Movember

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It’s Movember and we’ll be growing a moustache to raise funds and awareness for men’s health. It’s going to be a hairy journey and we want you to be part of it.

Fight for your right to change the face of men’s health, enlist for Movember and JOIN our TEAM now.

A moustache is the mark of a man, and today it is a symbol to spark conversations about important health issues. So guys, pledge to grow a Mo today, or ladies, join the team to support the Mo.

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Find out more about why you should join us by taking a look at THE CAUSES WE ARE FIGHTING FOR.

Thanks for supporting and helping us change the face of men’s health.

United We Mo!

Happy One Year Anniversary!

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ChefSteps’ first anniversary has come and gone, and, like any good startup, we were too busy working on the next great thing (our online French macaron class) to stop and celebrate.

I asked some fellow team members to weigh in on what it’s been like to work at ChefSteps for the past year, and they had plenty to be grateful for.

Michael Natkin, our CTO, described his favorite part of the job: “I get to combine two of my favorite things: food & code.”

Lorraine Esterling, our social media director, on the work environment at ChefSteps: “It looks a little like the show Breaking Bad, with the mysterious lab and maker builds scattered about; plus an influx of irresistible aromas from the kitchen; Ben’s and Grant’s playlists; Chris’s ongoing dissertations; lots of laughter; amazing food; and coffee, endless coffee. In other words, heaven on earth.”

Software engineer, Huy Nguyen, on the best parts of working at ChefSteps: “Being able to work with so many talented people on a subject I’m passionate about. Getting to talk to people of different disciplines and backgrounds. I enjoy chatting with the chefs in the kitchen, with Hans about music, you and Ryan about video, Lorraine about social media. We have such a diverse and multi-talented team. Not to mention, getting to taste all the food.”

Our product designer, Tim Salazar, told me about his favorite parts: “The people. The freedom to work on a million things. The space, culture, and of course, the food. Lots of things to think about, challenges everywhere, and big things on the horizon.”

I agree with all of it—especially the part about the talented people I get to work with.

We’ve spent the past year developing recipes and techniques, building a clean, easy-to-use platform to feature your recipes, establishing an awesome online culinary community, and listening to input from that community.

I’d like to raise my apple gin gimlet to salute our amazing ChefSteps community, our founders Chris Young, Grant Crilly, and Ryan Matthew Smith, and the rest of the ChefSteps team, which continues to grow.

Many thanks to all of you ChefSteppers for your continued support. If there is anything you’d like to see us improving on in the next year, leave a comment or email me at kristina@chefsteps.com with the subject line: “One Year and Counting.”

The French macaron class is coming soon!

We’re really looking forward to the upcoming launch. We can’t wait to see all of your amazingly successful macarons!

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A few weeks ago, our chefs handed the aprons to the rest of the (non-chef) team, and asked us to beta-test the class. We paired up into teams and made our own batches of macarons—with no support from the kitchen staff. That’s right, no support at all.

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They watched us like lab rats as we cooked our way through the class, making sure that the step-by-step instructions and videos were easy to understand and interpret. If we had any obstacles throughout the process, we talked about them and wrote them down. Then, we went back and fixed everything that had been confusing or unclear.

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This was such an entertaining and enjoyable activity to do with my coworkers. I hope you will give it a try as well! Speaking from experience, I can say that this thorough, in-depth class will help you perfect your French macaron artistry. I guarantee it!

Before we launch, we’re giving away three free entrances to the class: http://goo.gl/z71pzN

Click here to view this promotion.

Weeknote 52

Things

This is what my Things list looks like.

 

5 weeks late, the weeknote is back. The last time I had a weeknote ready to draw up, I was going to talk about the Knife Collection Design, which is up at chefsteps.com/knife-collection.

We worked really hard on the design and implementation of this page so that it would work on mobile as well as desktop. The original idea I had for the knives came from (of all places) Boden, which featured large, lovely pictures of clothing and touch or click targets on top of those that opened up a popover to purchase. For the life of me, I can’t find any good examples of them doing that now, and it’s possible they’ve moved on from that design, but I liked it, so cribbed it, mostly because I knew we wanted to have a very photography heavy experience and to highlight those knives. Since our pics are so great, wtf not, right?

Additionally, we have these awesome stories to tell, and I wanted to draw the eye to them when users scrolled so that it wasn’t ignored. You’ll see the pics naturally, but the words about these knife makers is pretty freaking cool, so I used a little javascript magic to put a cool gray background behind the words. This, you’ll see was another idea stolen from kerem.co, whose got a beautiful website as well.

When we had our first iteration, responsive was screwing everything up, and our mobile screens weren’t doing what we wanted so I iterated on those a bit. Truth be told, I should obviously be designing mobile first, but our user base does actually skew heavily towards desktops, though we absolutely expect that to change. So instead, I pitched the push-right, push-left idea to Huy, and he came up with a great implementation. Affordances to show that you can click off (or the plus button) to close the window were light, so another idea, from Path’s menu was taken.

So that’s it! Those are all my design secrets. We’ve been hard at work on the macaron course, which involves brand-new content (of course) but also a redesign landing page and activity pages for the courses, streamlined with a focus on getting through and experiencing the content so that there’s less jumping back and forth. If you’re interested in getting a sneak preview and talking about it for a while, leave a comment.

