10.1.2013: #StarStruck / Breaking Bad


#StarStruck by Michelin Guide

Today, Michelin revealed its New York starred restaurants, both by phone to the chefs and restaurants and on Twitter, using the… interesting hashtag, #StarStruck. When you think about it, it makes sense… right? I’m undecided if it’s totally smart or totally silly, but there are plenty of people with their own opinions. Eater’s Lockhart Steele thinks it’s an abomination, while starred chefs like Mario Battali and April Bloomfield don’t seem to mind.

This could be interpreted as a lesson in the importance in choosing the right words, especially when limited to 140 characters on Twitter. The Michelin Guide is a fairly highly-regarded operation, and with that almost-flip #StartStruck hashtag, it could be perceived as cheapening its image. Then again, we’re talking about a guide whose Twitter avatar is the giant, fluffy, cartoon-like Michelin Man, so who knows if they’re really going for sophisticated branding here. At any rate, its Twitter messaging should be on tone with the level of eliteness its stars represent, and at the end of the day, I’d have to agree with @Lock’s assessment of the situation.

(In case you’re curious: full list of NY stars here.)


Pulse of the City Data Viz

Last week, Foursquare shared some interesting and very well done data visualizations from several cities around the world. Comprised of check-in data in New York, London, Chicago, Istanbul, San Francisco, and Tokyo, the animated maps represent a year’s worth of Foursquare check-ins.

Moving lines represent a person moving from one spot to the next, resulting in a “pulse of the city” visualization — which seems an accurate description. Also interesting, the differences from city to city: commuters in London, late-night revelers in New York, worker bees in San Francisco, and more. They’re also fun to watch on a loop.

(For more quantified-self type data — this stuff is rad! — check out this SF vs. NY comparison from Chronos, a company focused on showing users exactly how they’re spending their time. Lots of good restaurant data here.)

illustration by April V. Walters
illustration by April V. Walters


The TV Effect

Could the Breaking Bad finale possibly make it into a newsletter about chefs and technology? Yep! (Disclosure: I don’t watch, but who can miss the zillion references over the past few days in the press, on social media, and on the street. Seriously.) As it relates to my interests, plenty of chefs got in on the Sunday night action. First,Alton Brown attempts to claim Sunday night as his own for his show, Cutthroat Kitchen. (Pretty sure it was no 10mm viewers, but valiant effort. Then there’s Alex Guarnaschelli, who loves to tweet about pop culture, but really went for it with no less than ten Tweets about the show. (Most have since been deleted.) Even Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien chimed in. (That one’s been deleted too, so you’ll have to trust me on it. What’s up with that, guys? Don’t be embarrassed!)

These relatively small moments beg a bigger question: I wonder what effect big pop-culture events, like the Breaking Bad finale, have on the restaurant industry? Is there some sort of way around this with digital? Is it better to ignore them or embrace them? (I went to a New York bar/restaurant to watch every episode of LOST for years — I’ll remember it well, even for its unremarkable grill food.) Thanks to the honest and personal connection digital and social media offers, events like these can be a real opportunity for chefs and restaurants on social, even for those followers who may not watch along.


Oh Look, Another Bay Area Food Delivery Startup

Fluc, dubbed a “Lyft for food” by Techcrunch “expanded” this week after a summertime launch. Its delivery area now includes (wait for it….) Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, and San Francisco.

You guys. This is the third startup of its kind that I’ve written about in the Bay Area in the last two months. The idea is smart: order food from a restaurant that doesn’t deliver, have food delivered. We get it. Seriously. Now when I want food from pretty much anywhere, I can use one of, like, fifteen services to get it. You know who else might want it? My mother-in-law in Kansas City (hi Susan!) or my family in Pennsylvania or the millions living in rural areas in the country or maybe people who can’t go out to get food in their own areas for whatever reason.

I love technology and I love my home, but it’s time for food delivery startups (and others, but that’s a story for a different day) to think beyond the NorCal bubble.


Photo-Driven Social Networking + Restaurants

The American Express Restaurant Briefing — an industry must-read — recently published a great primer on photo-driven social networking as it applies to restaurants.

The piece focuses on Instagram and Pinterest, calling out a few notable best-practice examples (including New York City’s Empellonas seen previously on C+T). A Cleveland restaurateur creates one Vine per day for each of her restaurants, featuring anything from menu items to the view behind the bar. Other restaurants create pages on Pinterest for easy reference from their own websites. Sharing photos and videos, whether or not they “go viral” and cause a stir, gives potential patrons a real sense of the place — from what to expect decor-wise to the general attitude and personality behind the food. Keep doing this, guys!


  • USDA website goes dark with government shutdown — USDA
  • The dairy barn of the future — Modern Farmer
  • Twitter reactions to Barilla’s homophobic stance — GrubStreet
  • Study says 16 percent of Yelp restaurant reviews are fake — Eater

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