iPhone Life magazine

The best Apps from Celebrity Chefs

Chefs"...people were not interested in the chef and they were not interested in who was cooking... They were just interested in the end result." So spoke Ed Behr, the author of The Artful Eater and publisher of the respected food journal, The Art of Eating.

Everything changed in the early eighties. The television series, Great Chefs of New Orleans started, and it was soon followed by Great Chefs of San Francisco, Great Chefs of Chicago, and Great Chefs of the West. Prior to then, Julia Child was the only food personality entering people’s homes. By 1992, the Great Chefs series had moved from PBS to the Discovery Channel, and in 1993, the Food Network was born. Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and other “TV” chefs soon became kitchen superstars.

With the popularity of the Food Network and new cooking shows on other networks, a food culture revolution slowly began. The culture was enlivened by magnetic personalities flinging ingredients into hot pans, eating strange foods in countries thousands of miles away, or just inviting us into their home kitchens for a little comfort food.

It was only a matter of time before some of the top chefs began using the iOS platform as another way of expanding their empires. Some of them have it right and deliver a fantastic experience, and others need to infuse more ingredients into their formats.

The secret to becoming a great TV chef is a personality that reaches through the TV and makes the viewer feel like that chef is cooking in your kitchen. The apps that work the best use video as the key ingredient in maintaining the personal relationship between chef and home cook.

Standing above the rest of their kitchen cohorts are the apps featuring Gordon Ramsay and Mario Batali. The Scottish-born Ramsay, bad boy of TV chefs and veteran of seven television series (British and American) has put together two outstanding apps: Gordon Ramsay Cook with Me and MasterChef Academy US. Cook with Me is my personal favorite of the two, but both give the consumer plenty of kitchen material to work with in simple, easy-to-use formats and are worth the cost.

Gordon Ramsay Cook with Me

5.0/5.0; ($7.99, app2.me/4244; iPad version: app2.me/4245)

Gordon Ramsay Cook With Me

With Cook with Me, Ramsay includes 56 recipes, each presented with an HD video of the chef showing you how to make the dish perfectly. Recipes are organized by category (Fast Food, Classics, Weekend Specials), Difficulty (Easy, Medium, Hard), Season, Ingredient (fish, fowl, fruit, etc.), and Time (any, 15, 30, 45). What’s very clever is that you can integrate all of the categories to find the perfect recipe for your particular situation.

Gordon Ramsay Cook With Me-find recipes

For example, you can look for a recipe that falls under these categories: Fast Food, Easy, Summer, Seafood, and under 15 minutes. The result? The recipe for Garlic Prawns.Tapping on View Recipe in the app brings you to a screen that lays out everything you need: a description of the dish, wine pairing, ingredients (with Shopping List option), and the video. There are even 10 videos with Ramsay’s tips, from the correct way to chop an onion to making mayonnaise.

Cook With Me lets you find recipes that fit your specific situation.

MasterChef Academy US

4.0/5.0; ($2.99, app2.me/4246; iPad version: $4.99, app2.me/4247)

MasterChef-Academy-US

MasterChef Academy US is adapted from another of Ramsay’s TV hits, but features chefs who have competed on that particular show, including MasterChef Season One winner, Whitney Miller. The app is hosted by top Chicago chef, Graham Elliot. You’ll find 50 recipes, 100 Master Classes (with basic information on desserts, pasta and rice, fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, etc.) supported by 59 videos that include important kitchen skills like: How to Make a Pan Gravy, How to Crack a Crab, and How to Make the Perfect Omelet. In a nod to the MasterChef TV show, there is even a game element called “Pressure Test.”

" The secret to becoming a great TV chef is a personality that reaches through the TV."

Mario Cooks

5.0/5.0; ($9.99, app2.me/4248)

Mario Cooks

Cook with Me and MasterChef Academy US feature many types of dishes from different cultures, but Mario Batali’s, Mario Cooks stays in one country, his beloved Italy. There are over five hours of video showing Batali cooking 63 different Italian classics (always with a little Batali twist) and demonstrating and teaching 25 techniques and basic kitchen skills. In addition, there are still images that accompany every step of the written instructions. Included is a nice primer on Italian cheeses, a thorough introduction to the wines of Italy by region, and the shopping list module, which allows you to easily see what and how much you need for any recipe. This is standard in most of the cooking apps.Batali, who is now appearing on ABC’s new daily show, The Chew, easily communicates his love and enthusiasm for all things Italian, plus he makes you feel like it’s absolutely possible to cook like a native with his help. Batali personalizes the app with his recommendations for olive oils, pastas, and other Italian essentials.

Food Network: In the Kitchen

3.0/5.0; ($1.99, app2.me/4249)

Food Network: In the Kitchen

This app brings you thousands of recipes from a huge number of celebrity chefs featured on the popular cooking channel. If you like to watch Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, or Giada De Laurentis, they are all here, but only in still photos along with their recipes. The Cool Tools module features a unit converter and a cooking timer. At times, that might prove useful. All the recipes feature level ratings: Easy, Intermediate, and Advanced so you know what to attempt based on your skills. The lack of video is a major drawback, but the number of recipes for the price, along with the easy access from your iOS device, might make it worth the investment.

Quick Collection

3.0/5.0; ($3.99, app2.me/4250)

Quick Collection

I never get tired of looking or listening to the lovely Nigella, but there are only 10 videos to go along with 100 recipes. The best element of this app is that the recipes are designed with a minimum of ingredients, allowing you to learn dishes that require fewer steps and that can find their way from stove to table quickly. The addition of a voice control feature, meant to keep your sticky fingers off your phone, is a nice element, but in its present state of development, it wasn’t very useful.

Fine Dining with the Master Chef

2.0/5.0; ($7.99, app2.me/4251)

Fine Dining with the Master Chef

Michel Roux Jr, who comes from a famous culinary family and is a well-known TV personality in the United Kingdom, presents 65 classic French dishes in this app. Except for four recipes that are accompanied by a video (three of the recipes feature potatoes), the home cook needs to follow the step-by-step guide for each recipe. Lack of still photos for each step in the recipe instructions is another drawback. There are wine recommendations included for most of the recipes. There are some interesting segments in the app. One of them features his father, Michel, and another one provides an inside look at his restaurant, Le Gavroche.

Jamie Oliver’s Apps

Another chef from across the pond, Jamie Oliver, has two apps: his original app, 20 Minute Meals and his newest app, Jamie’s Recipes. The format is basically the same for both apps. They feature detailed photos and step-by-step instructions for each recipe, and a useful listing of pantry and equipment basics.

20 Minute Meals

3.0/5.0; ($6.99, app2.me/2549)

20 Minute Meals

20 Minute Meals contains 60 recipes and 21 videos. Even though it is costly and not as video heavy as some of the other apps we’ve looked at, it’s still a quality item that can provide some solid suggestions for preparing a fast meal when you are in a pinch. Oliver’s energy leaps off the screen, so be prepared to feel the urge to start cooking.

Jamie’s Recipes

2.0/5.0; (Free, app2.me/3648; Additional content via in-app purchases)

Jamie's Recipes

Jamie’s Recipes uses the in-app purchase model. A 10 recipe “taster pack” is included, but if you want more, then you have to pay. Each additional content pack costs $1.99 and includes 10 recipes and some video. The recipe contents from 20 Minute Meals is part of the modules you can purchase. If you like Jamie, get 20 Minute Meals first, and pick up his other app if you need more Jamie.

The most important element about all of these apps is that they can help you cook more fresh, healthy meals at home. But first, you need turn off the TV, get up from the couch, and head to the kitchen!