 

It’s all about the beer this weekend!

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Can you guess what we’ll be doing this weekend? We’ll be raising our beer steins in honor of Crown Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria’s wedding on October 17th, 1810—the occasion of the first Oktoberfest. The event festivities were such a hit, that the tradition of Oktoberfest still lives on 200 years later. Prost to that!

And, speaking of history, since the late 19th century, the Pacific Northwest region has been known for producing hops. Our grand ole state, Washington, contains approximately 75 percent of the total United States hop acreage. Cool, eh?

We have many reasons to be clanking our steins together; Oktoberfest, the upcoming first year anniversary of our website launch, and a slew of new recipes in production. So, in honor we’ll be drinking some of our favorite beers. And what are our preferred brews? Well, we’re lucky to have several local Northwest breweries among our favorites—a shout out to Georgetown Brewing CompanyHilliard’s Brewery, & Ninkasi Brewing.

And remember, don’t drink all your beer, make sure you save enough for this recipe. This meal would pair beautifully with a pale ale in hand!

Ein Prosit!

Side note: Since we’re on the beer topic, look for us on Brew Dogs, premiering on September 24th, 2013 on the Esquire Channel. We might have contributed to the world’s most-caffeinated beer, you’ll have to watch to find out!

Danke!

Listening to the ChefSteps Community

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A few weeks ago ChefSteps launched our first “vote for new content” poll. Our goal was to engage you, our community, in helping us decide what recipes to develop and which techniques to share. By an overwhelming margin, you all voted for a short course on how to prepare perfect Parisian macarons.

We took the result seriously, and Grant and Ryan have been hard at work shooting the videos for this course. It’s going to be great. We’ll show you how; step-by-step, French macarons are really made by pros like Pierre Hermé.

And for those of you who voted for other content, don’t worry. Some of those ideas, like vegetable pastrami, are certain to be developed by the kitchen team in the near future.

Aside from voting for new content, we’ve been asking some of you what the most valuable thing the ChefSteps team can do to help you become a better cook. Many of you have responded by asking for more short courses. With this in mind, we’ve just launched our second poll so you can vote for which new course we should work on next. Check them out, and then pick the one that you’re most interested in. And please, share your vote with any friends and family members that you think would be interested in one of our courses; you can share via Twitter, Google+, Facebook, email or some other preferred social platform that we don’t even know about yet.

— Chris

Good Taste Tour: Flavors of Seattle

We were honored when asked to participate in the Good Taste Tour: Flavors of Seattle as part of Drive the District powered by GM (General Motors). After traveling the nation, the GM Taste Tour had one final pit stop (no pun intended). We think they saved the best for last.

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Our chef friends, Brian McCracken and Dana Tough of McCracken Tough restaurants curated the evening. We welcomed the GM Taste Tour family, along with Chef Jason Franey of Canlis, local foodie friends; Jen Chiu, contributor at Eater Seattle, food freelancer Chris Nishiwaki and bloggers Naomi Bishop and Keridwyn Deller to our space and invited them to taste what we had been developing: a Carbonated Celery GimletPNW Salmon and a rendition of the Aerated Green Apple Sorbet.

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Take a look at what the evening entailed!

For more behind the scene pictures, visit and follow our behind the scenes Pinterest board.

Weeknote 3

Hi guys, UX Design here again. The weeks keep going by too fast! Missed another weeknote, so I’m going to break it down for you quickly:

I started working on new nav paradigms for the site. Many thanks to the folks that have already participated in the card sort I put up last week. I got some great feedback and we’ll be updating the nav someday soon.

I’m running my first usability test this week and will be doing more soon, I hope. If you are interested in participating (remotely or otherwise), please get in touch – Leave a comment, tweet, forum post, door-knock, whatever. We really have some exciting stuff we need help testing to get right for our users, and your help would be awesome.

We launched poutine! I also made a poutine badge, which I like very much. You can’t imagine the amount of time it took me to get the fries to look right. Shout-out to Emmett for some refinement help.

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The poutine course is pretty great. It’s using the same course structure we established with Spherification and we’re hoping to use this same structure for courses going forward. Our aim on these course pages is to be able to encapsulate the recipes and science with more structure and narrative, so you can get through and be linked to the forum easily from any page to ask questions.

I’ve made the fries twice now, and if anyone is considering doing it, just do it already. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s not really, the hardest part for me is finding enough counter space to lay out all the fries after the water bath. I don’t have an immersion circulator, so just used a pot and a thermometer. I performed the brine test, which was fun, and substituted light corn syrup in lieu of Glucose Syrup, which has a little vanilla in it that maybe I could taste a little bit, but also probably just in my head as well (my palate ain’t that good).

More good stuff: You can favorite/like any recipe or technique we have on the site now, and you’ll be able to have those show up in your profile for safe-keeping. Use it to keep track of recipes that you want to cook later or have cooked and would like to cook over and over again.

The last big thing I’d like to mention, is that we’ve enabled uploads for all recipes! I uploaded the fish & chips I made a while back, and if I hadn’t fallen completely flat on the pomme rösti I tried to make yesterday, would have uploaded that one, too. You guys should really start uploading your pics, it’s a lot of fun.

My timeline on my profile is getting kind of ridiculous. We’re working on it.

Cheers! Have a great week.