Spice Up Your Cooking Online

20081217One of the most popular Christmas gifts is the cookbook. But are recipes really that great?

I have dozens on my shelf that I’ve thumbed through and looked at the pictures, but most are intimidating when it comes to methods and technique. And that’s the flaw with cookbooks, according to Joe Girard, CEO of Vancouver’s online instructional cooking site, Rouxbe.com.

“In professional cooking schools they don’t even teach recipes,” explains Joe. “They teach technique and skill and you use recipes to practice your technique and skill.”

Joe Girard has spent his entire adult life in the food business, working in restaurants, hotels and catering. Before his adventures in the online world, Joe and his partner, Dawn Thomas, ran a catering truck on movie sets. The contacts made over those 5 years have helped to shape the look of the Rouxbe videos.

The production of Rouxbe really sets it apart from other places to learn about cooking. The videos are absolutely beautiful and crisp and shot using HD optimized for the web. The camera movement is minimal and shots are tight to help you learn exactly what you need to do to master techniques.

Imagine going to Google and looking for a gnocchi recipe. More than 500 000 will populate the search result. But if you know how to make gnocchi, and you know why gnocchi is made that way, then you can improvise, ad lib and create new relationships between ingredients.

“[With Rouxbe] they’re not just learning a recipe, they’re learning a skill,” says Girard.

That’s the concept behind the cooking school at Rouxbe, a curriculum that was created in partnership with the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver.

The cooking school portion of Rouxbe is a subscription at $99 for a year, or $199 for a lifetime and provides access to a course that would normally cost upwards of $7 500.

In this wireless world its easier to bring your MacBook to the kithcen counter to play video recipes and techniques while you cook than it is to thumb through lessons in a cookbook.

People in more than 140 countries are accessing the site and returning because they’re successful.

Joe has found that most of his visitors, as you’d expect, were fans of cooking, cookbooks and food shows but never had consistent results. Over the past two years, Rouxbe‘s video recipes have received a 96% success rate from the community a reason people keep coming back to learn more.

While the nearly 1 000 videos at Rouxbe may sound impressive, when compared to other recipe sites on the web, Rouxbe just skims the surface.

“We’ll never be an Epicurious or an AllRecipes,” says Joe. “Because we don’t believe those sites are helping anyone. We teach people how to cook instead of following recipes.”


Joining Rouxbe will help you better feed yourself, and it will help you feed the world as well. Rouxbe for Life is the site’s charity arm that has pledged 15% of revenues to the World Food Program. Joe Girard is proud of the more than 63 000 children users of the site have fed through the program this year alone.

Still dont know what to ask Santa to bring next week? Why not get him to fulfill a dream? Local site DreamBank.org will let you politely ask for money to learn cooking in Tuscany, instead of ending up with another cookbook from Emeril. The site collects dream donations for you, letting all the gift givers pool small resources into making one big dream come true.

They may call it social media, but those who visit the web are less likely to spend time with real people in real life, according to Statistics Canada. “Canadians who spend more than one hour online per day spend, on average, nearly two hours more time alone than Internet non-users,” the study says. However the defenders will still call what they do “social” since the survey found nearly half of web time is spent emailing or chatting with others.

Time to polish the keyboard and dust the crumbs off the mouse pad, as award season for the blog crew has hit full storm. The long drawn out Canadian Blog Awards are finally announcing winners with a few names released each day. No locals have hit the top nationally, but MegFowler.com, Noise to Signal and Kitsilano.ca have all been hailed near the top of their respective classes.

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on December 17, 2008.



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  1. […] Spice up your cooking technique – December 17, 2008 (Cyberbuzz column in 24hrs) […]

  2. December 18, 2008

    Buzz thanks for the mention! We’ll look out for the culinary dreams. I’m getting hungry just thinking about them… Have a great holiday!

  3. […] Spice up your cooking technique – December 17, 2008 (Cyberbuzz column in 24hrs) […]

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