Everyday, food lovers from all over the world log on to the web in search of recipes. A growing number of sites, such as Food52 and Gourmet Live, are helping to democratize, personalize , and socialize the cooking experience (click here for a more complete of social recipe sites).
RecipeRelay is an interesting social recipe venture started by recent Antioch MBA granduates Sarah Maine and Brianna Bain as part of their vision to inspire and educate others about eating seasonally and locally. Maine and Bain are leveraging the web to make food a more collaborative, interactive, and personalized experience.
What sites do you visit? Do you participate in any online recipe sharing communities?
Danielle Gould: What is the inspiration behind RecipeRelay?
Sarah Maine: The seeds of RecipeRelay were planted while Brianna and I were attending graduate school at Antioch University New England. We were Green MBA students in an intensive program, spending a crazy 72 hours together each month learning, living and breathing sustainable business.
We had similar eating habits and personal sustainability values, so we found common ground while making meals together. I had a dream of creating a cookbook where I started with one recipe and worked through variations to end up at a totally different meal by the end of the book. I was hesitant to start it by myself so I proposed to Brianna that we pool our common passion for educating others about sustainable food by creating the cookbook online. Living on opposite coasts, me in New York City and Brianna in San Diego, added an extra challenge and exciting opportunity.
The result was RecipeRelay: a bi-coastal juxtaposition of seasonal food. We began passing recipes back and forth, and writing about our adventures navigating our local food systems. We were both interested in the dynamic potential of an online format where we could be free to create whatever we wanted while being accountable to ourselves and the public.
The blog format allows us to receive feedback and to build an interactive community as the project evolves.
DG: What is the ultimate goal of RecipeRelay?
Brianna Bain: Our ultimate goal is to help ourselves and others be more comfortable eating organic, seasonal and local food.
We want to inspire a more transparent relationship with food – helping people to understand what is in season, where food really comes from, how versatile ingredients can be. In this way we can influence the food system leading to changes in other systems such as health care and transportation.
We want to dispel the idea that food just happens to you. Many people don’t think of food as something that you can interact with and have a say in. We don’t think that everyone needs to act the same way but we want to empower people to feel comfortable integrating as many sustainable food practices as they can into their daily lives.
Sustainability looks different for everyone, so we are outlining potential avenues for sustainable relationships to food. Doing this on the Internet creates a live conversation that anyone can participate in to whatever degree they wish.
We would like to see RecipeRelay become a space for people all around the world to convene and exchange ideas for integrating sustainability into delicious, healthy home-cooked meals.
DG: How many people participate?
SM: Right now Brianna and I are the primary cooks and we have three primary cocktail contributors. In 2010 we had one guest cook and we are planning to have many more in 2011. Since we started in June of 2010 we have developed a network of readers all over the world. To manifest our vision of a more sustainable world we need more people to participate, to create energy behind the local food movement on an individual level. To make this happen we are designing the CommunityRelay – a social networking layer of RecipeRelay.com that will allow any reader to participate in the Relay by adding and sharing their own recipes, photos and sustainable food experiences. We are currently writing our business plan and looking for funding to support development
of the CommunityRelay.
DG: Do you know all of the people that particpate? If not, how have people found out about RecipeRelay?
BB: We believe that there is strength in having an authentic network, recommendations and word of mouth have been really important for building our community organically. At first our readership was mostly friends and family but now it extends far beyond that, thanks to traffic from Facebook, Twitter and Google. Facebook has been a great tool for
us, we use it to alert people about our recipes as well as to advocate for food systems issues that we might not cover in depth on the site. It’s a great way for us to connect with artisanal food producers that we highlight on RecipeRelay and tie into their networks.
DG: What interesting and/or surprising things have you learned so far?
DG: Could you tell me a bit about both of your backgrounds?
BB: Born and raised in San Diego California, I am the daughter of two entrepreneurs who have always guided me to take my passions to the next level. As a young child my freedom seeking mother exposed me to an array of alternative healing methods which led to a strong and fast interest in the power of food. I have explored raw, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and soy free diets as ways to reach optimum health. I discovered the pivotal role that food plays in harmonizing personal, spiritual, cultural and environmental sustainability. While food has always been a personal interest for me, it has not always been my professional path. It wasn’t until I applied myself to the Green MBA program at Antioch University that I realized the combined power of my knowledge of food and sustainability. Now my passion = profession. I have taken the reigns of the entrepreneurial spirit instilled in me by my parents and joined forces with Sarah to create RecipeRelay. Everyday I look forward to how I can help lead others to discovering the unique connection to their health, community and the Earth, all through food!
SM: My father’s job took my family out of the US when I was 7 months old and I didn’t move back until college. I spent my childhood in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, and my teens in Italy. My ex-patriot experience instilled in me a strong sense of what brings people together, art and food being two major forces. I chose to follow an art path, studying set design in college and then spending ten years working in the film industry in New York. About three years ago I decided to go back to school, choosing a Green MBA program because it fused practical skills with environmental idealism and activism, a combination that I felt had been missing in my film work. I also rediscovered the depth of my passion for food issues and faced up to the fact that for me, food is where it’s at – so here I am, enjoying every minute of cooking, writing and designing RecipeRelay!