Don't Spend Valentine's Day Alone: Find Recipes, Friends on Foodily

If you’re planning a Valentine’s Day feast and want some company, here’s a site that might help. We recently met up with the founders of Foodily, a new site for discovering recipes and sharing them with friends on Facebook and Twitter. CEO Andrea Cutright and CMO Hillary Mickell used to job-share at Yahoo! before they decided to build a Website around the everyday task of figuring out what’s for dinner.

The founders assembled a team of seasoned search, linguistic and consumer product experts to create Foodily, a recipe search engine that’s as pleasurable to read as a recipe book or a magazine. The site launched earlier this month with funding from Index Ventures.

“We designed the site with the idea that people like food,” said Cutright. She likes to experiment with “interesting meat and veggie combos,” she said, while Mickell cooks for a finicky 6-year-old who loves tofu. With likes and dislikes in mind, the team designed the search tool to read ingredients and directions commonly used in recipe books, which makes the search terms more intuitive and the results more relevant.  “That’s our secret sauce,” Cutright said.

With the Facebook connection people can use their events page to plan a potluck by showing their friends the menu on Foodily and letting them add recipes or make comments. “It’s so visual,” said Mickell. “You can see the buffet table” fill up with the dishes people are planning to bring.

For some, bringing dessert means scraping seeds out of a vanilla bean for a homemade panna cotta; for others, it means adding a handful of marshmallows to a box of brownie mix. “Wherever you are on the food spectrum, you should have a good entry point,” Cutright said. A search for “salted caramel” reveals a gorgeous spread of ice cream, ganache and strawberries dipped in caramel and sea salt. Type in “dishwasher fish,” and you’ll find more than one recipe for fish that can be wrapped in tinfoil and cooked in the dishwasher. (Who knew?)

The recipes are aggregated from blogs and food sites all across the Web. On Google “it’s easy for a big company to play the keyword game” and come up first in the search results, said Mickell, but on Foodily indie blogs like Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete can turn up right alongside Martha Stewart and the Food Network. Needless to say, this has made the site popular among bloggers.

In the future, the founders are looking into adding geo-location and nutritional information, as well as refining the mobile phone application for easier scrolling. Building a menu online shouldn’t be like fishing for an old recipe card in the junk drawer. Said Cutright, “you should really be able to enjoy it.”