Yahoo Courts Foodies

New niche-interest site Yahoo! Food launched yesterday amid media buzz. Rightly so, as the site boasts content from big names and major mags: Yahoo! has partnered with MarStew, who shows up right on the homepage with Thanksgiving tips, and with others including Rach, Food & Wine, and Allrecipes. Recipes are the site’s bread and butter—Yahoo! Media cooked up the idea partly in response to the fact that around 4 p.m. every day, its search engine was bombarded with queries for the terms “chicken” and “recipe”—but Yahoo! Food also features original material, including a multicity restaurant-listings section and Q&As with celebs (Morgan Freeman is up now).

The organization of the recipes is eminently user-friendly, with tags right on the main recipe page allowing users to search by type of cuisine (Indian, German, etc.), health requirements (dairy free, high fiber), and even “taste & texture” (with fun categories like “buttery,” “light and airy,” and “velvety“). These kinds of searches are a bit less intuitive on sites like Epicurious that require users to go to an advanced search page. Yahoo! Food will also ostensibly include images of each dish (though now there are only a few, with lots of placeholder drawings), which Epicurious doesn’t do (opting instead for text-only recipes).

Still, this new Yahoo! has quite a few kinks to work out, and it remains to be seen whether it can attract the hard-core foodophiles that flock to sites like Chowhound and eGullet. (Full disclosure: Chowhound and CHOW are tight— duh.) Take the restaurant-review section: As Time rightly notes, that department is way off-kilter, naming a hole-in-the-wall (though supposedly good) Vietnamese place as its top-rated Los Angeles restaurant (based on just one review) and listing Starbucks in the top five results for the writer’s neighborhood search. (I can also vouch that its New York and San Francisco guides are just as random and chain heavy.)

Also in need of some tweaking is the “Still Hungry?” section at the bottom of each recipe, which offers “extras” like this one from Rachael Ray’s Pepitapapas recipe: “Prepare to impress with this deceptively easy dessert.” Umm, OK, that was supposed to have satisfied my hunger for knowledge? Also, there’s no real intro to each recipe. When you see a list of recipes in a given category, there are thumbnail intros like this one: “The traditional Portuguese kale and potato soup inspired this delicious country-style dish. It’s especially welcome in the winter months when kale is at its … MORE”. But you don’t actually end up seeing “more” when you click—it’s just straight into the recipe.

As the site builds its database of recipes, I have a feeling it will become one of my go-tos for inspiration and meal planning. But I think I’ll stick to other sites for my restaurant recs and food learnin’.