What it Take to Write an App
By: Patti Cook, BA, MS, Ed.D., Culinary Grad and B & P Student (Photo Credit)
When people find out that I’m a recent online culinary grad and just wrote an app geared to new cooks, they often ask what was the biggest help in writing it. Absolutely, being in culinary school helped the most. The app, New Cooks Glossary, contains over 500 ingredient definitions as well as substitutions for the ingredients and where you find them at the store. There are also more than 100 cooking methods explained. I’ve been a foodie for a long time and knew a lot, but culinary school really gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed to undertake such a big project. I wrote all the content for the app and continue to write for our supporting website, wordstoocookby.com. My business partner, Jill Windwer (who is also my best bud from college), dealt with the technology and business sides of making it happen. The combination of me being in the online culinary program and Jill being a whiz in the digital world worked really well. It’s important to have both perspectives to ultimately go from an idea to an actual app on someone’s phone. Like most things that matter in life, it also requires lots of passion, perseverance, patience and hard work.
In terms of what it actually takes to write an app, the most important thing you have to decide is who your audience is. We decided we really wanted to help new cooks understand basic ideas so they could be successful in creating great food in their own kitchens. The ingredient and cooking definitions are pretty extensive, so the app can help seasoned cooks too. People from other countries are also buying the app; this was a surprise but it makes total sense that non-Americans would find it useful to understand American ingredients. We’re learning along the way that our market is likely larger than we initially thought (a great thing to find out).
Once you know who your app is geared to, you have to narrow in on the purpose—and the competition. We realized early on that there wasn’t an app that had the combination of ingredients, basic cooking methods and terms, where you find things in the grocery store, and what you can substitute for a specific ingredient. We felt these were the key elements to guide new cooks toward success. Our vision is that people can use the app both to guide them while they’re making recipes and while they’re shopping. Our companion website (wordstocookby.com) has easy recipes, helpful hints and links to useful resources, such as cookbooks and products we like.
It’s been a long haul and lots of hard work with challenges, and it’s so exciting that the app is finally complete. I still love to look at it on my phone. When I see wandering, lost looks in the grocery store, I almost always have to go show people the app. I’ve had so many people tell me how great it is—and then proceed to buy it right there standing in the grocery aisle. That’s almost as satisfying as having someone say they love my cooking.