Last Recipezaar interview?

While on vacation, I got email from Rebekkah Denn, the food writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who was doing an article on all the food sites in Seattle. I replied to her in email and “the article is online now”: This isn’t the first time we’ve been asked this question and it amazes me how far people go to rationalize the premise that Seattle is a center for food-related online businesses. Even in her list of top 10 sites, four are in New York (,,, and but only two are in Seattle. Seattle, Starbucks and microbreweries had nothing to do with why we started Recipezaar. If anything, Microsoft is the reason there are online companies here.

Email correspondence:

bq. We’re on vacation in California right now, what’s the timing on your article?

bq. To answer your question, we think it’s just a coincidence that there are/were so many food-related sites started in Seattle. When we started, we didn’t even know about AllRecipes or and quickly learned that the makers of MasterCook software were also in Seattle. No idea why, really. I know that AllRecipes took one or two MasterCook employees, but other than that, I don’t think there’s any relation between any of us. I’m guessing it’s just that there are so many tech people in the area.

bq. Quickly, Recipezaar came about because Gay and I were bored at Microsoft and wanted to start our own business. This was in 1999. After various ideas, we decided to do a recipe site since there were tons of them around but all were pretty lousy — we felt we could build the better product. So we tried. 🙂 Recipes made sense to us as a self-funded startup because 1) we didn’t need to store inventory (low startup costs), 2) recipes can’t be copyrighted so we couldn’t be sued the way Napster was at the time (low legal fees), 3) recipes are structured information that, if understood by the computer, could be made more useful to people than just text on a page and 4) it was all software, which is our only skill. We weren’t great cooks (still aren’t), as you might expect. As we always said “We just like to eat”. 😉

bq. If you want to talk more, email’s fine with us if you aren’t in a hurry to write your article. We’re on vacation, so email could be sporadic for the next week or so with us. If you want to talk by phone, we can schedule some time.

bq. On Mar 12, 2008, at 11:28 AM, Denn, Rebekah wrote:

bq. Dear Troy —

bq. I understand you and Gay aren’t with recipezaar now, but wondered if you might share some thoughts with me on its origins. I’m working on an article for our food section at the P-I,
noting how many successful recipe and restaurant sites were founded in the Seattle area, and trying to get some idea of why. Is it just that we had so many tech people here, and were
a logical place for any website about any topic? Or was there anything else to it? (I would have assumed the former, but I don’t see the same concentration of successful
food sites in the Bay Area, say, or New York.)

bq. If you have any thoughts, or if you don’t mind telling the story of how Recipezaar came about one more time, I’d love to talk. E-mail works, but if phone is easier, my cell is [removed].

bq. Best wishes,

bq. Rebekah

bq. Rebekah Denn
Food Writer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

bq. eat all about it:

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