Developer: How 2 Media, Inc.
Cost: Free (+ in-app purchases)
Runs on: iPhone
Panna is one of the more interesting apps I’ve reviewed. Not just because of what it is, but how it started. Panna is a video cooking magazine built for the iPad and iPhone; but more importantly it was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, the crowdfunding website. The team of founders is also a powerhouse cast, including David Ellner, who worked behind the scenes of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance; Gary Vaynerchuk, wine celebrity and social media marketing guru; David Schaefer, Managing Partner of international law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP; and Dorothy Kalins, the founding editor-in-chief of Metropolitan Home.
If those names weren’t big enough, the culinary contributors are sure to get your interest, with offerings from the likes of Jonathan Waxman, Rick Bayless, Nancy Silverton, Seamus Mullen and others. Panna is a digital magazine built for your mobile devices, with a few free recipes to try before committing to the $14.99 subscription for six issues—released bi-monthly. Individual issues are available for $4.99 each.
The app itself is beautifully put together and very straightforward. Each issue has a dozen or so seasonal recipes hand-selected by the master chef contributors. Each issue is available for preview from the main screen, with one free recipe per issue. The current issue (No. 4) focuses on Spanish Spring recipes. Across the bottom of the app includes navigation for Recipes and your Shopping List.
The Recipes page provides a scrolling view of all the recipes from all the issues, which could seem clunky, but filters allow you to sift through the results by favorites, chef, prep time, ingredients, meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.) and more. This makes it really easy to find what you’re looking for. The only additional option I wish it had was a search function so I could jump straight to the Braised Short Ribs recipe by Jonathan Waxman rather than having to filter by dinner or other criteria.
Once in a recipe—which is where you’ll spend most of your time—you get a nice layout with the image, description, ingredients, recipe steps and more. Click the play button on top of the image and a sharply produced instructional video by the chef will begin playing. My favorite feature, though, is the ability to jump to specific steps within each video by clicking the play button within the written steps (you can also jump to a step by clicking a drop-down menu on the top of each recipe page).
My favorite feature is the ability to jump to specific steps within each video by clicking the play button within the written steps.
Once you have the recipe you want to cook, you can add the ingredients to your shopping list, favorite the recipe or even download it for easy access later. Recipes can also be shared via e-mail and Facebook.
If I had one real criticism of this app it’s the less-than-robust shopping list. As it is, you can sort the list by recipe, but that’s essentially it. That doesn’t make it bad, but I’ve definitely seen better. Mealboard, for example, allows you to dynamically change the serving size (and therefore the ingredient requirements), and Panna doesn’t provide any such option. Moreover, unlike Best Overall 2012 Food App Award Winner, Sara’s Kitchen (from Sara Moulton) you can’t sort the shopping list by grocery aisle (i.e., all the vegetables grouped together, dairy grouped together, etc.).
Overall, this is a terrific app that I can imagine other food magazines emulating to keep up with best practices of the changing digital platforms. I’m also happy to see real value being placed on a highly produced product that I believe is worth it.
Toque Rating: 4.75/5