Alain Briançon calls his budding business “Netflix or Spotify for food.”
The Poolesville resident is building a website and mobile application that will compile users’ preferences and dietary restrictions as they use it, and recommend recipes and shopping lists based on those preferences. Briançon calls it Kitchology.
The app will be especially useful to individuals and families with food allergies or other dietary restrictions, because it can be programmed to weed out and substitute for certain kinds of food, like peanut products or foods high in fat.
He started working on the program in 2010, after becoming frustrated with the amount of food wasted by the average American family, which he said amounts to about $1,500 each year.
“Waste comes from when you’re running out of time, and you don’t know what to cook, so you order something when you have a pantry full of food that could make a great, nutritious meal,” Briançon said.
Over the last three years, Briançon, who has a background in mobile technology design, and his partners have developed the software — filing five patents along the way — and studied recipes and food science.
The website and the app will launch in phases. The first phase will be web-only, and will look like a recipe management website, to be launched later this spring at www.kitchology.com. The app is expected to launch in the summer as a recipe app. Eventually, the “kitchen assistant” will be launched as part of the app, which will learn from users as they use the product.
While the app will be free, Briancon said the website will have traditional advertisements as well as offers of deals from supermarkets and other food suppliers.
Briançon and his team — 38 people total, some of whom work in China, including food scientists, nutritionists, and “foodies” — are gearing Kitchology toward busy families by integrating prepared foods, like a box of macaroni and cheese or canned soups, into their recipes.
“The reality of the kitchen is not fancy cooking all the time,” Briançon said. “The reality is that I have some of this and some of that, and I need something done fast and something nutritious.”
The program is also built to minimize the amount of time users have to spend inputting information.
“We’re mindful of the fact that the more you ask the users to enter, the less they’ll use the product,” Briançon said.
So the program bases its recommendations on what the user has done in the past: what recipes have been cooked, what products have been scanned, and what is on the shopping lists that are integrated into the app. The user will also occasionally be asked questions about preferences or purchasing habits.
The unique part of Kitchology, Briançon said, is that users won’t have to input every item in their pantry into the system to get a recipe recommendation. The program can predict what’s in the kitchen, although Kitchology’s ability to predict shopping and cooking habits will depend on its consistent use.
Briançon has lived in Poolesville with his wife, Maria, since 2000, after moving from his native France.