If you're a chef or someone on the verge of becoming one, the best thing you could take with you into the kitchen (besides your utensils) is an iPad. That's because there are seven quality applications to choose from with hundreds of recipes and other options to help you gain the cooking edge. Here are our favorites...
"Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List" (CondeNet, free)
Out of all the restaurant applications across iPad and iPhone, "Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List" is one of the highest recommended ones. It's easy to see why. Along with a user friendly interface that lets you scan across 28,000 recipes (including ones from publications like Bon Appetit and Gourmet Magazine) you can also set up personal shopping lists to get the necessary items to make these dishes. No more fumbling around grocery stores looking for the wrong things. On the iPad version, you also have the ability to check out nutrition information and scan your recipes using a full-screen cookbook layout, so you won't have to squint while hovering over the stove. Best of all, it's free, perfect for those would-be chefs on a budget. It'll save you more money for the paprika.
"170,000 Recipes and Grocery List- Bigoven Pro" (Lakefront Software, $9.99)
Although it costs more than "Epicurious Recipes," "170,000 Recipes and Grocery List- Bigoven Pro" provides you plenty of bang for your buck. This app features a handy look-up tool, allowing you to scan the oodles and oodles of recipes for ingredients or specific dishes, so you won't have to flip through every single page. There's also a nifty Leftovers option, where you can enter up to three spare ingredients and see what other dishes you can make with them. Best of all, "170,000 Recipes" interacts directly with BigOven.com. Once you create an account for free, you can post pictures and your own recipes, while interacting with hundreds of fellow cookers. There's a huge shopping list option here as well, so you can track down necessary ingredients with no problem. The only downside? This application will make you hungry.
"Italian Cooking HQ" (Buenavista Studio, $4.99)
Unlike the previous applications above, "Italian Cooking HQ" sticks specifically to Italian-made dishes. That's all right, because there's enough good stuff included here to get you salivating. "Cooking HQ" features dozens of photos from renowned food photographer Gunter Beer, enabling you to see a virtual gallery of what you're preparing. Step-by-step instructions break down how to make each dish with very little error, and a translation gallery lets you break down terms without needing to ask your cousin Guido for help. You can also forward given recipes and ingredients to your desktop via email, so you can print them for later use from your home computer. The only thing missing is a voice sample saying, "Mama mia, that's a spicy meatball!" But we're pretty sure Guido can help out with that...
"iChocolate2" (Mark David, $1.99, free version available)
Why bother with making a full-blown dinner when you can go right to desert? "iChocolate2" is the ideal app when it comes to making anything out of chocolate, be it a scrumptious molten lava cake, delectable profiteroles, or good ol' fashioned cookies. This App is updated every month with fresh new recipes, although the ones it comes with now are impressive, with dozens of dishes to make and an easy-to-follow guide breaking down the creation process. There's also a search tool available, should you want to go right to your favorite chocolate dish. After all, who can resist a yummy Chocolate Mousse? If $1.99 isn't quite the asking price you were looking for, feel free to try out the free version and see if it's to your taste.
"Smart Chef Suite" (Rantek Inc., $2.99)
If you're looking for an application that talks more about the technical side of cooking, "Smart Chef Suite" is worth checking out. This program breaks down into three sections - Substitutions, Conversions and Definitions. As expected, Definitions tells you about cooking terms and when to properly use them. Conversions helps you figure out the metric volume, weight and temperature of specific items in dishes, such as meats and/or other ingredients. Finally, there's substitutions, a nice addition that allows you to seek out alternate items for recipes should you not have immediate access to a nearby store. While it may not be as widespread as other recipe-laden Apps, "Smart Chef Suite" is a must for up-and-comers who wish to learn everything about their craft.
"Creole Cooking HD" (Frederic Marchal, $1.99)
This is one of the better cooking specialty programs available for iPad, teaching you all the ins and outs when it comes to making your favorite creole dishes. You get to choose from over 250 quality recipes here, making everything from drinks and cocktails to full-on dishes and jams. All you'll need is a craving for adventurous creole food and the ability to put it all together. This program features a very helpful menu system, along with an auto-save option should you need to close the menu and open it again at a later time, so you won't have to look it up again. It also translates automatically from English to French and back again, so if you're confused on any terms, it breaks it down for you. Get a little creole in your soul, you won't be sorry.
"Serving Sizer Pro for iPad" (Creative Algorithms, $2.99)
Finally, we have one more program that will no doubt help you accelerate your cooking skills. "Serving Sizer Pro" enables you to sort handwritten recipes and index cards in one handy spot, so you won't have to file them in a disastrous fashion in real life. You'll also be able to adjust conversions across up to 500 items, should you need to sweeten (or perhaps unsweeten) your particular dish. For those outside the U.S., you can also convert measurements to the metric system. Best of all, once you've gotten all your recipes inputted into the "Serving Sizer", you can share them with others via email. It may be more technical than other programs, but it's simple to get the hang of after just a few minutes use. You could say you're getting it down to size.