Weeknight CookingNew & NowFood52 LifeFood BizNot RecipesFood52 App

Why it Was Time for Our New (Not)Recipes App

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We're delighted that today we launch (Not)Recipes, our first iOS app built in-house, and our most ambitious and exciting project this year—and we're just getting started, with lots more features to come! We thought last year's launches of a wedding registry, a line of cookbooks, and Burnt Toast podcast weren't quite big enough; we could do more...

Photo by James Ransom

We founded Food52 in the belief that people need a curated and trustworthy place to share recipes, to find beautiful and useful products for their kitchens and homes, and to meet like-minded cooks. We wanted to build a site that celebrated the people who shared our passion, and that offered them meaningful ways to contribute to our community. This is why we now have 40,000 excellent recipes, 175,000 great household questions and answers on our Hotline, and a social following that teaches us new things every day—all thanks to you!

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We intentionally designed our recipe form to make it a commitment to add a recipe to our site. Our belief was that making you clear a hurdle would encourage you to upload only your best, most practiced recipes. And this has worked incredibly well.

Braised cauliflower leaves(!) shared by Olia Hercules
Braised cauliflower leaves(!) shared by Olia Hercules

As we've grown, we've looked for easier, faster ways for you to contribute. Our social platforms, Instagram in particular, have become hives of activity. On Instagram, people in our circle are constantly posting what they've cooked and participating in our photo-themed #f52grams contests. We noticed the cooking conversation was changing, too—it became less about the destination and more about the journey.

We also heard from a lot of our food friends that while Instagram was an okay place to post some cooking photos, they hesitate to add too many, lest they bore their less food-inclined followers. Existing social platforms were good for inspiration, but lacked usefulness.

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This got us thinking.

Hot chocolate pro tips shared by Amanda Hesser
Hot chocolate pro tips shared by Amanda Hesser

And we realized that we weren't capturing and celebrating the casual, off-the-cuff cooking that most people do every day. In fact, the great majority of the world's cooking doesn't involve recipes: It's putting together dishes you know, with your own signature touches. It was time to highlight this timeless style of cooking, and all the knowledge and artistry packed into it.

What felt like a natural next step on our mission at Food52 was to create (Not)Recipes, a place for everyone to share what she or he is cooking in the moment. A safe space for you to post as much (or as little) as you want about food!

Tips for hand-rolling pici dough shared by Heidi Swanson
Tips for hand-rolling pici dough shared by Heidi Swanson

(Fun fact: the app is named after our popular column of the same name, that's been tapping community voices to explain how to cook everything from marinara to pancakes to masala chai without a recipe every week since March 2013.)

You can post a photo and short description of what you've made on (Not)Recipes, and the app will magically distill any ingredients you mention into a handy (and editable) grocery list. And you can make your photo look even more scrumptious using filters we designed with our photographer James Ransom (and sourced from you) to reflect the style of some of our favorite food icons, such as Alice Waters, Julia Child, and Anthony Bourdain.

Help Us Make the Best Food-Friendly Filters for Our New App
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Help Us Make the Best Food-Friendly Filters for Our New App

You might post a fried egg and tell us your technique for keeping the bottom crispy, or show us the pork butt you smoked, or the spaghetti carbonara you whipped up after work. (Not)Recipes is a place for triumphs, failures, tips, and experiments—but mostly it's a place to bring cooks together in a real and useful way. We want to inspire you, give you ideas, and allow you to dig into the topics that interest you most. Obsessed with cakes? Dive into #cake! Looking for a new drink? Try #cocktails!

Oh, and while you're at it, try #notcontest—where we'll post monthly contests on inspiring topics. Our first, Your Best 20-Minute Freestyle Dinner, comes with a snazzy prize: a set of Staub cookware and an iPhone 6—just share yours by 11:59PM E.S.T. on April 5, 2016.

We know we're on to something here. What we're launching today—download here—is the kernel of an idea to capture your everyday cooking. We want you to tell us how you like to use it and help us make it an indispensable tool for your cooking. We know there are a lot of great features we want to build in and can't wait to hear from you!


Tags: app, recipes, not recipes