4.29.2014: #Worlds50Best / Menu Trends


The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

You can read about food until you’re blue in the face (and salivating heavily), but even with the best technology at your fingertips, there’s a wide delta between the act of reading about food and experiencing food. Thankfully, a bit of the experience is made better thanks to digital and social media — specifically, live food events.

Yesterday, The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants event was held in the UK. The sponsor-driven annual event recognizes the top 50 (plus more, really) restaurants around the world with a countdown-style event. Plenty of talent attends, making it quite a “who’s who” event. And this year, @TheWorlds50Best live-tweeted the countdown so those of us in far-flung locations learned the results at nearly the same time as everyone in the room.

Between the official Tweets, the chef Tweets, and the Tweets from fans around the world, the #worlds50best provided a real-time look at the festivities, not unlike coverage of the Oscars or Grammys or any other huge, entertainment-focused award show. And you can’t discount the post-show warm fuzzies from watching chefs and restaurateurs congratulate each other on their success. Good stuff.

(Related: This has become such an expected element of live shows that the James Beard Foundation published a good article about how to follow the upcoming Beard Awards online. Do it!)

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


No National Food Trends, Only Local

Restaurant menus are fascinating pieces of information; tastes and trends and new ideas published at a specific moment in time — preserving history, even. (If you’re into this, I recommend reading up on the NYPL’s menu archive project. I love it.) Food Genius is a company that set out to analyze restaurant menus nationwide, pinpointing trends, ingredients, ideas, or any other pattern information and sharing that data with clients — food manufacturers, mostly. But, after a year of archiving and analyzing data, Food Genius found there were no clear-cut national food trends — just local ones. So, instead, they’re releasing more specific data on a state and regional level to help clients make marketing and, perhaps, menu decisions.

I’m not looking forward to the day that any sort of big data dictates what ends up on a food menu… I think that creating a menu is the art of the chef who prepares it. But what is interesting is the ability to follow, track, or even pinpoint the beginning of a food trend (Bacon?) to a specific region or restaurant. To those in food production and marketing, this type of data can have real economic value. To someone like me who just likes to know and understand how people around the country eat, the fact that this sort of data even exists is fascinating.


Fresh Seafood Tweets

Thing that is awesome: @water2table, the Twitter account of a San Francisco-based restaurant seafood supplier. Instead of involving too many middlemen (as is the norm in fish-to-restaurant transactions), Joe Conte, who is Water 2 Table, works directly with restaurants to deliver the freshest seafood possible. That’s awesome on its own, but he’s also taken advantage of Twitter’s real-time ability to notify chefs and restaurants of current availability. That’s smart business, but also makes it fun for the rest of us to follow along.


Did you catch @Bourdain unapologetically snapping iPhone photos of prepared and plated food at Paul Bocusein Lyon on this week’s Parts Unknown? Love it!


What’s a Curated Restaurant Review?

There’s a new restaurant review app in town, and it aims to give you the most relevant data possible. Taste Savant offers “curated” reviews from pro-reviewers (yay!), chefs, trusted food bloggers, and, of course, your friends. Launched in LA, Chicago, Boston and New York, the app wants to help you, the diner, make informeddecisions about where and what to eat.

I think I like this. I believe the best reviews come from trusted sources with professional opinions, but throwing in friend recommendations for good measure keeps the suggestions relevant. (Truth: I’ll read all the reviews of a restaurant I can, but if it pops up on Foursquare Explorer as a spot a friend enjoyed, that’s what gets me in the door.) I see this as a step in a good direction — or at least cutting through all of the too-loud noise from Yelp and its ilk.


  • An interactive map of the best US cookbooks by region — Amazon
  • SF’s top 25 social restaurants according to Foodable — Foodable
  • An impressive illustrated look at the current food + tech landscape — Food+Tech Connect

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