First and foremost, I will say that I don't want to restrict your creativity in any way, shape, or form. Your ideas are not only welcome but encouraged. Second, usability is very important to me: a very busy design where users have to go through hoops and loops to achieve what they want is not what I'm looking for. But then again, too simple is neither elegant nor attractive. Lastly, I already have a logo, so a site that follows the design elements of the logo (e.g. clean, crisp, lack of gradients/shadows) would work nicely.
With that said, I am looking for a clean, simple, and functional design for the homepage (but the basic layout and elements will need to carry over to the rest of the site). It needs to be dynamic but without being confusing. By dynamic I mean that somehow I'd like to showcase a different recipe or chef, or perhaps a season or occasion. It could be part of the main content area, the header banner, the background image, etc.
Other elements that need to be in the layout is a menu. I don't have everything set in what the menu items need to be, but let's start with Plan, Find, Cook, Account (and therefore, a link to log in somewhere), and Help. They don't all necessarily need to be at the same level. Each menu may have sub-menu elements. Again I'm open to how the menu and sub-menu are displayed (e.g. roll-over, on the left, etc). A search box is also important and needs to be fairly prevalent. Lastly, social networking elements need to be there (e.g. to showcase what your friends cooked and liked, etc).
This is as much of a guidance as I have. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask. And again, your ideas and creativity are highly encouraged! Once the contest is over, I'll be looking for further engagement moving forward to finish up the design and for other related design tasks (e.g. flyers, business cards, etc).