MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2008 (#36)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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PROFILE THREE CATS AND A MAC > CAN YOU SMELL WHAT 3CAAM IS COOKING? When I asked Tony Cate, owner of Three Cats and a Mac <> and inventor of A Cook's Books Recipe Manager and Nutritional Reference, how his company and revolutionary cooking tool all came about, he laughed, lowered his voice secretively, and said, "Completely by accident." But while his beginnings as an entrepre- neur may not have had the most dramatic start, the results of the project he began because "I wanted to learn how to program on a Mac and I have a hard time learning unless I'm doing something of interest to me," have more than made up for it. A Cook's Books is not only one of the most unique tools on the market, it is also one that, in these nutritionally troubled times, makes finding and fixing healthy meals a snap for everyone from busy parents to singles who don't want to spend a lot of time and energy on dinner for one. Simply put, A Cook's Books is a recipe storage system that allows users to scale recipes up or down by amount or servings, track the nutritional value of meals, plan meals for up to four weeks, and, best of all, allow users to find recipes using a feature that can search on multiple criteria, such as ingredients, author, publication, and course. Meanwhile, for those who love the idea but hate the thought of having to type all of their recipes into a computer, A Cook's Books is loaded with easily accessible pull- down ingredient menus as well as the capability to import recipes quickly from most online recipe programs. Cate admits that when he first developed the tool it was more for his own use. As someone who liked to cook as a hobby, Cate had acquired quite a number of cookbooks as well as hand written recipes copied from magazines or other sources. All of this paper was hard to keep up with, and he spent a lot of time looking for this or that particular recipe. Another issue was that, because he liked to experiment, he would generally "do it exactly by the book the first time, and then change it. All of my recipes changed over time and I had handwritten notes in the margins and things crossed out and they would get harder and harder to read." Therefore, he combined his need to organize his recipes with his need to learn how to program on a Mac and the initial version of A Cook's Books was the result. Pleased with the tool, he showed it to a couple of friends who immediately encouraged him to sell it. Still thinking of it more as a hobby he put it on the Web and sold it for $10 because "it was fairly minimal at that time." To Cate's surprise, the tool not only sold well, but his initial customers "began giving me ideas (on how to expand it) so I modified it and now it's a fairly robust program – and the price has gone up," he added. Joking aside, A Cook's Books is worth every penny of the $39.95 it currently costs ($99.95 will get you a lifetime license) and its success has inspired Cate to work toward retiring early so that he can devote all of his time to 3CAAM. He is working on Version II of A Cook's Books, which is being tested right now and should be out within the year. He also has a couple of other projects in mind, but they will have to wait until he gets to a point where he is working for 3CAAM full time. Another thing that will have to wait is a PC version of the tool. Some customers have inquired about this, but Cate says he does not see that happening any time soon. It is mainly a time issue, but there is also some personal preference involved. "I am a longtime Apple user, I've always had the Apple II or MacIntosh, and it is the best computing platform in the world." As for the cats, there are still three, and they are still trying to learn object oriented code, but have not quite mastered it. Cate has since moved to a new day job. "I ended up leaving the company I was working for when I wrote my initial tag line (about hoping my boss didn't visit the Web site) and every other company I've worked for hasn't had an issue. In fact this has helped me get jobs, because (the employers) knew I had some programming background." A Cook's Books Recipe Manager and Nutritional Reference can be purchased online at <>. WORDS BY JONE DEVLIN

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