Startcooking is a video recipe site devoted to teaching people who have never spent a day in the kitchen in their entire lives how to cook the simplest dishes, rather than buy packaged and frozen foods. Kathy Maister, the founder, host and editorial director of the show, majored in home-ec at the University of Massachusetts, and went on to teach it at a public middle school in Boston. After budget cuts at school, Kathy decided to teach a larger audience online. Inspired by the business videos made by her husband, former Harvard Business School professor, author, and respected business and management thinker, David Maister, Kathy launched Startcooking in December 2006.
Kathy really knows how to make you want to start cooking. These colorful and well-designed videos are fast-paced, fun and informative. Each one starts with the execution of the recipe, and ends with a supply list. They’re geared toward simple recipes for dishes everyone loves, like apple crisp, meatloaf, and roast chicken. Videos last between one and two minutes, and pack in a lot of information on how to select foods and cooking implements, how to cut or peel (Kathy is big on safety), and how to mix and cook. Kathy also has a huge amount of information on her blog, like how to make healthy French fries, guacamole, or how to properly handle red peppers. In addition, Kathy’s “tips and techniques” section includes useful information on practical cooking activities that some of us might be ashamed of not knowing like how to slice an onion or crack an egg. This is a good place not only for those who have never cooked before, but for anyone who feels a little uncomfortable with picking out apples or broccoli at the grocery store, or for those who don’t know what kind of knives they should have.
My favorite recipe of Kathy’s is for the vegetable/chef salad. Although it’s not something one would generally need instruction to make, I could see how those who have never cooked before might not know that making a salad was so easy. She tells you what you need to make the salad (a large bowl, a knife, etc.), but is not overly specific about all the ingredients necessary, encouraging you to be creative and use what you already have at home. I think what really scares people away from cooking is the idea that they have to go out and spend a ton of money on equipment and ingredients, which is not necessarily true.