iChef starts out strongly, but fails to execute, leaving a impressively large online recipe catalog trapped in a confusing, cluttered and hard to navigate site. Though there are countless recipes of all cuisines and ingredients for cooks of all skill levels and time constraints, finding them can prove difficult with helpful resources proving even harder to find.
Recipe Archive and Organization
Though there are dozens of recipe categories to choose from and, at first glance, they appear to be neatly organized, recipe searches are neither intuitive nor simple and often require several attempts with the search engine or a second helping of patience to help you search through the results page by page.
Like most online recipe and entertaining sites, iChef offers both exotic and everyday recipes for cooks, aficionados and food lovers of all calibers. However, iChef lacks contemporaneous reporting on food trends, advanced resources for meal planning and presentation, restaurant and bar listings and reviews and other features essential to culinary appeal. Worse, many of the recipes and features iChef does list are external links that actually direct you outside the site, quite a faux pas for those accustomed to one-stop shopping.
Aside from the member forums, iChef offers little in the way of a community, unlike Epicurious and Chow which have set a new standard. Worse, the forums themselves seem to have been largely abandoned, with little activity taking place the last year. Though there is likely to be forum topics that might be of assistance, finding them and dusting them off could prove difficult.
Aside from recipes, iChef supplies little in the way of articles, how-to guides or tutorials. There are a handful of videos, recipe cartoons, recipe tips & hints and even some podcasts. But, for the most part, aside from the typically-brief recipe instructions, you???re on your own.
With no site map or FAQ section, technical issues can be difficult to resolve. iChef does, however, offer assistance through its webmaster???s email address.
iChef proves that a recipe is only as good as its ingredients. Though it has an impressive recipe listing, the other essential ingredients, such as a participation-oriented community, culinary appeal, resources and technical support are painfully absent. Though iChef still stands head and shoulders over countless other online recipe and entertaining sites, its relative strengths and weaknesses only further demonstrate the supremacy of sites like Epicurious, Chow and Food & Wine.