At a Glance
- Cute map-based interface conveys the worldwide influence of the recipes
- Not easy to navigate and populate the software with recipes and ingredients
Chef Master is an application that automatically grows its recipe database.
Given how many recipes are available on the Internet for just a
few clicks, the only reason to buy a recipe storage program like
Chef Master is because it has a superior interface. Unfortunately,
this interface is not quick or easy to use. It’s simple and
cute, with a blinking animated chef in the upper left and a nifty
map of world continents that you can click on to bring up a list of
countries. But once the novelty has worn off, Chef Master
doesn’t do a good job of accessing recipes quickly and easily.
Structuring it hierarchically by continent and then country means
that you have to do much too much clicking to get to individual
recipes. There’s no search function on the main page or even
within the list of countries. You have to click the Recipe button
at the bottom of the main screen, then click on Browse all Recipes
in order find a search bar. That’s a long way to go to get to
Other recipe database software, like BigOven, for
instance, offer a much more intuitive design, with a prominent
search bar, MS Word-style interface, and tabs to make it quick to
switch among functions. BigOven doesn’t have a focus on world
cuisine built into its design, but it offers international recipes
and makes it easier to find and access those recipes, which is what
a database should do.
Chef Master claims that its edge lies in the community aspect of
the program, which allows users to upload recipes to a server,
which the software will access periodically so that new recipes are
added continually and growing the database without users having to
do it themselves This is a nice idea, but it’s not enough to
make up for a program that’s difficult to use…and it’s not
that different from the way many recipe websites work, either.
Other features of Chef Master are kludgy as well. It expects
that you will put in the ingredients you have on hand and then it
searches to see if you need to buy anything before you cook a
particular recipe. It requires you to choose a quantity for each
item in your inventory but doesn’t include standard purchase
quantities; for instance, there’s neither a gallon option nor
a liter option for milk. If it doesn’t have an ingredient
already in its database, then you must add it to the database and
assign it to an ingredient class from a sparse and seemingly random
list that includes flour, sugar, oats, and nuts but excludes more
standard ingredient types like dairy and meat. Going through all of
these steps makes adding ingredients time consuming and ultimately
not worth the extra effort.
The software is populated with about 750 recipes out of the box,
but the recipes are spread out by country, so there are fewer than
10 recipes for each country. Some of Chef Master’s recipes seem
slight and strangely categorized, too. For instance, one of the
recipes for the United States is ham, brie, and apple quesadillas.
Given that there are only four recipes in the United States
category, there could have been a more representative American food
chosen for it. The other recipes are ginger glazed salmon, slow
cooker spicy game day meatballs, and tequila citrus chicken wings.
It’s an odd combination. A recipe for pound cake lists Aruba
as its country of origin, but the recipe consists of just lemons,
sugar, eggs and a pie crust. It sounds tasty, but a few minutes of
Googling turns up more interesting recipes to make from Aruba:
cashew nut cake, coconut pudding, and bread rolls called pan
dushi, to name a few.
If there’s one thing that’s easy to find on the Web,
it’s recipes. Anyone can find any of thousands of
international recipes online, often in a significantly shorter time
than it would take to find one in Chef Master. It’s not worth
paying money for Chef Master unless it becomes much easier and
quicker to navigate.