Are you one of those people who are more adept at video games than cooking? I’m not, but I’d rather play DS than cook. If you have more experience playing than cooking, but would love to be a better cook, America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking might just be the “game” for you.
Let’s Get Cooking serves as a solid introduction for beginner cooks. It includes 300 recipes, most of which are basic (although I did get a kick out of learning how to cook Chinese sticky rice), and it takes the user step-by-step through the preparation process. A friendly cartoon chef is the guide; real-life chefs provide lessons in various cooking techniques. There is a calendar feature which can be used to find meal suggestions for a variety of “special days,” such as Easter, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving.
The first lesson a prospective cook receives is a list of safety precautions, good reminders for any cook. Next up is the cartoon chef who welcomes the user, and on April 2, said “It’s almost Easter; let’s get cooking.” Shopping list and notepad features are handy, but “Cooking A-Z” is good for beginning and intermediate cooks, with sections on ingredients, utensils, preparation, chopping and cutting, terminology, helpful tips, example videos (simple instructions from human chefs), and important points.
Each “Cooking A-Z” section includes an alphabetical index listing the information offered. Need to know what a bench scraper is? It’s listed under utensils. In the terminology section, you can learn about boiling. There are even tips to help surmount your fear of frying. I particularly like having a quick, compact reference for terms; it's my favorite aspect of the software.
Most of this information (and lots more) is included in cookbooks, and there are thousands of them out there. America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking
offers demonstrations and a guide that takes the user through a recipe at the user’s own pace. It also provides instructions for group cooking, telling each member of the group when it’s time to do something. A real-time clock serves as a timer, advising when a step is complete. The cartoon chef’s speech can even be slowed or quickened to suit the user.