AOL takes a bite: New food section’s savory services go live

Tina Sharkey is smart. She was smart at Sesame Street Workshop back in the mid ’90s when she pioneered the concept of lapware–online experiences for the little kids and their moms–and she was smart at iBeauty.com in the later ’90s during the boom. She may be smartest of all now that she’s been at AOL for almost a year, developing coherent and interesting services under the rubric “life management” from what was a hodgepodge of mostly little-traffics channels (in relation to the traffic to other areas of AOL.)
What makes Tina smart today? Food. Specifically, being the first executive at AOL to recognize and launch food as a new platform for AOL. While it might seem that following on the successes of The Food Network, scores of food and shelter magazines, and Time Inc magazine partners’ food content was a no-brainer, the reality is that upgrading the food area is a concept that was bouncing around AOL for at least a year before hand, but nobody seemed to have the chops to make it happen.
The new food section(KW: Food) –available only to AOL subscribers–is good enough to give Epicurious a run for its money, if AOL remembers to give it the internal promotion it will take to show members that this spiffy new service exists.
I haven’t made AOL Food a habit yet (using a channel on AOL is not something I usually do), but I could get pretty comfortable with the Recipe Ideas area, where the focus is on planning menus. Recipe search and recipe search results pages invite you to print the recipe out in various sizes, a fantastically useful feature; you can also email or IM the recipe, or add it to your recipe file or favorite menu list. Recipes are from Time Inc properties–Real Simple, Southern Living, Sunset, Cooking Light, and Coastal Living seem to be the data set (tried to find InStyle recipes–couldn’t.) Food Talk is the community area–mostly message boards right now, but if Tina and her team continue to be smart, they will plug food blogs in in a big way (oh, in AOL-ese, I mean AOL Journals with a foodie focus).