Shoppers and Trends
January 29, 2012
Food apps have become a vital tool in this movement, helping consumers to meet, eat and exchange ideas. One food app that is succeeding on many fronts is Trufflehead, an app that features over 260 recipes, comprehensive information on ingredients and kitchen tools, step-by-step demos and sustainability tips, user forums, and more. Although Trufflehead’s recipes are appealing for any cooking level, its architecture was designed specifically for inexperienced and intermediate cooks. Also, as new cooks learn technique, they can personalize and tailor the app to their needs.
Trufflehead’s creator, Dr. Deborah Chud, was inspired to design the app after she started teaching her son how to cook when he moved into his first apartment during college. After giving him a few hands-on lessons, Chud received a steady stream of questions about ingredients and techniques. She realized that emerging cooks needed an “I’m there for you” cooking resource designed just for them, but she wanted to design something that could also hold the interest of more advanced users. And, of course, it had to be healthy.
“There are two powerful reasons for young people to learn how to cook and to become interested in food and health. One is medical and the other is developmental. Our current obesity epidemic and the chronic diseases associated with it do not spare young adults. People tend to consume less and eat more healthfully at home than in restaurants, so cooking is virtually essential to maintaining a healthy weight. On the developmental side, learning to cook is a means to independence. It’s also a source of tremendous pleasure, an outlet for creative impulses, and a way of connecting with others. It makes life richer in countless ways,” says Chud.
Chud says that the demos are unique in being step-specific. In other words, a recipe containing chopped onions, minced parsley, and grated lemon zest offers a demo of each technique next to the item in the ingredients list. You don’t have to watch an entire dish being prepared to learn what you need to learn, and – once you’ve learned it – you don’t have to watch it again. Recently chosen to be a “featured” app in the Apple App Store, Trufflehead is also the only cooking app that provides Priority Organics labeling, which directs consumers to the produce items that are best to buy in organic form. Another special feature is Trufflehead’s “Doppelgänger” recipes – recipes that exist in both “simple” and “not-so-simple” versions. Additionally, many of the recipes are accompanied by sustainability tips.
“App technology permits immediate access to helpful information, both factual and opinion-based, on a previously unimaginable scale. In the case of Trufflehead, I upload new recipes periodically, so the content is always growing – and Trufflehead users can grow with it. Trufflehead was built to expand,” says Chud.
While scrolling through Trufflehead’s recipe categories, users get immediate access to the opinions of others because the app records the number of “likes” a recipe has received. In the store, they don’t have to ask the produce guy what fennel looks like because they can tap the hyperlink and see it, and they can also learn how to pick a good one. In the kitchen, they can tap the fennel link and learn how to store it. While cooking, users can tap the video icon and see how to remove the core and chop it. And so on. When they’re finished, cooks can take photos of their Trufflehead dishes and upload them to www.trufflehead.com, the online community for sharing experiences with the recipes.
Chud says that the food app experience, though digital, does indeed cross over into the “real” world, helping consumers to stay better informed and become more confident while shopping and cooking. But she also hopes her app will take things a step further, encouraging retailers to better integrate this new form of food technology with their in-store experiences. For example, Chud would like to see Priority Organics labeling in the produce department in the near future.
She adds, “The app is full of entertaining-friendly dishes that can be prepared in advance to limit last-minute stress. Both the volume of information and its convenient accessibility are unusual too. I have it on my iPad and I use it constantly. In Trufflehead, the info is completely at your fingertips when you’re inside a recipe.”