Culination is a new start-up that aims to deliver the delicious, healthy meals that you and I crave to the home. Without breaking the bank or being painfully exhausting to prepare, Culination provides something that appeals to today’s average person with interactivity, easy-to-follow instructions, and the ability to pair up with an iPad, iPhone, or any Android device. Culination is reimagining the idea of a cookbook, not only with fun recipes and simple instructions, but by making it easier for all of us to prepare these meals on our own.
I had the chance to sit down with Culination’s co-founder Geoffrey Sechter this weekend, and he was able to answer a handful of questions that I threw at him. These are not your everyday questions, rather ones that try to explore the mindset of this particular start-up.
What is Culination?
Culination is an interactive elearning platform designed to help people feel more confident exploring food and beverages by bringing seasoned taste experts such as chefs and mixologists into people’s kitchens. Accessibility is one of the key values Culination delivers by approaching culinary education in a layered approach, using healthy recipes as a familiar pathway to introduce people to the fundamentals of cooking. Within each recipe, our goal is to provide everything a complete beginner needs to feel comfortable in the act of culinary creation from start to finish, including: step-by-step instructions, pictures of every step, easy reference points for ingredient portions and the necessary tools for each step, descriptions and substitutions for each ingredient and tool, and with how-to videos to illustrate techniques.
Another important concept of Culination is that of community, and making the experience of what it means to be a “Culinator” driven by the users as much as possible. We are taking a two-pronged approach as we develop Culination to give people the opportunity to define the platform: a request platform to ask taste experts to create content, where the requests with the most votes will be translated into lessons, as well as the ability for anyone to create and share recipes they’ve made. While we’re really excited about these two types of engagement, taking the role of being a steward of a community seriously means we’re always listening and will do our best to provide different community-focused experiences if that’s what our Culinators want.
What is the inspiration behind Culination?
Culination is the melding of the myriad passions and values of the founding team, but above everything else we are driven by the goal to increase accessibility to information. One thing we recognize is that the availability of information, which the spread of the Internet has accelerated at a tremendous rate, is not the same thing as accessibility. When it comes to food, more ingredients than ever before are available to the average person, but how accessible does dragon fruit or even a pomegranate feel compared to an apple or banana? True accessibility is about creating familiarity and confidence centered around availability, and all of us are really passionate about “making your kitchen a place of inspiration, not intimidation.”
What do you plan on accomplishing?
We plan on creating the most accessible online platform that can scale a complete novice in the kitchen to someone excited to invite their friends over for dinner in the shortest time possible. In addition, our goal is to create a resource that intermediate and advanced cooks can use to refine and expand their skills and creativity in the kitchen. We want to shift as many mindsets from “what am I going to eat tonight?” to “what do I get to make tonight?” to keep the creative spark alive in the kitchen, and to make cooking a fun experience for everyone.
Do the members of the site have any things that they’re excited to share with the world?
Breakfast tostadas are delicious! Besides that, we’re really excited to have the opportunity to build the foundation of the Culination community through our current Indiegogo campaign, and would be delighted for anyone interested in exploring food more to check out our campaign.
When creating Culination, did you have to tweak any ideas or start fresh?
Our approach to creating Culination has been designing and developing instruments for collecting feedback so our ears can be as close to what people want as possible. Almost everything that Culination is today was different at some point, which reflects our journey and focus on finding the right mediums to communicate our message most effectively. Specifically, our lesson framework has gone through almost 20 iterations (with several more planned) based on feedback we’ve been receiving. Initially, our lessons were video-driven supported by text and images, but what we found through user testing and research was that images were a better anchor to guide people through the process of following a recipe, with video as a supplement when more complex techniques arise.
What makes Culination new?
Culination takes people on a journey. We show you how to transform raw ingredients into something delicious—using a timeline-based approach, illustrating each step with visuals of the ingredients, and providing supporting information for those that want to dive deeper. Some cookbooks achieve this level of detail, but we haven’t seen anything that offers this level of interaction in a digital format.
Where can people reach you?
People can reach me on Twitter, @gsechter, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The entire team can be reached through Culination’s Twitter, @culinators, or at email@example.com—and we’re always happy to chat! Interacting with and learning from our community is what has gotten Culination to where it is, and will be what propels us into the future.
Culination is what web innovation should look like: the desire to do something new by creating new experiences without restricting them to the elite. We hope Culination flourishes, and we hope you’ll be able to enjoy what it brings in the coming weeks. You can sign up for an invitation on their website or on their Indiegogo page.