Review: Acacia Tree Software SousChef

See your recipes from afar while cooking with SousChef. (February 7th, 2009)

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Product Manufacturer: Acacia Tree Software

Price: $30 US

The Good

  • Excellent text and website import functions. Speech integration. Remote support for viewing recipes at a distance. Basic AppleScript support.

The Bad

  • Doesn't use standard recipe file formats. Limited search function. Recipe cloud lacks a large number of recipes I want.

Personal computers have always promised easy recipe management, yet few people keep a Mac next to their stove. SousChef (v. 1.0.2) gives you a good reason to move your Mac. The program manages recipes and displays them in easy-to-follow format while you cook. The application also features a unique recipe search capability that works across the Internet. SousChef can finally answer the timeless question in most households, "What's for dinner?"

SousChef tracks detailed information for each recipe, including ingredients, preparation, serving size, cuisine type, and picture. The handy Yield menu item modifies your recipe if you want more or less than the specified servings. You can rate recipes and organize them in multiple libraries and collections. However, SousChef only allows limited searching based on: ingredients, recipe name, category, and cuisine. Basic searches work fine, but the program is missing the kind of advanced search that some cooks might desire and other programs offer.

SousChef has a unique and powerful import function, which can copy recipe information directly from the clipboard. Pasting a recipe copied from a web site or other source into SousChef automatically identifies the description, ingredients, and preparation. You can modify SousChef's identification feature to handle several different recipe formats. In some cases, complex formats might require modification of the format. SousChef's technical support team was very helpful when I contacted them for assistance in tweaking the custom import function to handle a particularly difficult recipe format.

 SousChef Import Screen

SousChef Import Screen


SousChef does not import the standard MasterCook file format used by many other PC and Mac recipe management programs, which may be a weakness if you already have many recipes in this format. However, the program supports importing text and Word files. Due to the excellent clipboard and text file import, SousChef easily imported more of my existing recipes than other programs I've used.

SousChef has many cook-friendly functions. It includes a database of standard recipe substitutions in the Preferences that you can annotate. For example, cooks usually know you can substitute lemon juice for vinegar, and SousChef converts the recipe. In the General preferences tab, you can edit a list of ingredients you always have on hand. A third Preferences tab, Units, allows the entry of a variety of unit abbreviations with which to calculate recipes and perform recipe scaling or substitutions.

 SousChef Cook Screen

SousChef Substitutions Preference


Additionally, SousChef's Cook Mode puts recipes into a presentation format you can read across the room and control it with the Apple Remote. This ten-foot mode appears in high contrast with only the information you need to create the dish. Cook Mode also uses Apple's speech functions to read the recipe aloud and respond to your voice commands during the recipe vocalization.

 SousChef Cook Screen

SousChef Ten Foot Mode


You can also email recipes, post them to a blog, or share them in a "recipe cloud." Loosely defined, clouds of information are virtual resources located anywhere in the Internet. When searching SousChef for recipes, the program not only searches the database on your Mac, but also the recipes of all other SousChef users who have not marked their recipes as private. Currently there are over 6500 recipes in the cloud, a large majority from the Acacia Tree S oftware's own personal library.

 SousChef Search Results

SousChef Search Results


Overall, SousChef is an excellent recipe management program with some compelling features. Cooks with a large existing recipe collection might look to another program that supports MasterCook import format. However, users who want to build a new personalized recipe database will find SousChef a great way to go, and all users will appreciate SousChef's Cook Mode when they are busy in the kitchen.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor
2-28-09 Edited third Preferences tab information.

by Dave Greenbaum


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