Are recipes dead? Tyler Florence thinks so

Tyler FlorenceWhile attending the Smart Kitchen Summit in Seattle, celebrity chef Tyler Florence made a bold declaration: recipes are dead. Not only did he say that, he proclaimed that our entire approach to making food, from grocery shopping to ingredient preparation to cooking, is outdated. 

“Recipes served a purpose back in the day, but inflexible recipes don’t work with the modern lifestyle anymore – they’re too long, complicated, and require too much pre-planning,” says Florence. “Today’s recipe content is one dimensional – it doesn’t know who I am, my family’s nutrition needs and likes/dislikes, the food I have in my fridge, or the appliances I have in my home.” The chef goes on to say cookbooks average about 125 recipes (it’s actually more than that), but that most cooks only use about five of these, and the recipes are not created for the modern, busy person.

We beg to differ. Several recent cookbooks are perfect for the “modern, busy person” including The Simple Kitchen: Quick and Easy Recipes Bursting with FlavorHalf Hour HeroIndian Instant Pot Cooking: Traditional Indian Dishes Made Easy & Fast, and 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food. That is just a small sampling from the last two months, and doesn’t even include slow cooker books, where recipes are also easy if not fast.

Tyler’s reason for disparaging cookbooks and recipes may be that he is hawking a product labeled as an “alternative” to traditional methods:  Innit’s Connected Food Platform, “a high-tech platform that eschews classic recipes in favor of a computer-based integrated hub where food purchases and preferences are tracked and recipes are customized based on nutritional needs and what ingredients you should cook before they go bad in your fridge.” 

Or, you know, he could use Eat Your Books to find recipes that use the ingredients he has on hand, and find a recipe that actually works instead of relying on an algorithm that doesn’t take into account flavor affinities, preferred cooking methods, or other nuances. 

Plus EYB allows users to make notes on what works or doesn’t, so that the next time they face the situation of expiring ingredients, they are armed with a more wholesome understanding of how to use them in a dish that really works for them and their families. Recipes are not dead, Mr. Florence, in fact they’ve never been more healthy and vibrant. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to use EYB to find the perfect recipe for the fennel that’s aging in my crisper. 

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  • lsgourmet  on  October 13, 2017

    I respect his opinion but I think he just isn't connecting with people who actually cook in their own homes without the money to blow on eating out, taking out, or food kit services. The rest of us have to feed families after we come home from work and we get to do it at least six nights a week. We also make breakfasts, often lunch and then we entertain friends and family for holidays and events. I've been doing it for years and I still read recipes for new ideas because cooking is an ever changing art. I rarely follow a recipe exactly, I tweak them to meet my flavor preferences, that's where the art of cooking comes in to the equation, I read recipes to take advantage of seasonal products. I read recipes to move out of my food comfort zone and explore other cuisines. I read cookbooks for the sheer pleasure of reading them .,.. but I also read them to plan weekly meals that will fit into my food budget as well as my time schedule. Cookbooks and recipes are far from dead. Turning meal planning over to a computer strikes me as being as creative as using a paint by numbers kit .

  • Jane  on  October 14, 2017

    I find his comments amusing coming from someone who has published 9 cookbooks, though nothing new for 3 years. I assume he never cooked from his own books or he would know that recipes are not rigid, inflexible commands. Someone in your family doesn't like a herb, you sub another or you like your cookies softer than the recipe timing, you bake them for less time. I think you are spot on that his stance is all about promoting his new product (which I predict will quietly disappear within a year).

  • ellabee  on  October 14, 2017

    That product also sounds like many another modern "convenience" in giving as much if not more personal information to the company that makes it than it offers in value to the user.

  • gracieanne  on  October 15, 2017

    I follow an Australian cooking group..they have every piece of equipment ever made and I have heard them mention this system. Their kitchens are not like mine because their stoves and ovens play a different role. They refer to cooking in the new way…I do understand what he is addressing and although it does not apply to me I see who it might appeal to. For those of us who love to cook and enjoy the process and the techniques as much as the food it will be hard to give up our cookbooks but who knows what the next generation will love.

  • manycookbooks  on  October 16, 2017

    Truthfully, my impression of Tyler Florence is that he is a food snob! Long live recipes and cookbooks!

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