Bobby Flay’s Yogurt Commercial
Sigh, commercialism. While I’ll never hate on someone’s methods of making money, a celeb blatantly shilling for a company leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Doubly so when it’s a chef and that bad taste is food. Yesterday, surely over-commercialized celebrity Chef Bobby Flay posted a near-neverending series of Tweets promoting FAGE yogurt (if you’re keeping score, he also appears in its TV commercials). He shared his favorite flavor (blueberry). He explained its versatility. (Cook with it! Million-dollar idea!) He even pimped out his daughter for the cause.
Almost immediately, he received follower backlash on Twitter, even prompting a Digiday profile of the “crackup.” And with good reason. On a platform famous for authenticity and real connections, this total lack of authenticity and real connection is jarring to the reader — you’re not confusing anyone, chef. Twitter ads don’t bother me, but these blurred lines certainly do. Stick to the food, please.
The New York Public Library’s Awesome Menu Archive Project
The most exciting thing I’ve read all week: the New York Public Library is working on a project to transcribe and digitally archive its collection of historically important menus. In fact, they’re calling for volunteers to help with the transcription process. So far, over one million menu items have been transcribed, comprising 17,000 menus. In addition to transcribing, they’re geo-tagging menus to include original locations, creating a searchable, historic culinary resource. The project — which has been going on for some time, so I’m not sure how I’ve missed it for so long — will archive 45,000 menus when completed — such a cool way to see how some of the most historic hotels and restaurants across the country served their patrons. (I looked up a 1908 menu from San Francisco — lots of cold cuts.)
Kudos to NYPL Labs, who organized these efforts, and a serious thank you to the early 20th century library patron who started collecting them on the library’s behalf. Too cool.
Food & Wine’s “Top Chef” Fantasy League
The 11th season of “Top Chef,” set in New Orleans, premiered last week, and along with it, a smart play by Food & Wine: a “Top Chef” fantasy league a la fantasy football. The roster ranks contestants by a variety of criteria: work experience, cooking style, and wild-card line items (having great hair is one of them.) F&W awards points to cheftestants after each week’s performance, enabling you to score your lineup. The competition doesn’t have sports league-esque online support, so it’s up to you and your TC-loving friends to duke it out — for now. Here’s hoping season 12 brings some innovative digital support.
Restaurant Recommendations Based on Facebook Likes
In case you’re looking for a good restaurant recommendation that’s been vetted by at least 250 of your peers, it exists. The just-launched One-Hundred Tables aggregates (a shocking) 100 restaurant recommendations in eighteen cities based on their number of Facebook Likes. Restaurants with at least 250 Likes are eligible, and you can search restaurants by cuisine — always helpful. Interesting concept, and probably pretty easy to execute. Good for traveling to a new place. But I can’t imagine the “discovery” feature is all that useful in your own city. I mean, if a restaurant is already popular enough to receive 250 Facebook Likes, wouldn’t a savvy diner have heard of it by now? We’ll see how this one does. Since it’s built on top of Facebook’s data, it could fare well — especially for recommending much-loved places in unfamiliar territory.
More on Instagram Food Photos
Remember that widely-circulated study that confirmed that looking at photos of food on Instagram could make you hungry, and, therefore, gain weight? (Looking at food makes you want food. Shocker.) Apparently there’s a limit — a new study says that looking at too many food photos can help you lose weight. Why? Overexposing your eyes to food photos causes “sensory boredom,” therefore making you bored with the food on your plate. Yes, looking at too many photos of cheeseburgers will make you less excited about cheeseburgers — similar to how eating a cheeseburger every day for a week will eventually turn you off to cheeseburgers.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend looking at Instagram photos to lose weight, but I suppose the theory makes sense. That said, I bet this sort of food-photo fatigue could be combated with actual quality food photography. I never get bored looking at those.