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Compiling ingredients database - is this a good idea?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

As a cook, i have wondered where i could find all the information about food. The answer i got was something like :" There are not enough books and internet websites for you to search?". So i decided to create my own database, i searched a lot of programs and did a lot of testing in a lot of softwares. I even posted my question regarding databases here in chef talk.

A few weeks have passed and i would like to know your opinion on what i am about to begin.

I will make a excel sheet with thousands of ingredient informations. Each ingredient will have at least its name in 5 languages, their nutricional information, their description where i will put the most important information about them, their photo and a lot more info.

From all my books i gathered around 5500 different ingredients and a lot of information about them.

 

Once this excel sheet starts to get good  i will make a new one with recipes, that will work with the ingredients sheet, in order to have a more complex database.

After that i will make a new one that will work with menu engeneering, using all the previous sheets.

 

The objective in the end, is to gather the information of every city of every country of every continent all in one document/program

You can call me crazy but i dream on having all the information of global ingredients and recipes.

Probably its too extensive to do, but i just know that i need to start it.

 

Why excel? Because its the most versatile program that i know of. It can do everything i want and i still can personalize everything in it.

This project will take me many years to complete, but i hope to be able to share and be able to have the help of everyone in this forum.

 

I would like to know your opinion in this.

I will keep everyone up to date with the project if possible.

post #2 of 26

post #3 of 26

WOW, what a project!

 

I wonder whether EXCEL is the right program or maybe a relational data base [within the Office world  like ACCESS].  This is far beyond my food or programing skill set but from a query in a relational data base you could pull only the specific info you wanted or needed for some specialized spread sheet into something like an EXCEL spread sheet.

 

I think you have a life time project that should be done.

 

Good Luck.

post #4 of 26

Once this gets off the ground, the only rational next step would be an app for Droid, iOS, Windows and if it stil exists, Blackberry.

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot for taking your time to post your opinion on this.

I really apreciate the feedback :)

By the way Dave, this project in its final stage will be like an octopus, i will be able to use the database to do the best programs and applications so everyone can use.

At this moment i am still looking for some more information, so if any of you find any website with any important information would be really cool. Im now searching for ingredient names in different languages, because for now, i only have portuguese, english, spanish and latin.

After i get some ingredients settled i will be focousing in descriptions, yields, categories, nutricions and all the other information i have about them.

 

Once again, thanks a lot for you participation and interest :)

post #6 of 26
My suggestion, since you seem willing to invest some time in this, learn to work wiki software, and set one up. A Google search should pretty readily find sites where you can host it for free. You then make it accessible to others and have the possibility of receiving assistance in what is sure to be a pretty big job.
post #7 of 26

I agree with the previous poster, that Access might be a better program to make the data accessible once you have collected it. Excel is not a database, it's just a spreadsheet and it has its limitations. I think it will be very difficult for a user to pinpoint the information he or she is looking for among the many entrees on an endless spreadsheet. You're going to put a lot of effort into collating information, you want to be able to locate what you want once you've typed it all in. 

 

Of course, once it is in Excel, you could later dump the raw data into Access, if you decide you want to.

post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 

But can i transfer the info on my excel spreadsheet into acess? and vice-versa?

Because excel so far is offering all the things i need.

If i can export the data from acess database to an excel spreadsheet with personalized formatting i will consider learning acess.

 

Thanks

post #9 of 26

Access, or another database system, will definitely simplify searching and provide far more search alternatives.

 

In addition, a well designed database system allows for easy additions and deletions or combinations, something that may become cumbersome in a spreadsheet system.

 

Remember, Excel is NOT a relation based system, it is simply a flat file of tables. only a database manager, such as Access, provides relational development.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #10 of 26

Ive been reading this site for about a week now.  Home cook right now so I am not professional by any means.

 

I do know some about computers and I think a program that you can run on its own will be the best.  Problem with an access database as far as I know is you have to have MS Access to get to the database and Access is a pretty expensive program for the average user.

 

They have Microsoft sql which is a free database but don't know if that would be the same thing as access.  Not sure why you would have this program because you can pretty much "google" any ingredient and get a pic or anything you want to know about it.

post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 

I dont have and i dont understand anything about Acess. I will first make the list of the ingredients on excel and then i can copy paste to any other database software.

I am doing this in excel because it will be easier to organize all the information. After that i can think where to place all the information.

I will be posting the excel document in a few days so you can see what it looks like.

And if its possible i will create an official thread about this project, where i will update the document and inform everyone about the its progress.

 

Once again, thanks for making me think twice :)

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pal251 View Post

Not sure why you would have this program because you can pretty much "google" any ingredient and get a pic or anything you want to know about it.

There are plenty of ingredients that are very difficult to find useful, verifiable information on.

I still contest excel/access is limiting yourself and potential users. A wiki offers more flexibility with categorizing, depth of information, collaborative editing, and is just plain easier for users. My 62 year old mother can browse a wiki on her phone.
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 

As i said, first i will insert the information on excel. After that i can copy paste the information to anywhere.

