Every retailer of every type, whether it be home repair, bath accessories, clothing or even sporting goods, wants to sell food products - a proven way to build traffic and sales. Now, it seems that everyone wants to offer recipes, and why not? Recipes are among the most searched on the Internet and a key draw for magazines and television news and talk shows. Google has added a new “recipe view” tool and as a test, I typed in the word “recipes” on the search engine and in just 0.13 seconds it delivered 429,000,000 results!
Let's not fool ourselves, there aren't a half billion different recipes — but what there is, at least according to our recent SupermarketGuru Annual Consumer Panel Survey, is a desire and need for more flavor, excitement and tips to use in the kitchen. Many of the leading food brands have built easy-to-use recipe sites featuring their products and offering tools that make it easy to narrow a shopper's search based on time to prepare, number of ingredients, food allergies, food likes and dislikes, and some even based on the cost of ingredients.
There are social networking groups that focus on particular cuisines and allergy-free cooking; groups that build on each other's skills to create recipes that our junior chefs under 12 can make; and even those narrowly focused on all the foods and beverages one could prepare around a single main ingredient like coffee, tofu, hemp or chia.
I would like to offer up another idea that both supermarkets and brands should embrace — one that not only offers a solution to the need for recipes but also may well offer a solution to a growing societal problem: divorce!
Chef Michael Feker, restaurateur and proprietor of CMF's School of Culinary Magic, located in Wauwatosa, Wis., recently announced a new program concept based on getting couples cooking, because in his view, those that “Cook Together Stay Together.”
Is it true that couples that cook together stay together? Well, I don't think there are many scientific studies on the topic but according to the Centers for Disease Control almost half of all marriages end in divorce, so cooking with your spouse or partner is definitely worth a shot — it's a great way to bond, and learn new cooking skills — but as everyone who has ever worked in a foodservice establishment knows, it also teaches teamwork, problem solving, and can increase communication.
So here's my idea: Create recipes (and in-store cooking classes) that are written for two! Divide the chopping, grilling, baking, seasoning, stirring, sautéing and all the rest of the prep, cooking and serving into two categories — step-by-step for each spouse — the same way a composer writes music for individual instruments or a jazz session builds on each member's talents to create a masterpiece; the same way our best restaurants do for every meal.
Phil Lempert is contributing editor of Supermarket News and CEO of The Lempert Report and SupermarketGuru.com .