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The right recipe

The right recipe

Alayna Yates '24 April 23, 2024

Alayah Harris has a sweet tooth. Pies, cakes, desserts — she loves everything sweet. It wasn’t until her first semester at UD that she discovered her taste for savory stuff, too. Through that fusion and because of her newfound passion for cooking, she created the app The Recipe Book.

This spring, the junior communication major won the 2024 Launch It: Cincy pitch competition with it. 

Alayah stands in front of a group of people seated at a table in a conference room.Thanks to the competition, three winning undergraduate students will spend their summer learning from experts and putting their ideas together with professionals in Cincinnati.

Harris’ interest in the competition started with a campus presentation by representatives from Main Street Ventures, the host of the competition and a nonprofit that helps young entrepreneurs. They  visited Harris’ Entrepreneurial Experience class at a time when she was trying to decide what she wanted her future to look like. 

“I thought I would give it a try,” Harris said. “I brainstormed the rest of that week, and I didn’t know what else to do. One night, I was in my kitchen on the phone with my grandmother, and I realized that I had developed this passion for cooking.”

“I was in my kitchen on the phone with my grandmother, and I realized that I had developed this passion for cooking.” 

Although she changed her major from entrepreneurship to communication management, Harris still pursues certificates in marketing and looks forward to developing her app this summer with the MSV team. 

She will be commuting weekly beginning in June to Cincinnati, where she’ll workshop and build her app throughout the summer. The app has features that are perfect for college students, she said. Full of recipes, the app features some meals that are family staples and others that Harris has discovered herself.

Alayah stands next to a sign that reads Launch It: Cincy“There’s some that I remember my grandmother making — hamburgers and gravy over rice — that’s her signature go-to,” Harris said. “Then, there’s some I found online. I just found honey lemon butter rosemary baked wings. I’ve learned how to adapt those [recipes] so I can make them in the air fryer or I can make them in a toaster oven.”

Adaptability is a key component for college students, Harris said. The app is set up so users will be able to login and select the appliances they have available. This was a priority, Harris said, because college students who live in dorms may have only an air fryer, while those in houses or apartments may  have ovens and stoves.

“Being at school and being in the student neighborhood, you don’t have a meal plan. You’re kind of on your own.”

“So I thought that the process of figuring out how to cook for myself, how to grocery shop and what recipes work was a good idea for the app,” Harris said.

When she brought her idea to the pitch competition, the judges asked her why she didn’t offer food delivery services in the app. Harris said this was intentional; instead, her app will offer students the opportunity to learn more about food preparation.

“I think that a major part of me learning how to cook was going to the grocery store and knowing what to get,” Harris said. “I have a section in the app where you are able to learn how to make your grocery list, find prices and know what stores carry which things.”

With an already long list of helpful features for the app, Harris said she is excited to keep developing her idea and expanding upon it. 

Once the app is finished, Harris said she’s looking forward to cooking up partnerships with other Ohio universities. But, she’ll start right here at home with UD, of course.

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