Posted by: sharonlis768 | September 26, 2007

A tasty virtual community

My experience with virtual communities has been limited, but I have participated some on a website called “Epicurious–for people who love to eat.”  At Epicurious.com people who love to cook can find great recipes, mostly ones that have appeared in Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines.  (This site is one of CondeNet’s lifestyle-oriented websites based on some of Conde Nast’s magazines.)  What I like most about this website is that fellow cooks give reviews of recipes on the website that they have tried.  The shared comments can turn out to be as important as the original recipe.  If a recipe has a 4-fork rating, you can trust that it will be pretty good.  Over the years, I have added some comments as I tried some of the recipes.   But truthfully, I’ve never gotten overly involved in this website.  Now that I’ve looked at it more closely, I see that there are forums for chatting on all kinds of food/cooking/beverage/restaurant topics.  I’ve discovered that there is an epicurious blog.  I found a great discussion on recipes in the current issues of Bon Appetit and Gourmet.  I think I’ve made a dangerous discovery—this website will be calling when unfortunately I don’t have a lot of free time to read and participate.

One thing that really struck me as I look at Epicurious now, is how helpful a site like this can be to the originators of the content.  In my previous career, I was in the food profession and developed recipes for many Chicago food companies.  These recipes appeared in print ads, on product labels, and in cookbooks.  Rarely was I able to get any feedback from consumers who had made them.  I know that the food professionals in the test kitchens of Bon Appetit and Gourmet are getting a lot of practical information from the virtual community on Epicurious.  As for the social aspect of this community–I will have to get more involved during the semester to see how I feel about that. 

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