iTunes Meets Facebook & Epicurious: Kitchen Monki Brings A Number of Big Internet Ideas To the World of Food

8/2/10

There’s no denying Seattle is a tech savvy town. And when it comes to food, I think it’s safe to say we’re climbing up in the ranks. We’re the most caffeinated city in the country, according to The Daily Beast (no surprise there), and when it comes to the intersection of food and tech, we are not only on the bandwagon, but way up at the front of the caravan. We’re home to more coffee shops than you can count, and a startup called Bacon Salt that makes zero-calorie, vegetarian, kosher seasoning that tastes like, you guessed it, bacon (it’s real, trust me).

And as if that weren’t enough, we seem to be springing up more and more services and apps for finding the best food around town, and managing our own home cooking. Seattle-based restaurant review site Urbanspoon has taken finding a restaurant to the next level with its mobile app that allows users to, quite literally, shake their way to discovering a new place to eat. Local online recipe sites like Allrecipes, BigOven, and wiki-style recipe encyclopedia Foodista, have been cropping up all over the place, competing for breadth and depth of recipe discovery against popular brands like Conde Nast-owned Epicurious.

But the newest recipe engine to hit the Seattle scene, Kitchen Monki, is challenging its predecessors to do more than just bring recipes to consumers. It wants to simplify all aspects of the cooking process, from searching for dish ideas, all the way down to meal planning, and building the all-inclusive grocery list.

“Kitchen Monki has become the operating system of my cooking life,” says co-founder and self-described ‘top banana’ Sam Kinney.

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Sam Kinney

Rather than focusing on bringing hundreds of thousands of recipes from around the world to the everyday cook, Kinney says his site is truly different from the rest because it instead combines the greatest aspects of recipe search sites, with the library functionality of iTunes, and the social interaction of Facebook.

“It’s really the power tools that we provide to cooks to be organized and prepared and spend less time racing around planning, and more time cooking,” he says. “It is like the offspring of a recipe site and corporate purchasing.”

Kinney, who co-founded sourcing and supply management startup FreeMarkets (now part of Ariba) in the early ’90s, says he grew up in a “great cooking household” and loves finding ways to automate everyday thinking tasks with software.  He got the idea for Kitchen Monki while trying to manage his working life with his home life as a single dad raising and cooking for three sons.

“I literally started building a Microsoft access application to do what I was describing earlier—I wanted my recipes to automatically know what I had to buy and where I could buy it. I didn’t want to have to think about it anymore—to just go to the store and execute,” Kinney says. “I would find myself in a rut, and going to the butcher counter was not necessarily the best way to get out of the rut. I have 7,000 tracks on my iTunes, and I thought, that’s what I need. Whenever you’re on iTunes, you’re two or three key strokes from finding anything you need on iTunes—you’re only a few keystrokes away from discovering what’s already in your repertoire. When you look at Kitchen Monki, it looks a lot like iTunes—so you’re always just a few keystrokes away from finding what you’re looking for.”

While Kitchen Monki has an archive of thousands of user-generated recipes to search … Next Page »

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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