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Dana Cowin on Food & Wine's iPad App and Future Trends

Throughout the New York City Food & Wine Festival this weekend, Eater welcomes bloggers, journalists and food world stars to our lounge at the Standard Hotel. As the peeps pass through, we're going to chat them up and spit out the dialogue here in this business, From the Eater Lounge. Right now: Food & Wine's Dana Cowin.


So what is the story with the iPad app? This technology is the essence of sexy, you get these really beautiful back-lit glowing pictures and the opportunity to do video, and incorporate all the content from the magazine. Food & Wine is all about fun, and we feel like the app was an opportunity to take the magazine and the content of the magazine and completely rethink it for a different medium. We didn’t take pictures of the magazine and just transcribe it over. We really rethought everything about how a recipe should work on an iPad, which is complicated because you really want it to be useful.

How is the content different from the website? The difference to me is a higher level of curation, because with the website, if you go there for the videos or you’re going there because you’re searching for a recipe, you want to make dinner. But you come to the app because you wanted to be inspired, and you want to feel like the editor is creating this just for you.

What is your take on the other big food apps like the one from Epicurious? I feel like it’s a pretty different game, I spent a little time with the Epicurious app and it's awesome, but that is really a recipe utility tool and this is a lifestyle experience, translated. This is not like our website. I’ve found with so many apps, you get lost down the rabbit hole. In our app, you can read an article about Mario Batali and the first thing you get is the story. But we can’t help but entertain you along the way, so here he takes you all over Tuscany, which is something that’s related. Then we went to Mario and we said, “Eataly is a really amazing set of restaurants, what other restaurants do you like in America,?” So he gave us recommendations from all across the county. So people can use this as a research tool.

Is there advertising on the app? There is, actually, we have one advertiser, the Canadian tourism commission. They have five pages within the app.

Do you have to pay for the app? The first app is free, and the app after that is $3.99, we’re doing six of those a year, and we’re doing extra special wine content. This was not in the magazine in this format, so, it’s $3.99, but it’s a little bit misleading, because there will certainly be bundles where you can get the magazine and the app for one package.

Have you thought of moving any of the content to the website? It’s exclusive to the iPad for a month, and then the information will go on to the website, it’s not that you lose the material, it’s just that you lose the experience.

Do you have food and wine editors working on this? It’s all the Food & Wine team, so our photo team oversaw the videos, the editors oversaw the content, and we have one extra person to design the iPad app.

So what are you working on for the magazine right now? Did I actually have a job before the iPad app? We’re working on December, but we work on four issues at a time, so basically we’re working on December through April.

Are you going to be covering food and dining trends for those issues? We are. But this year we’re doing something different, and right now we’re putting the trends on a calendar, and each spread is a month, January through December, so it's basically predicting the trends through each months.

Any trends you can tell us about? We’re really interested in the shopping culture because of the rise of what we call “curation.” There’s this weird bicycle messenger food trend, which is very urban. We’re also looking at historicism, the idea of going back to the 1870s. A lot of these trends come together — food that’s made in a certain way, it’s a Brooklyn, Oakland and Portland axis, how they’ve just made these foods that inspire people all over the world.

Where are you eating these days? There are a few places that are driving my crazy. I haven’t been to Lincoln, I haven’t been to Osteria Morini, and there’s this place M. Wells. It’s a ten minute subway ride from Manhattan, it’s really great, it’s really cool, I had a carpaccio that was really good.

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