Start Forking: Open Source Inspiration Comes To Cooking & Recipes With Fork The Cookbook

Saikat Basu 01-05-2013

Start Forking: Open Source Inspiration Comes To Cooking & Recipes With Fork The Cookbook Fork The Cookbook LogoRecipes are not in short supply on the web. From the visual handholding on YouTube’s recipe channels 10 Mega-Popular YouTube Cooking Channels By Cuisine I didn’t realize I was following so many cooking channels until I saw Joshua’s list of great YouTube cooking channels to follow. I knew at least 5 of the 6 channels in his list so... Read More to cooking apps in your pocket, learning how to cook The 7 Best Online Cooking Guides for the Beginner Cook You can learn how to be a great cook. These cooking guides for the beginner cook are few of the best places to start. Read More has never been easier. The first stage of cooking is all about mixing ingredients together and hoping someone doesn’t throw up. If you pass that litmus test, it’s time to move on to the place where innovation begins. Traditional cooking websites give you a glut of directions to cook this dish or that, but hardly any of them foster experimentation. You are left to do that on your own at the risk of burning the skillet.


No more. Fork the Cookbook is an unusual take on the idea of a cooking application. It is the GitHub for recipes with “version control”. With Fork the Cookbook, it is all about the evolution of food – how you can adapt, change, modify, or tweak every time to come up with interesting variations. It makes the cooking (and sharing) experience a bit easier.

GitHub for Recipes

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We take a humbling view that humanity will be richer when we can learn from one another. Instead of wasting time, money and energy reinventing the wheel, innovate on existing recipes to make them even better. After all, you see farther by standing on the shoulders of Giants

Fork the Cookbook draws inspiration from an Open Source repository site like GitHub. GitHub is a collaborative project hosting platform where programmers share and modify code freely – a modus operandi that defines “forking”. Think of it as a social network for developers. So, just why are we talking about GitHub while discussing recipes?

It is because Fork the Cookbook uses the same spirit of sharing and collaboration to improve upon what we cook. The idea is that users can modify any recipe or one contributed by another member and create their own version. To ‘fork’ is a term borrowed from Open Source software development where you can take something original and work on the copy in your own way to create something new. Someone else can take your creation and further reinterpret it with their own ideas. So, in a sense the original creation keeps mutating and evolving.

Like GitHub, Fork the Cookbook is also your personal recipe scrapbook to keep track of your favorite recipes and any modifications you make to the recipes.


What Makes It Different From Other Cooking Websites?

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The moment you land on the homepage and go beyond it, you will appreciate the thought that has been put into the design. Unlike run-of-the-mill cooking sites, Fork the Cookbook is refreshingly minimal. It is NOT a social network for food lovers. It is simply about food and how you can innovate around it with your own mix of ingredients.

The developers say that the site is built around three simple actions – adding a recipe, editing a recipe, and forking a recipe.

Sign In and Say Yum to The Recipes!

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Signing up to the site is also different. You just give them an email ID to receive an alphanumeric code. Create a profile name. You can stay logged in or repeat the process when you next come to the site. The thoughtfully designed interface greets you with lip-smacking photos of food. Explore the recipes by clicking on the large photos with words that are a mouthful, like pretzel-crusted honey mustard chicken breasts and spaghetti amatriciana style with dry italiana sausage.

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The recipe page opens in full galore. As you can see, attention has been paid to the readability. The layout is crisp and the essential details are clearly displayed. You will not find step-by-step illustrations but what you will get are clear cut instructions. Quiet a few recipes have been contributed by food bloggers and so will have professional write-ups which you can read by clicking the ‘Write-up’ hyperlink.

Forking a Recipe

It’s what you do with a recipe that’s the interesting part. Forking is at the core of the site, so hit the pink button if you have some extra dash of ingredients to add to the original recipe. As shown in the screenshot below, Fork the Cookbook asks you to follow a simple syntax as you begin adding your own ingredients and modifying the dish to your taste. Oh, you can give the name your own spin too.


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Add a few more details (number of servings, time to cook, difficulty etc.) in an optional screen and fork the recipe. The recipe gets added to your personal notebook. You can embellish the recipe with a beautiful photo, and then share it with the wider world if you want.

Adding Your Own Recipe

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You can add your original recipes to your personal cookbook and allow others to fork it. Do note that forking does not require express permissions. Fork the Cookbook prefers you follow the basic syntax as explained in the steps.


There Is No One True Recipe

This is almost the catchphrase of Fork the Cookbook and one you can believe in. The web application is almost simple in the way it goes about things – you discover new recipes and also invent your own. As a specific recipe gets forked repeatedly, your personal cookbook could grow to teach you how to make many more variations of the recipe you started out with. The end result could be the perfect recipe you couldn’t have imagined.

Personally, I am interested to see how many variations I can spot for low-carb meals. What about you? Fork the Cookbook is a freshly served cooking application, but do you like the trajectory it is on?

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  1. GodSponge
    May 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    We've always made small changes to recipes we find online. Sometimes because we don't like a particular ingredient, or we just prefer sea salt instead of regular salt. This site seems like a great idea and a wonderful resource for beginners and seasoned veterans. I will definitely check it out.

    • Saikat Basu
      May 3, 2013 at 3:12 am

      Please do. Will be definitely interested in your feedback.

      • GodSponge
        May 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

        I am loving the site. The only thing I miss is being able to add a recipe to my cookbook without changing it. Since the random recipes on the page change, I have to print the recipe if I want to use it without editing. I understand the point is to change the recipes, but I like to make the original and then make changes.

        • Saikat Basu
          May 4, 2013 at 3:49 am

          You can fork it...change just the name of the recipe and add it. Though that would be against the spirit of the site.

        • Fork the Cookbook
          May 4, 2013 at 4:30 am

          Founder of Fork the Cookbook here. You can actually just fork a recipe, and then save it unchanged. It will be a new entry in your private cookbook :D

          You can then later go back and update it. In the future you will be able to see the changes/diffs you've made (it's a tough UX to figure out, this one)


        • Saikat Basu
          May 4, 2013 at 4:45 am

          Thanks for the prompt response. Hope you liked the review.

  2. macwitty
    May 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    My fist reaction was why. But now I think maybe this is the way - recipes are in a way "open source" by nature

    • Saikat Basu
      May 3, 2013 at 3:12 am

      Couldn't have put it any better myself. Generally, we see recipes as separate entities. We don't see the changes a specific recipe goes through. This site I think looks at that.