There’s a quote that’s sometimes attributed to the UK entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar, when the PC1512 was announced in 1986, that went along the lines of ‘and mum can use it in the kitchen for her recipes’.
It never sounded entirely convincing, even for a machine as inexpensive as the Amstrad PC, but as other ‘lifestyle’ product categories have come and gone, recipe software just refuses to die; and with cookery programmes still flourishing, Mariner Software no doubt hopes that Mac Gourmet Deluxe 1.2 will take its place alongside Jamie, Hugh, Martha and Delia on your kitchen bookshelf.
Essentially a database, Mac Gourmet is designed to store detailed information about recipes and their ingredients along with any associated nutritional information, as well providing a similar facility for recording detailed wine notes. Add shopping lists, meal planning and the ability to create a personalised cookbook, and you’ve got a powerful electronic kitchen companion for around £30.
Mac Gourmet ships with 80 recipes but it’s easy enough to add your own. Each one includes information like ingredients, directions, preparations, notes, nutrition and so on; the nutritional information is based on figures from the US department of agriculture.
Alternatively, the program supports many of the top recipe sites on the Internet so you can just go to somewhere like www.epicurious.com, find a recipe, highlight the URL and then select Services from the Safari menu, choose Mac Gourmet and then Import Recipe and all the info (including any photos) will be sucked into the database in a flash. It’s a brilliant feature.
Elsewhere you can use the meal planner to create a weekly shopping list and then export it to iCal, print menus for dinner parties, and drag and drop favourite recipes to create a PDF cookbook that can be e-mailed or printed out and shared with friends and family.
Because it’s a database, you can look at the information in lots of different ways. It’s easy to specify which columns are displayed (think rating, category, difficulty and so on), the order they appear in and how recipes are sorted; search features are simple, effective and ingenious. This allows you, for example, to do a ‘cupboard’ search which only displays recipes for which you’ve already got the ingredients.
It’s also possible to create smart lists (say for all recipes that have been rated with three stars or more) which automatically update as new meals are added to the main database; in fact, if you can do it with a database, you can probably do it with Mac Gourmet.
Of course, for the average cook this level of detail is insane, but there’s no doubt that the ability to create, import, store, refine and then find as many recipes as you like will be attractive for forgetful chefs, and it also makes a great electronic family cookbook, preserving homegrown recipes (Clootie Dumplings anyone?) for future generations.
Company: Mariner Software
Contact: 00 1 612 529 3770