling at Rouxbe. This is real cooking. What you see is what you should get when you follow the steps of the video. From someone who has cooked for over 25 years, I say refreshing. Finally… a re-produceable learning-based cooking tool.

      2) Yes, it costs money to produce our content. No surprise here. But there is clearly a market for quality content in the market place with 530 million cooking/wine books sold each year globally. Our close-up media capture process however, is about 5 times more efficient that producing a broadcast food show. Chalk this up to our production team. They can make people hungry buttering toast. And making people hungry is what sells. So we drive the stake in the ground right here.

      As for user-generated content… we are moving in this direction but with a slight twist. We will not open the gates to just anyone. We are building a brand at Rouxbe as opposed to ‘building to flip’. Our goal is to provide the finest leaning-based cooking resource in the marketplace and to do so, we will set a standard and build trust with our audience by becoming their trusted editor. People need help in the kitchen. They don’t need 1,600 chocolate cake recipes. They need someone to say here is the best chocolate cake recipes (with a few variations) and then to clearly show them how to make it. Can you imagine going to restaurant and being handed a menu the size of a phonebook? So we will establish a community of professional chefs, journeyman cooks, and apprentices who will stake their reputations on providing the best cooking resource. They will compete and be judged (personality free – unlike broadcast television shows) by their piers in the food industry ensuring that only the best advice and assistance is passed on to our community so that at-home cooks can focus on the experiences they share around food instead of the frustrations they encounter when producing it.

      And in the end… when the dust settles and media viewers finally tire from the endless stream of user-generated content from the hundreds/thousands of You Tube wannabe’s (and they will I believe) … a trusted quality brand will emerge, and that brand will be Rouxbe.

      Many thanks,
      Joe Girard

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