Journal Sentinel – Reviews RecipeBridge

Journal Sentinel - Reviews RecipeBridge

Milwaukeeans develop Dinner Search 2.0

You just want to find a recipe to make for dinner. Is that too much to ask?

You type in key words at Google and up pop a gajillion results. Or you go to individual sites such as Epicurious or Allrecipes and hope one of them has what you want.

Andy Theimer and fellow Milwaukee friends, cooks all, wanted a better system. In late March, Theimer and a partner launched, a vertical search engine that aims to make it easier for recipe-seeking home cooks to find just the right recipe.

As of last week, Recipebridge had a pool of 1.4 million-plus recipes from more than 200 sites in its database, with more being added all the time. Sites include the big players like Epicurious and Food Network but also smaller venues, including recipe blogs.

“One thing we’ve been able to do is give exposure to the little sites,” said Theimer, an Appleton native who lives in Milwaukee. Unlike some search engines, “you don’t get clumps of five recipes in a row from Epicurious.”

Indeed, of the 15 recipe choices that popped up in my test searches, each one was from a different site, and there was a mix.

Several types of searches are possible. You can search by ingredient (single or multiple), recipe (bananas foster, quesadillas) or meal (lunch, dinner, etc.). And you can get more complicated if you wish.

Say you have a can of chicken broth you want to use up. You can search under “chicken broth” for a selection of recipes with that one ingredient. If you decide you want to add peas and pasta, you can make it a three-ingredient search.

From there, you can further specify what kind of dish you want these ingredients to be in: for example, “casserole” or “soup.” And finally, you can filter your search by specifying a minimum and maximum number of ingredients.

Also, with each search, an “Add to your search” list pops up, prompting additional ingredients commonly found in the recipes you snared.

Each search is limited now to a single page of 15 results, but Theimer hopes to expand that in the future.

So far Theimer’s business has spent no money on marketing – promotions have been through Facebook and Twitter. That was enough to generate more than 2,000 unique visitors in the first month.

There are also no ads at the site – yet. And when those advertising opportunities do materialize, “We want to keep a very clean look, if possible,” said Theimer, who works a day job in marketing and sales for a start-up financial services software company. “So many sites are plastered with ads, it’s just ‘blinky blinky blinky.’ ”

At least one competitor has emerged since the launch of Recipebridge. is a similar recipe search engine currently in beta (test) format. Just launched by Scripps Network, the parent company of the Food Network, its database has the big players like Epicurious and, of course, Food Network, but skips blogs.

(When I did the same chicken broth and peas search, the 10 choices on the first page included eight from the same site: recipezaar.) also has filters. And on its result pages, a photo of each dish pops up, when available.

Theimer said he’s not too worried about any kind of search-and-seizure. In 2008, roughly 60 million consumers in the United States searched for recipes online, he said, citing Nielsen figures. They conducted a total of 6 billion individual recipes searches.

“So we think there’s a big market out there,” Theimer said. “There is probably room for more than one player in the recipe search category.”

He downplays tchotchkes like comments and ratings for individual recipes. Most people, he believes, don’t really care.

“Our niche is to go after the others of those 60 million who are just looking for what to cook for dinner.”

Posted by RecipeBridge Staff Writer May 6th 2009
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