Cucumbertown is an online platform that brings together cooks and amateurs to share their recipes and partake in the joys of cooking
Ever heard of a Sunflower egg? Or ‘death by garlic?’ or the African filter coffee? If the answer is no, log on to www.cucumbertown.com. The website is a library of mouth-watering recipes written by foodies from different parts of the world. From a simple devilled egg to the Kozunak, a traditional Bulgarian Easter bread, the website will take you on an interesting recipe trail spanning continents.
An online platform for cooks and amateurs to share their recipes and genuine love for food, the website creates a network of people to participate in the joys of cooking. “It gives an online identity to people to showcase their dishes,” says Cherian Thomas, one of the founders of the project. “It is where you want to go to every morning and ask what can I cook with an egg, parsley, French bread and oregano?” says Cherian, who hails from Kollam.
Rustle up a meal
Cucumbertown breaks down the whole process of cooking into simple denominators and is an ideal stop for people to rustle up a delicious meal. The website has divided recipes based on their complexity and the time needed to cook it. While there are salads, entrees, elaborate main courses and desserts, the website devotes equal importance to Indian, American, Chinese, European and Mexican cuisines. Special sections have been devoted to Kerala and Tamil cuisines, too. You can ‘curate’ your own recipes too in a cookbook and your friends can share it.
The idea of starting a portal exclusively for recipe publishing had always been at the back of Cherian’s mind, he says. An engineer based in Bangalore and a former employee of Zynga, Cherian is passionate about food and he kept recording his thoughts on cooking and publishing systematically. Cherian e-mailed Chris Luscher, partner of Information Architects, one of the leading design firms in the world, based in Zurich. Luckily for him, Chris happened to share his passion in cooking and publishing and agreed to co-ordinate with him.
Soon, Cherian brought on board his friend and junior at Model Engineering College, Thrikkakara, Arun Prabhakar, for the programming part of the website. “Things just began happening quickly,” says Cherian, when he started scouting for one more designer to work on the website. He contacted Dan Hauk, a leading American designer, who has done several themes on Tumblr, and managed to rope him in.
As soon as the team of four founders was in place, the big question popped up. Funding? Help came in the form of a friend of Cherian’s, who introduced him to venture capitalists in the Silicon Valley. Meetings followed (Cherian met 12 investors) and by the end of one week in the U.S., Cherian could raise $ 300,000, sufficient to get the project running.
Cucumbertown was launched in October, 2012, and currently, it is a “public beta” with members writing recipes and contributing to others’ recipes, too. Along the lines of Wikipedia, the recipes can be edited by users. The aim of the founders is to make it a growing community spread across the world.
“Apart from just showcasing their work, contributors can interact with the community, build their network and enrich their recipes, too,” says Arun, who admits he was a reluctant cook before joining Cucumbertown. But, now, he contributes a recipe or two.
Unlike other recipe websites or blogs dedicated to recipes, which could be cumbersome for someone who is not very tech-savvy (as it requires the user to write, format and attach pictures), Cucumbertown simplifies the process, Cherian claims. One could write a recipe in less than five minutes, take a picture (even on a camera phone) and then upload it.
Cherian and Arun will be meeting their co-founders Chris and Dan for the first time at Cucumbertown’s office at Mountainview in California soon.
Cucumbertown will be open to everyone by the end of November. However, if you are dying to join them, you could just send them a love letter.