I’ll be honest: when I volunteered to present a website this Friday for class, I had no idea what website I would choose. For the most part, I get my recipes and ideas from what I see around me and from other blogs, be they personal or a newspaper’s food blog. But then I did a little thinking and remembered Epicurious.
Epicurious, owned by Conde Nast Digital, has strong ties to Bon Appetit magazine (and had ties to the now defunct Gourmet magazine), but is its own entity. The presentation of the front page, for the most part, is clean and organized. Most of the site’s content is organized under the three main tabs on the top: Recipes & Menus, Articles & Guides, and Community. The advanced search option just under Recipes & Menus is a feature I really like. You can search by ingredients, then narrow your search down by cuisine type, season or occasion, course, and main ingredient. Other options include dietary restrictions, like vegan, kosher or low sodium, and there’s even an option to exclude recipes that include common allergens like eggs, dairy or nuts.
Another feature that I like is the user ratings and reviews provided for each recipe. Quite often on websites that offer recipes don’t include any sort of feedback, and the cook or baker is left taking the author’s word. This way, before spending the time, ingredients and energy on a recipe that may not turn out well, people will know what exactly it is that works or doesn’t about a specific recipe. This is just one aspect of the website (the Community section being the largest part) that encourages user participation.
There are many menus and articles written by Bon Appetit staff, which is where the journalism part of this website comes in. One drawback is that the author name(s) of well put together menus and well written articles aren’t linked, ie there’s no way to click on a specific author’s name and see what else he or she has contributed. Another area of good journalism is the cooking videos section: there are videos for practically every subsection of the website, in addition to user videos.
There are a few things that I think could be improved, however. One of the most helpful sections of the site, “Resources,” appears as a sidebar towards the bottom of the page and as a link that blends in to the rest of the header under the name “cook’s tools.” Additionally, the “How to Cook” subsection under Articles & Guides is a bit misleading, as it mostly just features cookbooks the authors on the site like. A better place to learn cooking tips is the video section I mentioned above. Finally, some areas of the site are just outdated, like the fact that some of the most recent articles in the “Entertaining” subsection are about how to throw a good summer party.
Overall, though, I think the site is a great resource for anyone with any level of interest in all kinds of cooking. The website that I might say is closest to Epicurious is the Food Network’s website, but I believe Epicurious is the superior site.