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Former Cookbook Writer Creates Mobile Skillet To Cook Up Apps

Deborah Chud

Millions of young adults need a cooking mother on their phones.

By Deborah Chud (Founder, Mobile Skillet)

In 1996, I was a bored medical educator looking for a thrill. I left Tufts University School of Medicine for ZonePerfect Nutrition Corporation, where I signed on as senior medical editor. The company was growing at warp speed and there was an all-hands-on-deck mindset – you did whatever needed to be done that your skills qualified you to do.

Because I was an English teacher in a former life and an avid cook in my current one, I ended up writing recipe columns and reviewing cookbooks for the Zone website. I also found myself starring in cooking demos for infomercials.

I soon developed a reputation in healthy cooking circles. Eventually, a cookbook publisher commissioned me to write a cookbook for people on the Zone diet, which came out in 1999. I had no interest in publishing a second book and retired. But in 2009 I got internet fever and started my first website.

I immediately appreciated the possibilities for transmitting cooking information digitally — especially the capacity for hyperlinking “cook’s notes” that had traditionally been relegated to sidebars. I saw the potential for embedding videos in recipes by linking them to individual ingredients and steps. At that point, no one had ever done it. I called them “ClickTips” and thought they were a big deal, but no one noticed them.

Meanwhile, I was teaching my college-age son to cook. He knew that eating in was better for his waistline, his wallet, and the planet, and he was determined to do more of it. I gave him a few lessons and send him off to cook for himself at school. He’d go to the store and call me: “What does a shallot look like?” “Are green onions the same as scallions?”

I knew there had to be millions of young adults like him who needed a cooking mother on their phones. I started to get an idea for an app for young adults that would offer a basic cooking course with step-specific how-to videos and comprehensive info on ingredients.

I had no tech knowledge beyond my website. I went through several teams of developers in a nightmare scenario, confronting incompetence, negligence, and misrepresentation at every turn. Costs ballooned, timelines disintegrated, marketing calendars were trashed. I spent hundreds of hours correcting their errors, often working from 6am until 1am for months at a time. By the end, I had learned how to do almost everything except write code.

Somehow the project survived and I submitted Trufflehead to Apple about a year ago. In January of 2012, Apple gave me its imprimatur by featuring my app on its “New & Noteworthy”, “Top 25 Lifestyle” and “What’s Hot” iPhone app lists.

Sales skyrocketed.

From the outset, my plan had been to make Trufflehead the first app created on a platform that I would then use to build apps for other cooking pros. However, what I had actually received from one team of developers was a fake that I only discovered when it was too late. The revenues from Apple-powered sales put me back in a position to build a real platform, and that’s what I did.

I founded Mobile Skillet to produce affordable, high-quality, cutting-edge recipe apps for restaurateurs, chefs, food bloggers, food & beverage companies, and cookbook authors looking to reach mobile-savvy cooking enthusiasts. Our state-of-the-art platform is complete and I’m on the verge of submitting my first platform app to Apple.

I’m launching the company by sponsoring the world’s first recipe contest whose prize is a personality-branded app for iPhone and iPad featuring the winner’s recipes.

Let us know who you are and what you’re working on in the comments below!

About the guest blogger: Deborah Chud is Founder of Mobile Skillet, one of the only digital media companies producing high-quality and affordable cooking apps. She has been a medical educator and member of the faculty at Tufts University School of Medicine. She also contributed as medical editor, food columnist, and cookbook reviewer to ZonePerfect Nutrition Corporation. Her cookbook, The Gourmet Prescription, was published in 1999. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Boston University School of Medicine.