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Two Smithies' Summer of Food

Corinne Fay ’08 and Samantha Chaplin ’10 look through recipes at

It sounds like a dream job: poring through hundreds of recipes to find the ideal flavor combinations to match readers’ tastes, tendencies and moods.

That basically describes how Samantha Chaplin ’10 spends her days this summer as a Praxis intern for, a food and cooking Web site launched last year and based in Washington, D.C. and Montague, Mass.

“My typical day at work consists of reading recipes, entering them into our database, and analyzing and tagging recipes. Also, eating a great lunch!”

Chaplin works at Cookthink alongside Corinne Fay ’08, who was hired by the company following her May graduation.

The two Smith women learned about the company last January during an Interterm course in the Jacobson Center on food journalism led by Chip Brantley, co-founder of Cookthink, whom they met during the course. Fay began as an intern this summer and was subsequently hired as a Web production assistant.

Cookthink aims to answer the question, “What are you craving?” Its well-organized database stores thousands of recipes and food combinations in an easy-to-use reference called the Recipe Mapping Project. From the Cookthink home page, users simply type in to a search function the flavors, ingredients or foods they like to combine, and a list of recipes with handsome images appears. From there, users can click on the thumbnail images to access the full recipes from the basic to the exotic.

Braised chicken with black beans and sweet potato. Thai shrimp, coconut and mushroom soup. Black bean burrito with Portobello mushrooms and spinach. Grilled pineapple with buttered rum sauce. Those are a fraction of the recipes available on the Recipe Mapping Project.

For Chaplin and Fay, the summer working at Cookthink has been an intense but fun learning experience.

“Working at Cookthink is great,” said Fay. “There is so much to do and everything happens very fast. It's exciting. Also, every day is a little bit different. It's totally different from any other job I've had. There is a lot to learn and a lot to do.”

Chaplin will soon resume her studies toward a major in American studies and studio art, but she will return to Smith with new skills and knowledge—not to mention a whole new source of great recipes. “I’ve learned a ton about how a Web-based company works, as well as the mechanics of developing a tool that is functioning and accessible for its users,” she said.

8/14/08   Eric Sean Weld
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