As you know, I love to cook for and with my family, and enjoy the process of creating healthy and inspiring dishes. Recently, we initiated family cook night, a night when my son chooses the recipe (from our kiddie cookbook), and as a family we slave away in the kitchen together to create a masterpiece. Well that might be a bit dramatic, but you get the idea! By having kids take ownership in the food process, whether it is cooking, picking out the recipes, or as simple as going grocery shopping with you, it gives them a since of responsibly and teaches them early the importance of health and home cooked meals. This is a skill they will carry with them into adulthood, and creates a healthy attitude about food in general, something I feel is so essential. Kids need to be part of the kitchen, not banded from it.
So with that being said, I came across this Kickstarter project, via twitter, that I believe fits in perfectly with family cooking. It is basically a fully illustrated version of a recipe, very visual, and perfect for family cook nights. If you would like to know more about this GULA initiative please read the following Q&A, and if you feel inspired don't forget to donate to get this project to get off the ground and rolling. Thank you!
Q: What exactly is GULA?
A: GULA is an initiative that began three years ago as an idea in the mind of founder Benjamin Funk to redesign the classic text recipe into a format that is illustrated, graphical, and visually appealing. The concept was to redesign the recipe and integrate it into the kitchens of amateur and seasoned chefs from around the globe to promote cooking at home in a new, exciting way. GULA is both a latin word meaning gluttony (one of the seven deadly sins!) and a Malay word meaning sugar!
Q: What is Kickstarter?
A: Kickstarter is a website that acts as a platform to fund creative projects from around the world. Groups with interesting ideas, concepts, and products in creative areas such as art, dance, photography, design, technology, and food develop a polished campaign for their project and turn to Kickstarter to make it visible for everyone. The project founder chooses a funding goal to be reached a month after the starting date - if that goal is reached the founder receives payment from all the "backers" to carry out the project! The "backers" receive rewards from the project founders for their pledge, which in many cases are pre-orders of products, exclusive behind the scenes development updates, and thank you acknowledgment in their final piece of work.
Q: What is GULA's Kickstarter all about?
A: Have you checked out our video on our Kickstarter page! The first step in GULA's overall initiative to transform the way people view cooking at home is to create a physical recipe cookbook using the illustrated graphical format that we've developed. We have set our funding goal at $8,500 and have already raised $4,500 in the first ten days. We have reward levels that allow backers to receive a final printed and signed copy of the cookbook, opportunities to include their own recipe in the cookbook, and many more. We want this cookbook to be a collaboration between all the backers of the project and us! The $8,500 we hope to raise will pay for the printing and shipping costs for this first run of cookbooks as well as the graphic design costs to create the cookbook.
Q: Where did this idea come from?
A: As a kid, my dad was the one spending the most time in the kitchen making incredible dishes for my family. I always enjoyed helping prepare dinner and I found it really fun to learn many basic cooking techniques. As I grew up, I tended to cook little bits here and there and learned to make a few meals that I enjoyed, but I was by no means a pro. In the summers while I attended Stanford, I found myself in situations in which I needed to cook. I didn't like following the text recipes from many of the online recipe sites because I felt like I couldn't understand the big picture of how a dish was put together. One afternoon the concept of an illustrated, graphical recipe just popped into my head. Rather than thinking "hmm, that might be cool...", from the very beginning I knew that the idea could have real benefits and so I began preparations to actually make a difference. Three years later, I've graduated from Stanford and have found the time to pursue this passion - the first step is our Kickstarter campaign.
Q: What makes the GULA recipe format better than the classic text recipe?
A: For time's sake, we will give three answers to this question - you'll have to tune into our Kickstarter video updates to hear many more.
First, the GULA format is attractive because it really captures the way that society has evolved over the last decade. Today, people are exposed to a "visual world" - full of pictures, advertisements, and graphics. We are taught in school to learn with our eyes, present what we've discovered in pictures and slides, and share what we see. The illustrated recipe is perfect for today's world because it captures what we are exposed to every day. For this reason, visual concepts have become more easily interpreted and understood and the graphic recipe makes sense as an everyday tool in today's world.
Second, the format allows for a "language independent" experience that draws on only a few cooking words to understand exactly how to prepare the dish. All the ingredients are illustrated and easily recognizable and arrows make it clear at which stage different ingredients get added together. A tomato looks like a tomato no matter which language is most familiar. This opens a realm of possibility for cross-cultural exposure to recipes and dishes that one might never encounter due to a language barrier that the written text recipe creates. We are very excited about this possibility!
Third, the GULA format can act as a visual teaching tool for younger children that enjoy cooking with their parents, but are not yet at a stage to understand the text recipe. But, even further, the GULA recipe can act as a visual teaching tool for mentally impaired individuals and those with autism and other disorders that make reading and other tasks difficult. Visual cues can be the solution. The GULA recipe could even help high functioning autistic adults live more independently and give them an opportunity to learn to cook for themselves. We think this is truly remarkable that such a simple design could one day make such a strong impact on the lives of others.
Q: What does the future look like for GULA?
A: This Kickstarter is just the beginning to our vision to reinvent the recipe and change the way people view cooking at home. But, we need to make sure we achieve the funding we've requested before looking too far forward. We need your help! On the horizon are mobile applications for the iPad and Android that will feature our recipe format in a revolutionary hands-off design. We also hope to develop a software package capable of instantly creating our illustrated graphical recipe from any existing text recipe in an effort to seamlessly transform the thousands and thousands of recipes that already exist. Beyond this are even more futuristic plans that could one day become a reality - so long as technology can catch up with our dreamy ideas!
If you are interested in backing this project be sure to check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/gularecipe and on twitter @gularecipe. And let all your foodie friends know as well. Thank you!