Despite rumors, the recipe — ya know, the thing you use to compile and cook a meal — is far from dead.

That much was clear at the Smart Kitchen Summit today, when CNET’s Ashlee Clark Thompson talked to a panel of food entrepreneurs about the state of the recipe and how it’ll change in future. Joining her onstage were Cliff Sharples, co-CEO of Fexy, Yuni Sameshima, CEO of Chicory, and Jason Cohen, the CEO of Analytical Flavor Systems.

“Because there’s such an interest in food, you have to be able to have a recipe,” said Sharples in response to Thompson’s first question, “Is the recipe dead?” In fact, all three panelists wholeheartedly agreed the recipe is fully alive in 2018 and will stay that way for the foreseeable future. Here’s what they had to say:

Shoppable recipes will be highly personalized.
Nowadays, those of us who cook grab our recipes from multiple sources: websites, apps, hard-copy cookbooks, recipes passed down from family members. “There are so many blogs, and influencers and experts out there,” Sameshima noted while onstage.

And those companies offering tools around shoppable recipes need to take those different sources into account. The cookbook isn’t going away (Sharples says sales are actually up 20 percent year-over-year for cookbooks); your mom’s meatloaf recipe will still be relevant when your kids are old enough to cook. The future of the recipe isn’t about replacing those sources, it’s about centralizing them to create a highly personalized experience for the user.

Recipes reflect large-scale shifts in food.
“There’s always going to be a role for tradition,” Cohen said of food and flavors. That said, he noted the large-scale shifts flavors and ingredients go through over time. Consumers in the U.S. have more of a taste for bitter flavors, for example, according to Cohen — dark chocolate, black coffee, etc.. Siracha was once unheard of around home cooks; now it’s a regular staple in a growing number of pantries. More and more shoppable recipes reflect these changes, and will continue to evolve as more of these shifts occur.

Different generations interact differently with recipes.
Sharples noted that one of the differences between generations when it comes to the kitchen is what they focus on with recipes. For example, younger generations “want to know why this is the best recipe and [want to know] new techniques. If there are new tools that challenge what mom said, they’re fine with that.”

Grocery delivery has given recipes a boost.
Few people plan recipes days in advance, something that’s historically been a problem when it comes to using recipes and cooking at home. The advent of grocery delivery has changed that. Whereas getting ingredients to execute a recipe used to require a lot of effort and planning, same-day delivery and pickup eliminates the need to plan while simultaneously making it easier to create a meal in the kitchen.

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Jenn is a writer and editor for The Spoon who covers restaurant tech and food delivery, developments in agriculture and indoor farming, and startup accelerators and incubators. On the side, she moonlights as a ghostwriter for tech industry executives and spends a lot of time on the road exploring food developments in more remote parts of the country. Previously, she was managing editor of Gigaom’s market research department and was once a competitive pinball player. Jenn splits her time between NYC and Nashville, TN.


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