Cookery shows on the television have never been more popular, nor more populous for that matter. Celebrity chefs dominate the viewing schedules and best-seller lists alike, so surely anyone who wants to cook like a top chef has every opportunity to do so already. Why then, you might wonder, would you need an app for that? It's a good question and one that is answered by the Great British Chefs app in full. Take 12 great chefs with 15 Michelin stars between them, ask each of them to produce three complete menus worthy of their restaurants, and transfer these to the iPad (and iPhone) complete with the most beautiful photography, step-by-step recipe instructions and helpful hints and tips along the way.
You are introduced to each chef through a biography page and a video which explains their cooking style and thought process, and can select your dishes by choosing a menu from a specific chef, a meal type or by searching for a particular ingredient if you prefer. Whatever you choose you end up with some very high class photography illustrating what the dish looks like when prepared by a Michelin star chef (don't expect your end result to look anything like this though, unless you are an aspiring Masterchef contestant) and step-by-step cooking instructions. The recipe will also be graded according to difficulty, and there are a great many which fall into the complex category and these are best left to the more accomplished home cook rather than rank amateur.
Whether you want to stun your family with some stuffed tulips or maybe a bubblegum panna cotta, impress the boss with your Fisherman's Friend meringue and some braised pig's trotter croutons, or just knock up a quick treat of chocolate and olive oil truffles with red pepper and raspberry jelly and Cornish sea salt it's all here to satisfy the foodie in you.
Being an app you get a bunch of extras such as the ability to create a shopping list for the ingredients you need, video hints on cooking techniques such as preparing an artichoke or opening a clam, a cooking timer, a notebook to add your own comments and maybe even improve upon the recipe by customising it to your taste, and the ability to share recipes on Facebook and Twitter or by email. You can even use a voice control function so as not to get your iOS device mucky. Nice! The iPad is pretty perfectly suited to the kitchen with this app turning it into a great interactive cookbook. The iPhone, it has to be said, less so. Both suffer from one thing though, and that's a lack of video being put to the best use.
Sure, it's nice to meet the chefs as it were, and the handful of video cookery hints for difficult bits of recipes are welcome, but this is a cookbook at the end of the day and what I'd really have liked was video showing the chefs actually cooking the recipe. This is especially true of some of the more complex dishes where textual instruction just isn't really enough and a 'watch me do it' approach would have worked wonders. I don't just want to be shown how to open an oyster as part of an oyster recipe, I want to see the chefs creating the whole dish from start to finish. Maybe that's something for Great British Chefs v2?
I also have to take issue with the title, as not all the chefs are British. They might have restaurants in the UK but they are not British, but that's just me (a Brit) being picky I guess.
If you want to try cooking like Nuno Mendes, James Sommerin, Daniel Clifford, Tom Aikens, Simon Hulstone, Pascal Aussignac, Nathan Outlaw, Shaun Rankin, Martin Wishart, Frances Atkins, Marcus Wareing or Agnar Sverrisson then the Great British Chefs app is a brilliant and cheap way to have a go at just $6.99 (£4.99) which is a lot less than buying a selection of their collective cook books!