Tasty, Buzzfeed’s recipe site offshoot, is largely to blame for the ubiquity of cooking videos shot overhead. Though the video model featuring disembodied hands preparing a dish at lightning speed has been copied by nearly every food publication, only Buzzfeed is about to release a product to coincide with its videos: The Tasty One Top is an induction cooktop that connects to a smartphone app.
The device, which is available for preorder now, looks like a straightforward electric hot plate shaped like a blue pentagon. But it’s designed to follow recipes from the Tasty cookbook, released last year, according to the New York Times. It’s priced at $149, and the first models will be shipped out later this year.
The Tasty One Top, which was developed in conjunction with GE, includes equipment and settings that allow it to act as an immersion circulator to sous vide foods, and it apparently gets hot enough to sear and steam. The cooktop can be used without the mobile app, but users that want to follow a Tasty recipe can go to the app and select from almost 2,000 Tasty videos which have now been broken down into steps. Users can then sync their desired recipe to the One Top and it will heat and cook according to the temperatures and times specified in the recipe.
The cooktop can also be used manually, or without syncing to the app, according to the Verge. “One of the things I don't love about the smart home market is that not everything needs to be connected,” Ben Kaufman, leader of BuzzFeed’s Product Lab told the Verge. “Not every meal do you wanna do the fun stuff. So we wanted to make it really easy for people to turn the power on and cook freestyle.”
“What we’re seeing is how to make a business out of massive intellectual property that was built digital-first,” Ashley McCollum, Tasty’s general manager told the Times. “It’s the same model as old-media networks — you make a movie that people love, and then you build a theme park and extend that to products and everything else.”
The chief issue with connected cooktops is that they don’t account for the massive variability of the realities of cooking. If users skip a step, use the wrong ingredient, or otherwise riff on a recipe the devices won’t be able to adapt to these changes, and the resulting product will look vastly different from that last shot in every Tasty video. Still, the Times gave the product a high review, saying that it “seems to work really well.” Will novice cooks agree?
• How BuzzFeed’s Tasty Conquered Online Food [NYT]
• BuzzFeed made a smart hot plate that syncs with its viral cooking videos [Verge]