Scripps Networks, the parent company of The Food Network, has quietly launched a new website that might just be a "killer app" for online recipe search.
Currently in "beta," Food.com sports a clean, almost zen design -- lots of white space, a bunch of carrots, a sprig of rosemary -- which stands in stark contrast to the brash style of its sibling site, the Food Network. Food.com is a vertical search engine for recipes and an online repository for recipe collections. Down the road, Scripps also plans to add social media tools to enable commentary and interaction between users.
Surprisingly, it's not just a search engine for Scripps' proprietary recipes on the Food Network website and Recipezaar (which Scripps also owns). Rather, Food.com searches all of the major recipe publishers on the web -- from epicurious to Food & Wine (it presently skips over blogs). Unlike these other sites, which search only within their own sites, Food.com's search has no walls. Aside from FoodieView, I believe it's the only recipe search engine of its kind.
Using the Food.com website (or a downloadable toolbar), you may select among sites such as epicurious, gourmet.com, Bon Appetit, CHOW, and other outlets, to search for recipes. Enter search terms and Food.com will display the results from all of the sites in a single, scrollable list. Recipe results and searches may also be filtered by variables such as the type of course, cuisine, main ingredient, technique, special diet, and cooking time.
Interestingly, Food.com doesn't only list recipe titles from the other recipe sites. It generates a thumbnail photo and -- here's what's unusual -- scrapes the entire ingredient lists as well (see screenshot, right). A link is provided for the user to go to the recipe owner's site for the complete instructions. While ingredient lists are generally understood to be copyright-free, and traffic will ultimately be directed to the recipe owners' sites, this seems like a game-changer for recipe search, and I am very curious to see how the other publishers will respond.
Food.com also has a bookmarking feature which enables user's to "add" recipes to your "recipe box" from other sites not included in the recipe search collection. It's a little clunky right now. The function only works for those sites food.com has "white-listed" (the developers told me more sites are being added all the time). Moreover, by adding a recipe from one of these outside sites, Food.com currently only logs the URL and none of the rich information offered on a search of the major publishers.
So, is food.com a game changer? It would seem to eliminate the need to go around from site to site searching for recipes, and it also provides a single place to "store" recipes found online. Moreover, scraping the ingredient lists allows for a time-saving way to skim through recipes and compare their complexity. What do you think?