8.6.2013: #TFtestkichen / @AltonBrown


SF’s Michael Bauer: How Tech Culture Changed Dining

Lest you worry that San Francisco restaurant critic Michael Bauer’s state-of-bay-area-dining column last week reads just like every other “tech is killing San Francisco” article, the piece is actually an incredibly articulate and well-versed commentary on how technology and the tech scene has changed dining in restaurants. “The basic premise of restaurants have been among the businesses least affected by the Internet,” he starts. “After all, you can’t dine online.”
Bauer touches some actual new technology — iPads at host stands, online reservation systems — but the piece’s focus remains largely on how the restaurant industry has morphed to accommodate a changing clientele. Restaurants are creating bigger, more open spaces, for example. And they’re changing their layouts to accommodate diners who like to “live life publicly,” with large windows or facades that open directly to the street. Also among the noted changes: “restaurants as bars” with large bar-type areas that regularly serve food (my favorite kind!) and smaller menus and wine lists, allowingchefs and sommeliers to focus diners’ experiences.
Coming from a well-informed perspective covering SF dining for years and years, Bauer’s observations are interesting and, in my opinion, spot-on. Technology moves fast and changes plenty of aspects of the day-to-day restaurant experience; this is a lovely step back, observing larger sociological trends and how small changes have shaped greater concepts about eating out. Worth a (quick) read.



Tyler Florence’s Test Kitchen on Instagram

Embracing social media as a creative chef means plenty of new opportunities for innovation — and media-savvy Tyler Florence explores this with regularity. His latest win: #TFtestkitchen on Instagram, a series of photo posts with instructions details how to make tortellini — with great precision. Several great things at play here: first, he asks his fans which pasta they’d rather see, tortellini or ravioli. Then, he describes each step precisely, with helpful visual aid. The next day, he shows said tortellini in what looks like an insanely appetizing dish, complete with bacon. It’s social media marketing gold: engaging with fans and followers, giving them immediate, real-time gratification, and then following up the next day to remind followers of the great and useful content he’s posted.
Instagram’s less-than-ideal web interface makes these tricky to view online, so if you’re interested in a tortellini tutorial, images are here (though you’ll have to click through for the step-by-step instructions.) So well done.



Wired + Bon Appetit

Yesterday, two fantastically well-done magazines announced they’re teaming up for a fantastic special issue. Wired and Bon Appetit will collaborate on the topic, with both titles including the expanded food-plus-technology coverage in October issues. The idea started over lunch (naturally!), and won’t be the first time the tech-centric magazine has covered food (or the food-centric magazine has covered tech, for that matter.) Wired’s feature will focus on MSG and umami; Bon Appetit will publish accompanying recipes in collaboration with the Momofuku Food Lab. Both titles will share website and tablet content. Further proving that our interests don’t fit into the neat verticals covered by mainstream publishing, this sort of collaboration provides a full-circle look at food and technology, withs its real-world and practical implications. Exciting stuff.



Social Media Helps Farmers Avoid Food Waste

For all of its navel-gazing, sandwich-posting fluff, social media offers plenty of good, even in the food world. This sweet Voice of America story details how one farmer used social media to simply keep from wasting excess food — he posted leftovers for sale via Facebook each week, and patrons hungrily snapped up the produce, nearly eliminating food waste. The idea eventually evolved into Cropmobster, a site where those involved in food production, hunger relief, and anyone who wants to buy local produce can interact to buy, sell and donate — putting a huge dent in the problem of farm food waste (not to mention potential lost profits.) The best part of this feel-good story: it takes very little time, energy and money to create this marketplace. Yay, Internet!



NYT Farmers Market Recipe Generator

It’s National Farmers Market Week, and in honor of the all-important market (and late summer east coast produce), the NY Times/Mark Bittman created an interactive Farmers Market Recipe Generator, featuring some of Bittman’s favorite chef-created recipes organized by ingredient and preparation. You can search for a specific item of produce (berries; stone fruit; eggplant) or just use the “randomize” button for some seasonally appropriate, market-driven dishes. The tech behind this tool isn’t super-impressive, but the store of recipes the Times has at its disposal means for plenty of delicious browsing and inspiration by professionally-created recipes.



Alton Brown Tweets on Post-its

Alton Brown’s love-hate relationship with Twitter has made food blog headlines for years; he famously quit because of “low-life scumbags” a few years ago, only to return eventually…. on his own terms. His terms include posting Tweets and responses via Post-it note, stuck to his computer screen in precisely the place they’d appear in a legit Twitter timeline. At first look: not exactly being a good citizen of the digital conversation world.
But the fascinating thing is, fans are still reacting to his… unorthodox posting methods. While his stream reads like a long list of pic.twitter links (because that’s what it is,) fans and followers continue to interact with the Sharpied Post-it notes like this one. While this chefs+technology-loving lady would like to see him rejoin “real” Twitter, sharing his thoughts, ideas, commentary and hilarity on the Internet in any way is better than not sharing at all.



  • This week in social media hype: Brooklyn’s Ramen Burger — Gothamist and Eater
  • Agriculture is waiting on its Silicon Valley moment — Western Farm Press
  • The food industry develops a taste for tech. Great state-of-the-state piece — Crains New York
  • Social media makes it hard to surprise guests at restaurants — @SFChefs event
  • On using Google Glass for restaurant employee training — Food+Tech Connect

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