PEOPLE CelebFood: Red Carpet Hit or Foodie Faux Pas?

When I first came across a new app PEOPLE CelebFood by Time Inc., the publishers of PEOPLE magazine, I was skeptical. This magazine is famous for paparazzi photos of celebrities and red carpet faux pas. If I want to know what’s happening with Brangelina, I consult PEOPLE. If I need an update on Kanye and Kim’s baby, I consult PEOPLE. If I’m looking for cooking inspiration, I consult PEOPLE?

I’m not a regular reader of the magazine, more of a closet reader — I’ll peruse the celebrity news during a pedicure or waiting in the doctor’s office. PEOPLE magazine is a guilty pleasure, just like a decadent slice of chocolate cake or cream laden fettuccine Alfredo. Maybe I judged too soon, maybe PEOPLE magazine and food are the perfect combination?

Keep reading to find out.

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Getting Started

These days, it’s impossible to separate celebrity and chef. You’ve got Food Network stars, Top Chef icons, movie star restaurateurs and musician cookbook authors. Food shows and magazines are the entertainment of our generation. PEOPLE has jumped in the pool with the launch of their new app and “Great Ideas Channel,” a section of their website that appears to be modeled after the Martha Stewart Living empire. The app promises to “bring you closer to your favorite celebrities as they share their personal recipes and the stories behind them!”

The app is beautifully designed, with mouth-watering food photos and the friendly faces of your favorite celebrities.

The app is beautifully designed, with mouth-watering food photos and the friendly faces of your favorite celebrities.

First impression: the app is beautifully designed. They’ve done a great job putting it all on one screen with mouth-watering food photos, friendly pics of celebrities looking fabulous and just the right amount of text to tempt you to delve in. The app is fresh, modern and fun. I spent a few seconds browsing the recipes before stumbling upon the prompt to sign in for a 10-day free trial.

Before signing up for a free trial, you can browse the celebrity recipe collections.

Before signing up for a free trial, you can browse the celebrity recipe collections.

I created an account to get access to all app content and noticed the app displayed a countdown of days remaining at the top of the screen, which is a nice feature. When the free trial ends the app costs $0.99/month or $9.99 for a year subscription. A new themed recipe collection is added to the app every week, containing about 6-8 dishes. It comes preloaded with over 200 recipes, and I like how PEOPLE has over delivered on the content. When they say, “new collections added every week,” I have a feeling it’s not actually new recipes, rather, they are just pulling from existing app content.

The Recipes

I discovered the Explore Recipes section, where all 200+ recipes can be filtered by celebrity name (alphabetical order), occasion, main ingredient, course, celebrity type (athlete, chef, movie star, country singer, etc.) or collection. The app is well organized and transparent with information, for example: the Icon/Celebrity recipe section displays a number next to each category to show how many recipes it contains. It’s nice to see 104 recipes come from celebrity chefs, with the rest sourced from athletes, country stars, movie stars, rock stars and TV stars.

The recipes section is well organized and allows you to filter recipes in a multitude of ways: by celebrity type, name, course, main ingredient, collection, etc.

The recipes section is well organized and allows you to filter recipes in a multitude of ways: by celebrity type, name, course, main ingredient, collection, etc.

It’s great to see a wide range of chefs, from April Bloomfield to Eric Ripert, Nigella Lawson to Top Chef Paul Qui. I like that it’s not just the over exposed Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay. I enjoyed browsing the celebs and found plenty of surprises, with recipes from Nigel Barker of Top Model fame, Paris Hilton, Sharon Osbourne, Justin Timberlake and Coolio. This app would be fantastic inspiration for an Oscars or Grammy night dinner party.

The app features an interesting mix of celebrities, from rapper Coolio to Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi.

The app features an interesting mix of celebrities, from rapper Coolio to Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi.

The app features a wide range of dishes: appetizers, cocktails, breakfast, dinner, desserts, etc. Recipes are simple, easy to execute, but still creative and interesting. Dishes are diverse and include a wide range of cuisines, from regional American favorites to Italian, Mexican, Asian, French and more. Overall the recipes are easy to read, with ingredients lists and steps displayed in a clean and organized fashion.

The designers obviously took great care to create an app that’s easy to cook with, making ingredients lists and steps clear, concise and easy to read.

The designers obviously took great care to create an app that’s easy to cook with, making ingredients lists and steps clear, concise and easy to read.

I did notice a many recipes seem to stop short in mid sentence or the text is partially erased, which is a big disappointment and must be addressed. It seems something has gone wrong displaying the web-based content in the app.

After all that work put into beautiful app design, it’s too bad recipe steps and ingredients aren’t displaying properly. Above you can see where text is erased and unreadable.

After all that work put into beautiful app design, it’s too bad recipe steps and ingredients aren’t displaying properly. Above you can see where text is erased and unreadable.

With incomplete recipes it’s little consolation that the app offers users the ability to share recipes via Email and Twitter, or to save dishes to the Favorites section and print recipes. Recipes also include related bonus articles, interviews and videos, plus suggestions of other recipes to try. All that beautiful functionality and hard work has gone to waste.

Conclusion

At first glance, PEOPLE CelebFood has all the ingredients for a great cooking app: gorgeous food photos, delicious recipes, attractive design and useful features. The weekly themed recipe collections deliver fresh and interesting content. A diverse array of cuisines and courses is sure to keep users interested. The celebrities are fun, unexpected and entertaining. A healthy dose of true chefs lends the app credibility as a cooking guide.

The app has two flaws, though. First, it’s unclear whether new content is actually uploaded weekly. As a subscriber, I would expect new recipes, but the wording in the iTunes app description doesn’t necessarily promise that. The second problem is an epic fail: incomplete recipe instructions and ingredients lists. Until this problem is fixed, I can’t recommend anyone pay to subscribe to this app. I would have given PEOPLE CelebFood a score of 9/10, but the recipe issues knock it down to 6/10. Trust is such an important thing when it comes to recipes, and if someone tries to make a recipe but doesn’t have all the right information, they won’t cook from the app again. It’s such a shame, and such an easy thing to fix.


Summary

PEOPLE CelebFood is a collection of recipes from celebrities (chefs, movie stars, athletes and musicians) plus entertaining video interviews and articles.

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