PUNCHFORK: Cooking with Algorithms

A watched pot never boils, eh? Well, a friend just hipped us to a website that’s sort of like watching lots of pots boil except fun and visually irresistible.

Punchfork is a recipe aggregator that uses social data — tweets, Facebook shares — to determine what recipes are trending in real-time. Or, as its mission statement puts it: “Bringing algorithms and analytics into the world of cooking and recipes.”

Punchfork homepage

Drawing from a current roster of 32 websites and blogs — from blue-chip publishers like Martha Stewart and Food Network to blogs like Smitten Kitchen and Cannelle et Vanille — Punchfork displays recipes on its homepage in a lush grid of photo links that refreshes continually and grows row upon row as you scroll down. Each recipe gets a 1-100 rating based on how much it has been “talked about and shared on the web.” There’s also a heart icon for registering your love for a recipe.

The presentation is elegant and super appealing; perusing all those beautiful food shots after dinner tonight, I got hungry all over again. You can sort them by what’s trending, what’s new, and what’s top rated, as well as look at the collected recipes from a particular publisher.

Punchfork recipe page

When you click through to a recipe, you’re taken to an internal Punchfork page, which at first struck me as a cheap ploy to steal one more page view before sending me to the original recipe. But in addition to telling you how many people tweeted or shared the recipe on Facebook, the recipe page lists the ingredients used and organizes them based on Punchfork’s own taxonomy (if you want the recipe preparation, you have to click to the original source). And that taxonomy makes searching for recipes by ingredients a very satisfying experience.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company was founded in May 2010 by Jeff Miller, a Silicon Alley entrepreneur and angel investor (he’s a backer of Forkly). The site also lists as an advisor Akimitsu Sano, the founder and CEO of the Japanese site Cookpad, described as “the world’s largest recipe community.” Asked recently on Twitter about the origin of the name “Punchfork,” Miller replied: “Two syllables, sorta catchy, memorable, easy to spell, .com domain name was available. That’s about it :)”

Works for us. We’ll be keeping an eye on Punchfork, a great discovery tool for recipes that’ll only get better as the list of publishers gets bigger.


  1. #1 by JFM on August 11, 2011 - 7:56 pm

    Hey Heather — This is my very first comment on any blog EVER.

    Something similar to Punchfork that I just discovered, also with beautiful photos: gojee.com.

    • #2 by domaphile on August 13, 2011 - 8:53 am

      Hi JFM! I am honored, and thanks for the link – will take a look!

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