Attention foodies - there's a new cooking show on Google+. Lee Allison, who is a technology consultant by trade, had the great idea of utilizing the Google Hangouts feature on the platform to host a cooking show. The show is called Google+ Cooking School and has already included delicious-looking dishes like Hand-rolled Portobello Ravioli, Citrus Salmon with Mango Chutney and Oriental Green Beans, and Savory Crepes.
Although Allison is not a professionally trained chef, he told us that he has always had a passion for cooking. However, he does not enjoy cooking for people. He believes that cooking should take place in a social environment. So, when he got on Google+ and began to play with Hangouts with his good friend and fellow foodie Eric McKee, he said it didn't take long to develop the idea for the Google+ Cooking School.
"As soon as I got into it, it was a light bulb moment," said Allison. "I realized that's what we needed to be utilizing to teach people how to cook."
"It was one of those real eureka moments, and it happened almost the second we got into the Hangout," he added.
The show has taken off rather quickly and has already established a following. Allison conducts the classes in his own kitchen with two cameras, one for capturing a close-up angle of the stove, chopping block, or other in-depth procedure he is working on, and the second camera for getting an overall shot of the process.
The biggest challenge for Allison and McKee is the fact that, at this point, Google only allows 10 people to be a part of a Hangout. It makes for a cozy kitchen but makes for some great limitations for a hopeful startup. To handle this challenge, the Google+ Cooking School has tried to keep the classes very frequent. They have taken place on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday basis, but Allison told us that they plan on varying the times up.
They have also partnered with Hangout Party, which streams the Google Hangout to their site so that more people can watch the show. Allison said they plan to work more with this site.
Just as Steve Rubel and others recently shared with us, Allison and McKee are also hoping that Google will raise the limit on the number of people that can attend a Hangout. Until that time, however, they plan on working with what they have.
Their methods have seemed to be effective so far because they have already launched the concept into a business. They created a website called The Social Skillet that will archive all the free cooking classes after they air on Google+. In addition, they will offer special skills classes with prices starting at $20 per class to help fund the venture.
At this point, their business model is the typical tech startup motto of "build it and they will come." They plan to offer more skills classes and will likely incorporate advertising in the future. Allison was quick to point out that they would never have a site that was overrun with advertising. He said that content would always be the most important and most prominent aspect of The Social Skillet.
"Two months into it, we have an idea of what we think the business model should be like," said Allison. "Every single day, we're taking that, and we're testing it against what is the reality of the marketplace. So, it's absolutely a work in progress."
Despite figuring out the ins and outs of monetization, Allison and McKee are excited about their startup. And you have to admit, their idea is pretty impressive.
Allison told us that they were not on the level of Le Cordon Bleu or anything, but that they thought they could reach an audience aimed at mom n' pops and families.
"We think that's a niche in the market that has a huge amount of potential, and we're looking forward to exploring it," he said.