Chef Alton Brown on adapting the recipe to the social media age

Many of you may already be familiar with Alton Brown, the host of Good Eats and other Food Network TV programs. I love him because, like us, he’s a geek at heart, never missing a chance to explain the chemistry and history of cooking along with its technique. It turns out, though, that Brown is a geek in the tech sense as well.

In an interview with food blog Serious Eats, Brown gave his thoughts on how social media is changing the way the world approaches the rarefied art of recipe writing. Recipes used to immalleable creations, published in cookbooks and magazines or printed on index cards. But with the rise of the internet and social media, recipes are often adjusted, reformulated and repurposed within minutes of being published.

The recipe, Brown said, has become like open-source code. The programmers in this case are cooks and they’re constantly tweaking and improving the code and tossing it back to developer community. If you want an example just look to Food52, a crowdsourced cooking portal where any given recipe is posted by individuals, but then tinkered with by Food52’s community of cooks.

Brown said that trend shouldn’t just be accepted but embraced to create a new kind of digital recipe. “What if each recipe per se had three paths to completion, and you got to choose your path based on what kind of person you are and how you interact with things?” Brown asked. Apparently Brown has a project that will do just that in the works. I for one am very curious to see what he comes up with.