Families get a hand-held and hands-on look into the world of cuisine with What’s Cooking? Jamie Oliver (for DS from Atari, $29.99). Bringing in the personality of the “Naked Chef,” this interactive cooking trainer features a cookbook-size serving of Mr. Oliver’s recipes.
The program’s best feature is an interactive cookbook containing more than 100 original recipes from Mr. Oliver’s signature, fresh-ingredient dishes. What makes these recipes extra special is the cookbook’s interactivity. Filter the list by starters, desserts and entrees. Further refine the list by food categories, i.e., vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, dairy and so on.
Next, choose a recipe and view photographer David Loftus’ pictures and read the ingredient list and preparation method. The DS’ screens switch the photos with the recipe while the prep instructions are below.
You can use the stylus to move through the preparation instructions, but when actually cooking, What’s Cooking? can change pages using the voice-activated commands “next” or “previous.” It takes a little programming and it’s worth it.
Like the recipe? When it’s time to take the dish from the virtual world to the family kitchen, the software offers a bit of shopping help by adding the recipe’s ingredients to a mobile shopping list.
Easily reviewed, the list of items already in your kitchen can be checked off, then the list can be filtered to group like items together for easier shopping. Take the DS to the market and tick off the items as you add them to your cart.
The other main component of What’s Cooking combines virtual mixing and mashing for a bit of game-playing fun. Virtual chefs prepare some of the same recipes found in the program’s interactive cookbook, but race against clock to create some of Mr. Oliver’s recipes before the timer dings.
As cooking challenges are completed, new kitchen styles, related recipes and new ingredients are opened, increasing the number of recipes in the cookbook.
The cooking challenges are a great way for the at-home chef or parent to get a good idea of how the various dishes are put together. It also sneaks in some educational moments for youngsters.
Young cooks learn how to follow directions and even practice reading and comprehension skills. Math skills are honed when measuring out ingredients, doubling or reducing a recipe, all of which include the very practical application of fractions.
During the action, the touch screen shows you what you are working on - the top of the stove, a cutting board, the prep area, etc. Across the top of the screen, touch an icon to open the pantry to get food supplies and cooking tools, bowls, plates, pots and pans.
Drag dirty dishes to the sink, combine ingredients in the prep area, chop on the block, turn on the heat of the stove or set the baking timer.
Items that need to be kept cold can be stored in the refrigerator, and as you create your recipe, the stylus is used to drag items from one kitchen area to the next. For example, dredge prawns in flour at the prep area, pull them into the stove icon to cook in the pan that already has been brought out of the pantry icon and dragged to the stove.
True to kitchens everywhere, a great soundtrack can enhance any cooking experience. The What’s Cooking? kitchen features a radio with volume controls to handle a dozen or so tunes.
What’s Cooking? also lets users get creative, offering the ability to store up to 100 additional recipes. Users can add new ingredients to the shopping list utility, and new utensils and directions to the games memory.View Entire Story
A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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