Excel will give me a huge help when i start working with food cost and menu engeneering.

post #14 of 26

it's certainly a project that will keep you busy for a few thousand years.

 

if you haven't found it, the USDA has an extensive database with nutritional values per ingredient.  I'd point you  to it directly, but as the USA is closed, all the sites seem to be non-functional at the moment.  I rather suspect that other countries have developed similar databases.

 

if I understand correctly, once you have every food substance identified and all nutritional data collected, the intention is to incorporate that information into recipe(s) so that the user has the complete nutritional information about that recipe.

 

then, going to the next step, creating a "menu" of all possible recipe combinations so the user knows if they go to a restaurant and order Menu X they will know all the nutritional information about the "food" that appears on their table at that establishment.

 

I can foresee a few problems.

 

to identify every ingredient used as a foodstuff in the entire whole wideworld is I suppose technically possible.  big job, but possible.


example:  "flour" is not "four" - there's all kinds of flours, and there's all different "standards" not only as to what they are called but the actually technical / milling specifications.

then there's a bit of a problem that recipes written for (for example) "flour Type X" will not work well without some skilled adjustment when using "different standard Type Z flour"

oh, the density issues.....  some of the colonists still use "cups" for dry measure; and good luck getting more than one person to agree with how many grams = one cup of Type A through Z flour; and then there's the German DIN and then the French system and . . . .

 

next problem - linguistics.  it's not referred to by the same name / concept in many places.  you'll need at least 20-25 "fields" for the "common name" and some really good programming to sort out the "sounds like" stuff.  latin names for plants is seriously more popular in Europe, which has been dealing with a "language" problem since Adam invited Eve out to dinner and a tumble.

 

next problem:  exceedingly few "recipes" are exactly the same and exceedingly few actual preparations are the same from place to place or language to language.  start with "Sheppard's Pie" and it's all downhill from there.  so, after presenting the user with 5-several hundred variations of "the same recipe/dish" the program must allow the user to enter and store and backup the user's personal preferences.

 

next problem:  the combination number of food items that could appear in a "menu" probably exceeds the number of zeros available on the planet.

 

good luck and keep us posted!

post #15 of 26

Before you proceed much further, I suggest you check out the multitude of recipe management software currently available. A good start would be http://wwww.mastercook.com among many others.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dillbert View Post
 

the French system

 

What's the French system? In my experience we mostly just weigh things in France. 

post #17 of 26

French Type 45 = German Din 405 =+/- USA "pastry flour"=UK "soft flour" aka "instant flour"

etc

etc

 

some are standardized on ash content; some by protein content; some by "anything you want to call it"

 

cooking ingredients are not a real cut&dried topic that fits into binary logic all that well.

post #18 of 26

Ah yes Ash content sorry I thought you were talking about measuring. 

post #19 of 26

GREAT idea .. the only thing that I would suggest is collaboration. It's going to be a mammoth task and I'd say you were crazy to attempt it on your own.  Use google docs and get a group together on the task...

post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately i dont have permission to insert attachments, otherwise i would post the the excel document so you can see what it will be like.

Here is a picture of on of the ingredient information on excel.

 

 

Remember, this is not my final place to store or work the database, excel will be used to simplify the work of inserting data.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post
 

Before you proceed much further, I suggest you check out the multitude of recipe management software currently available. A good start would be http://wwww.mastercook.com among many others.

 

 

I tried mastercook before and it doesnt give me more flexebility to work with the information. I can do everything it does on excel and much more, plus the most important i can insert and extract information much faster.

 

I know that, that are a lot of types of simple food, this is just the start, i will be able to make the database more complex while i will be facing those problems.

Because i cant create or buy the perfect software that have all the options that i want i will do this in excel because i can always add another type of information without needing to change the entire database.

Its like if i am using excel just because i can add any kind of information where i want without needing of functions or buttons.

 

Once again, thanks for your support, i'm debating with myself to make the best decisions about the project and without you i wouldnt consider so many aspects.

post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 

I would like to ask permission to any moderator or admin to start a new and official thread where i will be posting every information about the progress of the project. It will have all the project goals, their progress, and some adicional information. I would like to be able to make wekkly updates on the progress of the project. But since i have this thread active i feel like i need to ask permission to start a new one.

 

Thanks

post #22 of 26

I hope you learn to cook also.

post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Explorer 13 View Post
 

I hope you learn to cook also.

UMMM, what?

post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Explorer 13 View Post
 

I hope you learn to cook also.

 

This project is my hobby, i work as a cook for almost 10 years now. At the moment i am a cook in a  five star resort. I dont understand why you say that. This is just a way for me to keep gastronomy around me a few more hours each day.

post #25 of 26

I'll be starting a project based on this soon, more like a service that can be hooked up to various applications but a central source of detailed information about ingredients and substances. If you want I can keep you posted!

post #26 of 26

I haven't read every word in the comments, but I say. 

 

Ya'know, We would love to have a looksie at this database. 

 

Care to post your progress?

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