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December 17, 2008 12:00 AM

Ex chowhounds launch Foodista, a Wikipedia/IMDB for food

Posted by Brier Dudley

Seattle's cluster of successful food-oriented Web sites - which includes hits such as Allrecipes, Recipezaar, BigOven and Urbanspoon - just got bigger with today's debut of Foodista.

The site is a user-editable online encyclopedia of food, divided into four broad categories - recipes, foods, tools and techniques. Users can upload recipes or photos, and add and edit entries, with changes moderated by the community of users.


Foodista's founders have been blogging for awhile, building relationships with bloggers, to whom the new site will offer a linking resource and embeddable recipe widgets.

They're also taking the open route with their site, using the Creative Commons approach to sharing its data and aiming to release APIs for developers to build applications taking advantage of the platform.

Chief Executive Barnaby Dorfman is a New York native who worked in various food industry jobs and worked at MSN before entering the startup world, a path that eventually led him to, where he worked on the IMDB movie database, the retailer's gourmet food category and most recently was vice president in its A9 search business.

Dorfman and his partner, former merchandiser, Sheri Wetherell, were living in the Bay Area when they decided to start Foodista and moved back to Seattle to develop and launch the company. She's the startup's vice president of editorial.

The third member of the team is CTO Colin Saunders, another Amazon vet.

Dorfman said Foodista's not aiming to be another online recipe community. It's more of a technology play, akin to Wikipedia or IMDB.

If they get critical mass, perhaps their former employer would be interested in adding a community-driven knowledge base to Amazon Fresh.

It's an intriguing site, especially as a link generation/SEO tool for food blogs. It also has an easy interface and slick tools for uploading and automatically tagging recipes, adding links for each ingredient, for instance.

But I wonder if cooks will be uncomfortable with the ability of any user to edit and alter recipes they submit to the site. Dorfman and Wetherell said they're working on adding additionial controls and tools for users (who progress from dishwasher up to chef depending on how much they contribute to the site).

To balance all the information about luscious foods, there's 1Vigor, another local entrepreneur's Web site that launched this month.

Founder Ralph Teller, a Fall City lawyer and fitness enthusiast, launched the site as a resource for health, fitness, Eastern philosophies and longevity news and information. Features include a free exercise log for users to keep track of their progress in various activities.

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