We recently sat down with Rego and Sinem Sen, the co-authors of Flowchart Kitchen: Recipes Visualized to chat about their new eBook. In the interview, they shared a bit about the vision for this new take on the traditional cookbook.
Scribd: This is quite a unique book! How did it come together?
Rego: So growing up I always loved math, but I hated solving things written out as word problems…and unfortunately that’s what every written recipe is. Reading through a long paragraph to figure out how the ingredients go together and what tools you need- that’s just not how my brain works. I prefer to read instructions visually, like the assembly instructions that come with LEGOs or IKEA furniture (ok, maybe that’s not everyone’s favorite example). So when I wanted to learn how to cook something from my mother, I would watch her do it and take notes in my own way, drawing arrows connecting ingredients to pots/pans in a flowchart-like diagram.
Sinem: And once I saw Rego’s way of drawing out recipes like that, I thought it was brilliant…and kinda hilarious. I’m always thinking of new ventures, and I told Rego that we need to make a coffee table book with these recipes.
Rego: Right, and as we worked together on this we agreed to gear this book to technically-minded people who are just starting out in the kitchen. That’s why we focused on comfort food. I think more people like me would enjoy cooking if all the recipes weren’t presented as an intimidating block of text.
Scribd: I understand you two are brother and sister? What has working together been like?
Sinem (laughing): Well, you always hear from people that you should avoid working with friends or family, but I think it can work in your favor as well. Rego and I are like Yin and Yang- he’s the guy who was really nerdy growing up and went to MIT, and I was the social butterfly that majored in Entrepreneurship. There’s not much overlap between our strengths, so we haven’t had to fight over who does what. Rego’s been handling the technical side of things, and I’ve been handling the business and marketing side.
Scribd: How did you discover Scribd?
Sinem: We were originally going to try and have this published physically, maybe even go through Kickstarter to raise money for the design and self-publishing. I knew about Scribd through friends, and when we checked into it we realized this site was the perfect way to get our book out there.
Scribd: So have neither of you have published a book or article before?
Rego and Sinem: Nope!
Scribd: What are your future plans for the book, now that it’s published on Scribd?
Sinem: At the moment we’re trying to build interest as an e-book, and we want to see how people use it. We just created accounts on Facebook and Twitter, so this is still Week #1 for us. As it gathers more interest, we’d love to expand it with more recipes and have it published as a coffee table book! The thing is, the design bar for a coffee table book is really high and neither of us are experienced designers, so we’ll either want to go through a mainstream publisher that already has those resources, or research designers and pay for it out-of-pocket. Right now the former option looks more attractive, since we’ve never done this before.
Rego: There’s some longer-term goals as well. I hope to create a GPS-like app that walks you through a recipe. And instead of using a kitchen timer, the app could time each step and alert you when to take something out of the oven. I would also have it respond to voice commands like “next” and “what?” (to repeat an instruction), so you wouldn’t have to touch the screen with sticky fingers. And then I’d like to create a website that lets people generate and share their own visual recipes, but that’s even further down the road. For now we just want to see if this kind of cookbook resonates with people.
Here at Scribd we loved their new book and wish them much success.