December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Calling all cooks

By Nicole Grasse, T.J. Becker

Editor in Chief

Whether its customers happen to be gourmet chefs striving for the perfect hollandaise or college students majoring in scrambled eggs, Cooking.com runs a kitchen open to all.

What they’ll find is a strong search engine that allows customers to look for a product, recipe or brand, along with retrieving cooking tips and gift ideas. Founded by former Disney executives David Hodess and Tracy Randall, the site opened in 1998 as a one-stop shop for culinary aficionados and wannabes.

Harley Manning, an analyst at Forrester Research, praises Cooking.com for “understanding how people like to shop.” A spic-and-span, well-organized home page offers various ways to move through the site. Photos download quickly with merchandise described in detail, including inventory availability. What’s more, the buy button is never hard to spot.

Cooking.com’s comprehensive catalog of brand-name products is enriched by information-which ranges from culinary tips and terms to recipes and product advice. All of this takes a tone of authority, with content written by chefs, cookbook authors and restaurateurs. The Chef’s Roundtable gives shoppers access to original articles and recipes from elite cooks.

More unique content is on the front burner: Cooking.com has entered a partnership with culinary expert Burt Wolf to update his book, The Cook’s Catalogue, online.

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