Okay, I’ll admit it: I don’t cook much, and when I do, it’s usually something simple like eggs or pasta. I’d like to be more adventurous, I swear, but every time I try to follow a fancy recipe, I always end up covered in sweat and/or tears.
That’s why I’m eager to try out recipes from a startup called Kitchenbowl, which is announcing today that it has raised $1 million in seed funding.
Now, it’s possible that you’re perfectly okay with the recipes you can already find online, but it sounds like the husband-and-wife founding team of Ryan Waliany (CEO) and Serena Wu (chief creative officer) have had similar struggles. Sure, that recipe might look simple, but you could suddenly discover that 10 different steps have been combined under the umbrella of “prep work,” while other steps might be frustratingly vague.
Googling for recipes can be particularly risky, Waliany added, since many recipe sites are more focused on SEO than on quality.
With Kitchenbowl, on the other hand, recipes are supposed to be broken down step-by-step, with each step illustrated by either a photo (for the simple bits) or a GIF (for steps where you want to see exactly how the chef did something, like folding the dough around a dumpling).
The Kitchenbowl app highlights different recipes and cooks, but you can also find new content by following other users. Wu said one of the main factors that the app looks at when deciding which recipes to recommend is whether or not users have posted photos of the completed dish — after all, that’s “pretty hard to forge,” and it shows that someone actually succeeded in following the directions and making something they’re happy with (as opposed to just recommending a recipe for apple pie because hey, they like pie).
In order to build up this library of content (it has about 1,000 recipes so far), Kitchenbowl is also trying to make the recipe creation process as easy as possible. They’re created using the Kitchenbowl iPhone app, and Wu said that about half the recipes were published in 30 minutes or fewer.
Waliany compared the broader vision to home redecorating startup Houzz, where you can browse photos and articles to find ideas, then hire pros and buy products in order to actually do the redecorating. Similarly, he said his eventual goal is to “cover the ecosystem” by allowing you to buy the ingredients for the recipe, though the details of how that would work aren’t totally clear yet — Kitchenbowl could partner with one of the existing recipe-and-ingredient delivery services, or it could become (in Wu’s words) “the Etsy for small food brands.”
As for the funding, it was led by Jon Staenberg (startup investor and also founder of Hand of God Wines), with participation from AllRecipes investor Sugar Mountain Capital, Egencia President Rob Greyber, Chasing Unicorns, Indicator Fund, Andy Liu, and others. In addition, former AllRecipes CEO Bill Moore has agreed to join the advisory board.
Oh, and even though the company is headquartered in Seattle, Waliany and Wu are spending the next few months in New York City as part of the Food-X accelerator.