With online competition for eyeballs intensifying, Web portal Yahoo Inc. (YHOO ) is launching a new site devoted to food that will feature videos and other content from celebrity chefs such as Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart.

Yahoo Food is set to launch Thursday, the first major offering from the company's Lifestyles group, based in Santa Monica.

"People are searching the Web and Yahoo every day for life's biggest question — what's for dinner?" said Deanna Brown, general manager of Yahoo Lifestyles.

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Yahoo has been trying to overcome slowing financial growth that has been giving investors a serious case of indigestion. The company's stock price is down by 34 percent so far this year.

Rival companies such as Google Inc., (GOOG) which recently purchased the video site YouTube, have been aggressively adding video content to attract advertisers looking for alternatives to traditional media outlets.

Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, has so far relied on video content from major media companies rather than the kind of homemade fare found on YouTube and the social-networking site MySpace, which is owned by News Corp. (NWS)

Yahoo started its media division several years ago to produce more original content as well as license material on a variety of topics, including finance, entertainment, music, sports and games.

Financial arrangements with Yahoo Food content providers were not disclosed. The site will offers advertisers such as Kraft (KFT), Masterfoods USA, Diageo (DEO) and Lending Tree the ability to provide exclusive content and marketing opportunities.

Most of the content will come from partners, including Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO), Wolfgang Puck, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Food & Wine, Epicurious, Cook's Illustrated and Reader's Digest (RDA).

There will also be original content, including an online video show called "Cheap and Easy" and contributions on regional cuisine from 13 columnists from around the country.

A database of thousands of recipes will be available through a partnership with allrecipes.com.

The idea for the site came from the 1.5 million food-related searches on the site each day, most of which come around 4 p.m., Brown said.

Yahoo Food aims to hold people's attention after they have found a recipe by offering cooking demonstration videos and lavish photography and layout that Brown refers to as "food pornography."

Brown co-founded Epicurious, one of the earliest food Web sites, which is owned by magazine publisher Conde Nast.