Food isn’t just life, it’s also become a profitable source of entertainment. From the plethora of cooking shows on TV to a recent episode of the Simpsons with guest voice Gordon Ramsay and a must-see rap, foodies have more than just the search for the perfect restaurant to keep them occupied. Panna for iPad, a new iPad-only magazine featuring celebrity chefs and high-end how-tos is the latest bunch of grapes in food lovers’ ever-growing cornucopia.
Living up to its “Best Chefs, Best Recipes” billing, the first issue of Panna includes 12 recipes from 4 master chefs — Rick Bayless, Anita Lo, Jonathan Waxman, and Nancy Silverton — and nearly 200 minutes of video. Future issues plan to include other well-known chefs including Seamus Mullen and Melissa Hamilton.
Panna, which launched after a successful Kickstarter campaign last June, is definitely eye-candy, but it the recipes in the first issue aren’t just for wannabe Tony Bourdains or Ruth Reichls. Jonathan Waxman, known affectionately to many as Top Chef Masters’ Obi Wan Kenobe, walks the user through cooking a turkey and fellow Top Chef Master contestant Anita Lo reminisces as she gives a very relaxed master class on making Pork and Garlic chive dumplings.
The app’s UI is easily navigable and offers an attractive layout. Users can view the issue in a format that categorizes the recipes by how they might be used, scan the recipes as thumbnails, or watch Panna TV which features just the video segments. The app also lets reader share recipes via social media and set up a shopping list from within the app.
In this way Panna allows the users to rely on the app for step-by-step instructions or watch it just for the entertainment value, as with a cooking show. If Panna’s inaugural issue is any indication of its future, then foodies will have their first must-read digital magazine.
Download Panna for iPad for free from the App Store. Purchase single issues of the magazine for $4.99 or a yearly six-issue subscription for $14.99
What I liked: Panna is as gorgeous as it is useful. Despite all the video in the app, the first issue took up only a modest 24 MB on my iPad, making Panna the one digital cooking app that has earned a permanent place on my iPad. The app’s small size is probably related to its use of streaming video.
What I didn’t like: Despite being described as HD, all of the videos appear grainy, probably because they are streaming at lower quality. I downloaded one video to see if that improved the quality, but found the process frustratingly slow. When it did finish downloading the quality was great but the app was now hogging an additional 390 MB of space, meaning that most users will never be able to download all of the videos in an issue. These glitches definitely put a lump in my gravy, but hopefully they can be addressed in an update.
To buy or not to buy: Panna’s first issue strikes a balance between cooking time and effort. Readers will learn new skills, but the recipes aren’t intimidatingly difficult. For less than the price of a single cookbook, iPad-owning epicureans can access a number of recipes that will help any home cook get a special meal on the table. Not sure if you want to buy the issue? Then simply download the app, which is free and includes one recipe per issue.
- App Name: Panna for iPad
- Version Reviewed: 1.1
- Category: Food and Drink
- Developer: How 2 Media
- Price: Free plus in-app purchase $4.99 -$14.99