I have long been a fan of Jamie Oliver. There’s something inimitable about his cookery style that gives him fantastically widespread appeal. The unassuming and honest qualities evident in his public persona come across effortlessly in his food; watching him reminds me of Gusteau, the famous chef Remi so admires in Pixer’s Ratatouille.
I can hear them saying in unison:
Anyone can cook!
Jamie’s current iPhone app, called Jamie’s Recipes, has just been heavily updated and now works beautifully on the iPad as well. The question is; does it deserve a place in your life?
Anyone Can Cook!
I’m not sure how long it was before someone saw the immense potential for using the iPad in the kitchen. It’s the perfect cookery companion, so long as you’re not too worried about getting it a little smudged (or have aquired adequate protection).
Its advantages over the iPhone are obvious. The larger screen makes for a much more pleasant experience, more closely resembling that of using an actual cookery book (with pages and everything). Albeit one that also gives you access to audio tips and video tutorials at the touch of your fingers.
While the iPhone app is certainly a better shopping companion, the iPad is definitely a better experience when actually cooking. Let’s take a look at it!
Getting Your Hands Messy
Most of us appreciate when care and attention has been put into making something look really good, particularly when the result is all the more functional for it! This is without a doubt the case for Jamie’s Recipes.
The design of the iPad app is just gorgeous and makes full use of great photography and the iPad’s display. What’s even better is that the layout and operation of the app is also incredibly intuitive; tap a pack to have it displayed, and swipe left and right to move between recipes and videos. The layout of the recipes in this mode is much like that of coverflow in iTunes, but you can simplify the view if you so wish.
To simplify the view and have everything displayed in a grid, just tap the icon on the left of the toolbar.
Once you’ve selected a recipe, you are taken to the front page of the chosen recipe which shows you the finished dish and gives you a single line of description. From here you can choose to see the ingredients list (more on that later), the equipment needed, or edit the number of people the recipe is for.
You can usually only choose between 2 and 4 when selecting a number of people for the dish.
Simply swipe gently to the left to have the recipe move forward one step, the next picture in the flow will appear with intructions beneath it. A more vigorous swipe will have you skipping a few steps, allowing you to cycle through parts of the recipe that you know.
While I did occasionally swipe past a step by accident, I also appreciate the smoothness of the step-by-step instructions and the usefulness of the accompanying photographs.
This is a great way to get involved and cook up some new recipes, the combination of clear instructions and sensible images makes even relatively complicated meals easy!
I would, however, have liked to see another viewing mode for recipes, just like on the home screen, perhaps one that highlighted a few steps at a time but without images. Some of the steps are quite short, it seems unnecessary to have to swipe past them one by one; particularly if you’ve already made the dish once before…
The Food Itself
It’s worth mentioning the actual quality of the dishes contained within Jamie’s Recipes, I guess that’s the most important element, right?
I, personally, have enjoyed every meal that I have made using this app – I’ve enjoyed every Jamie meal I’ve ever made for that matter! This does, obviously, come down to personal taste in the end. I would say that most people’s tastes are adequately covered in the app, although you may have to buy a couple of recipe packs to get a selection that you like. Start with a few that you’re sure you’ll like, and then branch out!
For pizza fans (who isn’t) I’d recommend the Cheat’s Pizza. It’s a delicious alternative to making an actual pizza from scratch, which I’ve got down to about 15 minutes (I’m not joking).
Salt and Pepper
I’d said I’d mention the ingredients list, so I will.
There is an ingredients list feature in Jamie’s Recipes, which makes it very easy to keep track of everything you need for a recipe – just tap the add ingredients icon when viewing a dishes list.
Be sure to adjust the recipe for the correct number of people first!
You can then go through quickly and cross off any items you already have, leaving you with a stripped back list of needs. Be sure to use the Aisle function on the list, it’s a clever way to make your actual shop that much efficient by organising things by shop section.
My only gripe here is that the list feature doesn’t sync with the iPhone version of the app (although I understand why), so it’s definitely worth just adding each recipe to your ingredient list on your iPhone, presuming you have one…
The ingredients list hasn’t really changed, but it’s still a fantastically useful feature – one that I use all the time!
Space to Grow
Despite being a great app, the App Store ratings seem to confer further approval, there is certainly space for improvement. I would love to see some kind of ingredients list synchronisation, allowing you to add things to your shopping list on your iPad but have them show up on your phone.
Following on from that it would be even better if lists could synch to multiple people’s devices, but perhaps that’s asking too much…
I would also like to see some sort of timer system introduced. Screen space was an issue with the iPhone app, but on the iPad app there’s plenty of scope to include the appropriate timers for things – they could even be pre-set with the suggested timings for things.
With the arrival of iPhone 4S and Siri, perhaps they would make an even better timer solution. I’d still like to see it integrated though, if only for those of us without new gadgets.
I’d also like to see more recipe packs added, and a shorter release cycle. There has been a major update to the app interface, but no new content added, which certainly seems strange to me…
Finally, and perhaps least important, I would live to see a clever hands-free method of moving from one step to the next. A voice command system could help here, allowing users to switch backwards and forwards at will, or bring up the ingredients list. Third-party (and iPad) integration of Siri would be incredible here, allowing you to ask for readouts of instructions or ingredients, voice conversion of units, and even allowing Siri to find you alternatives if you forgot to get something from the shop.
The final thing I’d like to note about Jamie’s Recipe is about how much attention to detail has gone into the app upgrade, despite my previous section on where it lacks.
One of the most obvious example of this attention is the use of little voice snippets from Jamie when you’re doing certain things, he’ll give you an extra hint about pasta at the pasta stage etc. In addition I also found the short sound effects that populate the app to be nice touches, particularly the ding you get when you favourite a recipe…
Jamie’s Recipes is, without a doubt, one of the best cookery apps on the iPad. If you’re purely taking the interface and design into account, I think it’s probably the very best.
The app itself is free, and comes with a few taster recipes, while the extra recipe packs are (relatively) well priced. It’s good to be able to pick and choose (no healthy meals pack for me…). I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Jamie’s Recipes to anyone with an iPad, it’s helping to usher in a new way to get excited in the kitchen.