Expert Interview Series: Nicky Barber of SideChef, One of the Newest Virtual Cooking Accessories

Nicky Barber is the director of content at SideChef, and is also a recipe developer, food stylist, and photographer. We recently sat down with Nicky to hear more about SideChef and learn some basics about cooking tasty dishes using...

Cooking tasty dishes

Nicky Barber is the director of content at SideChef, and is also a recipe developer, food stylist, and photographer. We recently sat down with Nicky to hear more about SideChef and learn some basics about cooking tasty dishes using recipes and videos.

Why is SideChef better than other cooking apps?

SideChef includes step-by-step cook mode, which allows users to follow recipes every step of the way, and built-in timers are included. Voice commands make hands-free cooking possible, and we also have instructional videos for various basics like knife skills and ingredients prep. Our content is incredibly rich, updated on a daily basis, and includes ingredient wikis. We're also moving into the smart kitchen space by expanding our relationships with well-known and up-and-coming smart kitchen hardware partners.

Where do the recipes on SideChef come from?

The majority of the recipes on the app come from our content partners, which includes food bloggers and brands. These recipes appear under each content partner's profile. We're creating our own recipes under the SideChef profile, and we also assist brands in creating recipes for the app. We've found that there is a demand for custom and smart recipe content, which is a space that we definitely see ourselves moving into.

Since this app obviously caters to young adults, could you tell us why you think Millennials sometimes shy away from cooking complex dishes or meals?

I think a big factor here is time. People don't really have time to cook complex dishes anymore. Recipes that only require a few steps and no more than 30 minutes to make are definitely amongst the most popular on the app. Another big factor is the cost of ingredients. With food costs on the rise, the average Millennial can't afford to make a dish that requires a full-stocked spice cabinet and 25 other ingredients. Knowledge also greatly impacts this. If you don't have a good foundation of basic recipes to build on, you're never going to have the confidence to advance in the kitchen. SideChef is providing this knowledge to users through classic recipes and how-to videos and tutorials within the app.

What do you think is the most unique recipe collection on SideChef?

We have an incredible amount of diverse collections on the app. One that definitely stands out is our "Whiskey Food Pairings" Collection, where you'll find a great list of recipes that include ingredients like chocolate, caramel, bacon, and strong cheese, all of which pair really well with whiskey. Food and alcohol pairing is incredibly popular but often not understood enough, so this is a great starting point for people interested in that.

If someone were to say to you, "I don't really like cooking videos, because my dishes never look like the food in the videos, which discourages me," how might you respond?

There's definitely a fine line between enticing people with amazing videos and photography and intimidating them with food that might not necessarily come out looking as fabulous as it would if they cooked it themselves. A big part of my job is to obviously make the recipes I create look gorgeous, but I also focus on taste as well. There is a large amount of food content out there that looks incredible, but I openly question how good it tastes purely because there is such a huge focus on how good things look.

My suggestion is to have faith in your cooking, and if it doesn't look like it comes straight off of a magazine cover, that's fine. Get food to taste amazing first, and then you can practice making it look just as good.

What are some of the most popular recipes on SideChef?

Again, there are so many to choose from! We're constantly adding new recipes to the app, but are finding that anything with chicken, grilled cheese, the classics, and any recipes that are quick and easy are generally more popular. To name a few, our "Ombre Margherita Pizza" and "Classic Hollandaise" recipes are firm favorites amongst users, as well as Lady and Pups' "15-Second Creamy Scrambled Eggs," and 30 Pounds of Apples' "General Tso's Chicken."

Though it's true that the thousands of SideChef recipes vary widely, could you tell us which utensils, tools, and/or items should be in every SideChef chef's kitchen?

First things first, you need good knives. The majority of accidents involving knives in the kitchen usually aren't because you don't know how to use them correctly; it's because you're using the wrong knives! The very least you should have is a chef's knife, a small paring knife, and a serrated bread knife.

Next up, you should have a skillet which can be used both on the stove-top and in the oven, and then a set of pots which can also be used in both places as well. Without these, I wouldn't be able to do anything in my kitchen, so I definitely think these are the very basic things that every SideChef should have.

We have loads of content on the app that delves deeper into this subject, giving users far greater detail on things like choosing the right knife, how to use it, etc.

Tell us about CHiP™. Why is it a better way to make cookies?

CHiP™ is SideChef's first smart kitchen appliance that bakes perfect gourmet cookies in under 10 minutes. We're currently running a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds that will bring him to life.

We created CHiP™ in order to make baking easier for everyone, starting with cookies. He's able to sense internal temperatures of items inside of the oven, which allows for perfectly baked cookies that match your preferences. If you choose to use our Gourmet Cookie Dough, all you would need to do is scan and bake - and there's absolutely no prep or clean-up involved. You can also use your own homemade dough as CHiP™ has a manual mode which can be customized and saved for future baking.

CHiP™ will also have his own app, which will include cookie recipes for dough you can make at home and bake with his help. All our dough ingredients and packaging will be responsibly sourced and environmentally-friendly.

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