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Sure, it's popular, and yes, it won an App Design Award at WWDC in 2010, but does that make Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals worthy of $7.99? I decided to finally try out this celebrity-created recipe app to see if it's worth its weight in iTunes credits.
The app opens with an introduction video from the man himself. Sounding only like a bit of a cliché, Jamie Oliver tells us that he hopes his app can help everyone to make tasty, quick meals, and urges us to follow all of the tips, pay attention to the pics and videos, and to get the right kitchen equipment.
There are about 60 recipes here, sorted by category (soup, meat, vegetarian, etc.) or searchable by name or ingredient. Those familiar with Jamie's cuisine and cooking style will not be surprised to find lots of fresh ingredients, varied types of veggies and meats, and exotic and robust flavours and spices. This is a fantastic resource for just the recipes themselves.
Once you've chose what to make, embrace the fact that you're using an app, not a page from a cookbook; by turning your iOS device on it's side you'll get step-by-step instructions with helpful audio tips from Jamie himself. Every single step in every single recipe has a beautiful, retina-display quality instructional photograph. This is where this app really shines.
While the recipes themselves don't have videos, there is a resource of over 20 useful videos with Jamie offering information like Knife Skills, Onion Chopping, Preparing Garlic and other helpful tidbits. Within each recipe you'll find links to the videos that will be most helpful with that particular recipe.
You'll also find a section called 'Essentials,' with videos and lists of information about everyday essential kitchen items, from ingredients to equipment. Jamie does a great job of explaining what each of these items are perfect for, and why you might want to always have it on hand. Without being over-drawn, or too verbose, it gives a great starting point for first-time cooks to feel confidant in their own kitchens.
However, I'm not a giant fan of the way the Shopping List feature is utilized. Firstly, you can only add an Entire Batch of all ingredients from within each recipe to the list, not individual items. Also, while each recipe gives you a list of equipment you'll need, you can't add these items to the shopping list easily, but you can add anything manually, by typing it in. Moreover, you cannot delete individual items (just whole recipes ingredients), and you'll sometimes get duplicate items - like "Olive Oil" and "Extra Virgin Olive Oil".
The app is really well designed. I've not seen many others that display recipes with such ease. While you might be paying a premium for the 60+ recipes and instructional videos due to the Jamie Oliver name, it's still a useful and tasty resource for home cooks, and I think worth eight dollars.