On Charlie Trotter
Last week, the restaurant industry lost one of its best when Chicago’s Charlie Trotter passed away at 54. Immediately the food and restaurant community showed its support online, with hundreds of Tweets and Facebook posts about Chef Trotter. This week, the community turned out en masse for his memorial service, echoing again the condolences and sharing happy memories of time spent with and craft influenced by the great chef.
Moments like these, exceptionally powerful but also too often sad, remind us of the immense power of social media. A thanks to a great chef and great man for all of his contributions to how we dine today, and a great thanks to all of his colleagues who took the time to share their thoughts, words, and memories with the world.
Fishing for Yelp’s Fake Reviews
Now that we all agree that fake reviews on Yelp do exist, it’s time to figure out a way to do something about them. Previously, Yelp and other third parties have taken plenty of steps to help sniff out what’s real and what’s not — from algorithms to actual fines for fake content. A new analysis of 3,625 Boston-area restaurants shows that, of the quarter of reviews flagged by Yelp as potentially fraudulent, 16 percent were, in fact, fake. This particular study goes a bit further, drawing conclusions about who cheats and why they do it. Surprise: restaurants with a poor showing (either no or few reviews, or too many negative ones) on Yelp are more likely to post non-legitimate reviews — either positive reviews of themselves, or negative reviews of competitors.
Clearly, this is not ground-breaking information, but here’s the thing: user-reviews (or fake reviews posing as user reviews) can make or break a small business’s success. It is imperative that, if these review sites continue to grow, they develop methods to truly weed out the offenders while leaving the genuine reviews alone. (Don’t even get me started about how they flag super-positive reviews on accounts of non-advertisers. They do, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Meet Sprig, in San Francisco
I know, I know. More food delivery in SF. But here’s the thing: San Francisco and the valley have always been pioneers of new technology, and when new technology is, as it is in this case, healthy and delicious — I say, here’s hoping this catches on nationwide. The latest: former Google executive chef Nate Keller will cook dinner for you (from quality, healthy ingredients) and have it delivered to your door. So bear with me on this tangent, please. The app is called Sprig, and for $12 per entree and a flat $3 tip/delivery fee, you can order dinner from your phone.
This is fascinating. Why? Because there’s nerdy excitement in bringing together two very different experiences (in this case, the digital experience of a mobile application and the analog-as-it-gets experience of eating). Figuring out how to best take advantage of technology to evolve a basic human function… pretty exciting to me.
High Tech at McDonalds
Last month, McDonalds named a Chief Digital Officer for the first time. His job: leading worldwide digital strategy while capitalizing on such trends as e-commerce and digital engagement with consumers. According to the AdAge profile, mobile will be a major focus of McDonalds (and other restaurants’) initiative. (Surprise! See above.)
On a completely different (but still technologically-inclined) note, McDonalds is also looking into using 3D printers to create its Happy Meal toys. Theoretically, this could allow the restaurant to print a toy of the child’s choice, though I don’t know many Happy Meal-aged kids with the patience to wait for a toy to come out of a 3D printer. Still, promising to see the big chains embracing technology. Exciting times.
The Frozen, Uncooked McRib
Speaking of McDonalds, a quick testament to the power of the internet: a friend-of-a-redditor posted this image of the “rib” portion of the McRib before it’s cooked. No comment necessary. Thank you, internet, for allowing literal crap like this to circulate so quickly, (hopefully) educating more on the ickiness of mass production in food. (Seriously, ew.)