10.15.2013: Mast Brothers + @Chef_Keller


Alton Brown + the Post-Its

Alton Brown is at it again with his own renegade style of Tweets. First noted in August, Alton doesn’t particularly enjoy Twitter, instead using the “analog” method of writing answers to Tweets on Post-it notes, photographing them, and posting them on his feed. While I’m still unclear about how this curious Twitter usage accomplishes anything other than creating more work, he has posted some interesting info. And I suppose you could argue that this unique style gives as much a look at his real personality as any chef responding to Tweets in kind.
A few interesting tidbits from today: his take on “personal branding,” a few tips on rice cooking (here and here), and some cornish game hen frying advice. Again: quirky and different, but he sees tons of engagement from his 650k+ followers per Post-it; probably as much (or maybe more) as he’d see responding organically. Probably not a bad method — at least he’s consistently entertaining. And, after all, this sort of entertainment is the reason this newsletter exists: big personalities + digital technology = awesome, sometimes hilarious content.



Thomas Keller for Mast Brothers

If you’re launching a cookbook, you might as well launch a f-ing cookbook. So it goes with Brooklyn-based Mast Brothers of Mast Brothers Chocolates, who are gearing up for a late October release. They explain the process in a quirky Vimeo video so well-suited to promote their image (they even give some … face time to their beards. Perhaps most awesome: Thomas Keller makes an appearance (he wrote the book’s foreword). In fact, he’s so excited about it, he promoted it via Tweet a few days ago.
Watch the video for a great digital representation of what Mast Brothers stands for, as well as additional cameos by Adrian Grenier, Frank Castronovo (of Frankies Spuntino), and Reggie Watts (love that guy.) Great stuff. In an increasingly noisy space, these sort of personality-driven digital promotions speak volumes on behalf of a chef, restaurant, or other endeavor.Illustration by April V. Walters



No More Anonymous Comments on Eater

Following a trend like many sites before it, Eater will no longer allow anonymous comments. According to Eater, it wants “to encourage the growth of a thoughtful and civil commenting community.” Which obviously means that they, like most of us, are fed up with ridiculous internet trolls. This topic has an especially strong parallel to chefs and restaurants since comments are, essentially, a direct feedback loop. Anonymous online chef- and restaurant-bashing provides no value — and at its worst could actually impact a restaurant’s bottom line. I’m glad Eater made this move, and I do hope it encourages a thoughtful and civil commenting community.



Cover, for Restaurant Check-Paying

Meet Cover: in an effort to simplify the restaurant experience (and reduce credit card fees incurred by restaurants), the just-launched New York startup allows users to pay for dinner through an app. Food + Tech Connect has a great profile of the service, founded by a former mobile payments lead at the Consumer Protection Bureau and a former AngelList venture hacker. The service is free for restaurants and diners, which means you can pay via credit card but the restaurant won’t have to worry about credit card fees. Restaurants have to be a member of the service to use Cover (so you can’t walk into any random spot to use it), but their growing list of New York restaurants includes some great spots (C+T favorite Empellon, for example.)
Most notably, as the FTC piece points out, the app was tested with real consumers to make it feel as natural as possible. This effort to seamlessly insert itself into the dining process could be a major point of differentiation in the mobile payments space, especially if they’re giving serious thought toward the experience (just as any savvy restaurateur would give serious thought to the full dining experience.) So far, Cover is only in New York, and plans to expand within the NYC scene first. Keep an eye on it; smart design plus ease of use could be a game-changer.



Explore What’s Ripe Nationwide with Epicurious’s Interactive Map

A few years ago, a tool this easy to use coming from a major media outlet would have been big news, though now it’s still super helpful (and interesting.) It’s a map of the US listing in-season produce on a state-by-state basis. And, since they’re Epicurious and have a massive store of food info and tested recipes, each in-season ingredient links to more information and recipes. Useful for information, and useful for in-season meal planning inspiration. (Minus a few points for using Flash, though. This thing would rock on the iPad.)



  • Mission Chinese delivers on the Lower East Side; takes orders online — Mission Chinese
  • If food people won Nobel Prizes — Bon Appetit
  • The McDonalds tasting menu, crafted entirely from menu items — Kottke.org
  • New! An amazing scratch-n-sniff wine book — Amazon

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