Publisher: Sutro Media
Publication Date: April 2013
Ever have a brain freeze while trying to choose a cookbook for yourself or your favorite cook? Of course you have! Cookbooks are hard to choose: you can’t pre-test them, they all look great, and there are a million of them. You need expert help. You need T. Susan Chang, the regular cookbook reviewer for the Boston Globe and NPR! On CookShelf, you’ll find Chang’s ratings and reviews for the best and the newest cookbooks (which aren’t always the same). You can hunt down cookbooks by skill level and giftworthiness. And you’ll be warned if there are impossible-to-find ingredients, eye-straining page designs, or recipes that require 4 days and a vacuum sealer.
Cooks&Books&Recipes Editors, on CookShelf:
We have something a bit different for you today. We’re not talking about a cookbook, or a recipe, or a restaurant. Instead, we’re introducing you to a new way to participate in our favorite activity: looking at cookbooks! If you’re a fan of Cooks&Books&Recipes, then you’re definitely a fan of cookbooks. You probably also have read some of the cookbook reviews written by T. Susan Chang, cookbook reviewer for the Boston Globe and NPR’s Kitchen Window column. Susan also blogs about cookbooks, cooking, and food over at her own website, Cookbooks for Dinner, and at Eat Your Books, the cookbook-indexing website. (Here’s my fan-girl inside tip: be sure not to ever miss Susan’s seasonal roundups of new cookbooks. You can thank me later.)
I have no idea how the woman does all of that (with a family too), but now Susan has added even more to her culinary mix: she has thrown her considerable writing and reviewing skills into an app. How and why? For a behind-the-scenes look at how this app came to be, read Susan’s own words at A Life of Spice.
What’s to love about CookShelf? First is the obvious: it’s on your mobile device. Wait, let me rephrase that: it’s a cookbook-rating system on your mobile device. Love! There are what seems like a zillion filters of reviewed cookbooks: Favorites, Just Added, Beard Awards, Grilling Books, Great for New Graduates, Cooking for Crowds — along with Diets/Method/Region/Tie-In (e.g., restaurant/chef), just to name a few. These can be further sorted by skill level or cookbook title. And of course they are all rated, according to skill, newness, gift-worthiness, and “keeper.”
My nit-picky complaints are that I would like to see an easier-to-find explanation of the numerical rankings (it’s in the About CookShelf section) and that I had a bit of a hard time getting around in the app, but I admit that the latter may be due to my need-to-improve app skills. Plus, I may have a hard time getting around because there is simpy SO MUCH info in this app. Each cookbook has not only the review by Susan (and links to full reviews elsewhere) but also notes about Sample Recipes Online (obviously, my favorite part of the entire app), Page Design, Recipe Speed, Recipe Style, Recipe Yield, Ingredients, Equipment, and Measurement — along with links for where to buy each cookbook. Oh, you can also add (and/or read) comments.
Trust us: if you love cookbooks, you’ll love this app. We’ve been loving it ever since we purchased the app several weeks ago, and now you can too — for free! Susan is offering three lucky readers of Cooks&Books&Recipes her gift to the cookbook lovers of the world.
Where to buy CookShelf: iTunes; Google Play
How to win CookShelf:
There are six ways to enter the giveaway, but it’s not necessary to do all six entries. Choose whichever one(s) you like, and you’ll be entered in the giveaway. The winners, to be randomly selected and notified by e-mail, must claim the giveaway within one week. Giveaway ends at midnight (EST) on Monday, August 12.
Disclosure: Cooks&Books&Recipes receives books/apps for possible review, though we make no promise that all will be featured on the site. We highlight only those products that we feel will interest our readers. For this giveaway, we bought the app for our own review. We received no monetary compensation for our review or giveaway.