By Barbara L. Vergetis Lundin, Assistant Editor
There are a lot of mobile apps that claim to be for chefs, but look a little closer and most of them are geared more for the home cook or culinary enthusiast, not the professionals. Here, we round up some of the best apps for the industry.
Locavore: With the trend toward locally farmed and sourced food making its mark across the country, Locavore is a sustainable chef’s dream.
Described as seasonal, local, and free, the app utilizes GPS technology to locate nearby farms and farmers markets to determine exactly what is in season and available near you. The app displays nearly 250 types of produce that is in season from Brussels sprouts to Asian pears to guava, as well as what is coming into season, and links to related recipes like seitan stew. Once you’ve discovered this treasure trove of local, seasonal food, and cooked up your finest recipes, there is a link to share your finds with your Facebook network.
Named as one of Time’s top 10 iPhone apps, Locavore is available for Apple and Android.
ChefRef: ChefRef is a reference app designed specifically for professional chefs.
Developed by Sysco Corporation, the app follows industry trends and news, features thousands of special recipes, provides how-to videos crafted to help food-service operators add to the bottom line of their business, and offers produce storage and ripening guides.
Available on Apple and Android, one five-star review states, “I enjoy how they keep up on what's trending, so I can improve my menu.”
ChefRef's recipes are created and tested by Sysco's in-house professional chefs, suppliers, industry boards, and industry councils, according to the company. The voice search feature makes it convenient to find these recipes without typing a thing.
ChefRef spans social media, allowing users to share across Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter, and news articles can be shared via email.
Paprika Recipe Manager: Beyond being a simple recipe manager, the app is more of a one-stop shop for professional chefs, featuring ingredient scaling and grocery list, as well as an area for personalized notes.
The application features web importing of recipes from any website; smart grocery lists sorted by aisle and similar ingredients; interactive recipes that allow you to highlight directions and cross off ingredients; automatic ingredient scaling; and simple switching between multiple recipes.
Paprika recently released an upgrade to its web browser that makes it easier to save recipes from any website using a natural language processing engine to automatically recognize any recipe written in plain English. The upgrade eliminates the manual process of contacting support to add recipes from certain websites, reducing it to nothing more than a simple “save.”
Paprika is available for desktop, iOS and Android.
FoodKeeper: Compliments of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), FoodKeeper helps industry professionals address a critical issue: food waste. Launched in April 2015, FoodKeeper was a byproduct of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, which called upon organizations and businesses across the industry, including farms, agricultural processors, food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, universities, schools, and local governments to join the fight against food waste.
At the consumer and retail levels, 36 pounds of food per person in the United States goes to waste each month, according to the USDA, equaling billions of pounds of food waste every year. The application, developed by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food Marketing Institute, and Cornell University, provides valuable food and beverage storage information to extend shelf life to reduce the amount of food going to landfills and minimizing lost resources from producing food that doesn’t get eaten, thereby reducing the environmental impact of wasted food.
Featuring product pages for more than 400 foods with storage timeframes for the pantry, refrigerator and freezer, the application integrates a calendar feature, allowing users to enter the purchase date and receive notifications when items are reaching their storage limit. A virtual representative offers 24/7 advice on products that are not readily available in the app.
Available on Android and Apple, FoodKeeper also provides information on foodborne illnesses, safe food handling, and preparation.
Canvas: Inefficient, manual paper processes can cost your establishment in terms of both customers and revenue. This mobile platform is a solution for those food-service operations that are drowning in paperwork.
From food and beverage inventories to food safety inspections and everything in between, Canvas eliminates the paperwork with customizable food service apps.
Inventory management can often be overwhelming, but Canvas’ inventory application is designed to help restaurant managers involved in inventory tracking to help with inventory control and ordering. The app can be integrated with inventory management software like barcode scanning. With a bar code scanner, you can add a database to the app to speed inventories.
For the back of the house, the Kitchen Brains mobile app helps improve sanitation and compliance, making it easier to pass routine inspections. For the bar and restaurant, various checklist apps allow users to complete basic checklists like opening, closing, weekly, and shift change tasks. The applications create uploadable PDFs that rest in the cloud where managers or other associates have real-time, immediate access to them.
Although the Canvas app store has several thousand customize apps, an app builder toolkit enables users to quickly build mobile apps.