Among the celebrity chefs to have rolled their app cart to market, Jamie Oliver and Nigella are the most successful: Jamie’s 20-Minute Meals (£4.99) and Nigella Quick Collection (£4.99) were two of the top five grossing apps last year in the Lifestyle category. The Nigella app is like the TV show, with the stagy innuendo toned down, and there’s a cherry-pick of recipes. Jamie also has a free app, Jamie’s Recipes, within which you can buy recipe bundles. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Every Day (£1.79) offers a modest but appetising collection of recipes (more batches can be added for 59p). There are guides to what to eat during the year, as well as How To video guides (build a cold smoker, forage for mushrooms).
The reign of MasterChef continues with MasterChef Academy UK (£2.99), a well-designed app featuring video tutelage on culinary skills, which you can follow up with a selection of recipes. Last month Michel Roux Jr introduced Fine Dining with the Master Chef (£4.99). Its 65 recipes may help you raise your game towards standards at his restaurant Le Gavroche, while head sommelier David Galetti chooses the wine. For more recipes, BigOven (free) has a cache of more than 150,000, with reader reviews. To check ingredients in season, try Locavore (£1.79), a US-based app dedicated to showing what is grown where and when.
Individual ingredients are also much worshipped by apps – John Blackburn’s Malt Whisky (£2.99) covers 122 single malts with reviews, geographic locators and audio clips of the correct phonetics for the daunting Highlands names. Steve Welch’s Fromage (£1.79) is a well-organised, 750-strong catalogue of world cheeses – with copious notes, customer ratings, wine recommendations and pictures. The Belgian Beer app (59p) is good fun, with tasting notes and brewery descriptions. Berry Bros (free) shows its wine lists with accompanying notes, vintage charts and links to its Virtual Wine School. Slurp Wines (free) also has an app with helpful suggestions for gifts, and you can keep an eye on your booze consumption with the NHS Drinks Tracker (free).
For eating out, it’s worth having Square Meal (free) for its reviews and booking service; also consider Scores on the Doors (free) for hygiene ratings. Tipulator (59p) is handy for divvying up the service charge among groups, while Vouchercloud (free) is an excellent way to save money using your location to show restaurant discounts and deals in the area.
And finally, for the mundane shopping order, Tesco’s Grocery app (free), currently advertised on TV, has been updated with a snazzy barcode function. It uses the iPhone’s camera to scan in barcodes, allowing the item to be added to your basket if it’s in stock. It worked for a packet of Wrigley’s Extra, a tube of Nivea Hand Nourishing Cream and a jar of Duerr’s Clear Blossom Honey, but claimed Twinings English Breakfast Tea was unavailable. A steady hand and correct lighting conditions are required for successful scanning – and it’s not quite as easy as it appears in the ad.