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Battle of the celebrity chef apps | townfood - recipes, restaurant reviews and food news

Battle of the celebrity chef apps

Only two celebrity chefs, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, have taken the plunge and released iPhone applications. With Gordon Ramsay threatening to join in any day now, townfood thought it time to see whether the apps were worth their salt or just a flash in the pan (sorry).

There are numerous recipe apps out there, a lot of which are free to purchase, so townfood wanted to find out whether it's worth spending a little bit on an app with the celebrity name attached. 

Facts and figures:

Starting with Nigella, she got in there first and released her app in April 2010.

  • Cost: £1.19
  • 70 recipes (10 exclusive to the app)
  • 40 minutes of video footage
  • 3.5 stars out of 5 (average from 114 iTunes users)
  • Voice control
  • Photography of finished dishes
  • Shopping list feature

And now on to Mr Oliver:

  • Released May 2010
  • Cost: £4.99
  • 60 recipes (all exclusive to the app)
  • 21 videos
  • 4 stars out of 5 (average from 530 iTunes users)
  • Photography of finished dishes as well as step by step photos
  • Shopping list feature

Now down to the detail. Firstly, the recipes. We were a bit disappointed that only 10 of Nigella’s recipes were exclusive to the app. With Nigella’s books being in so many kitchens and her programmes having aired for many years, a number of the recipes seemed very familiar, salt and pepper squid for example, or roquamole (guacamole with Roquefort). Jamie, however, has an entirely new collection which instantly gave him plus points.

Nigella’s recipes can be searched through by ingredient, the book that they appeared in, or by ‘food moods’ (e.g. fun, indulgent, nibbly, etc.). There is also a full search facility. Jamie’s app just has all the recipes organised into categories such as simple risottos, classic meat and quick curries. As with Nigella, there is also a search option. Having the numerous different search methods within Nigella's app made it feel like there weren't that many recipes on the app because of crossover between different groups.

Both have a shopping list function where you can add all of the ingredients from a recipe to a shopping list, you can then tick off the individual ingredients once they are in your trolley. Nigella’s ticked ingredients grey out on the list, but Jamie’s go to the bottom of the list, which makes it easier to identify what is still left to buy.

Nigella has ten recipe videos, some slightly self-indulgent video introductions to the various food moods and cookbooks and six ‘how to’ videos, for example dicing a mango and preparing pudding moulds. Jamie restricts his videos to one introductory video, and 17 instructional videos on more generic topics such as knife care, chopping an onion and cooking a perfect steak.

The final part up for analysis is the photos that accompany the recipes. On both sites there are good images of the finished dish, but what separates Jamie’s app are step-by-step photos at each stage of the recipe. This is a very useful feature as it gives assistance with things that are difficult to describe in words, for example what constitutes a roughly chopped tomato or what lightly whipped cream should look like. 

Nigella's app has one feature that Jamie's does not: voice control. This means that once in a recipe and in the full flow of cooking, instead of having to use a greasy finger to move the page on to the next instruction, you can just shout 'forwards' and it moves on for you - very handy for the messy cook.

In conclusion, I think Jamie’s app is, all-in, a more considered and functional app – the defining points for me are the exclusive app recipes and the step-by-step photographs. However, it is £3.80 more expensive, and Nigella did get there first. Let’s wait and see what Gordon has to offer – his website posted a news item this month saying it was coming soon, so we shouldn’t have to wait too long.

celebrity chef apps