11.18.2014: The Melt / Eater Awards


A Big Hire for Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’s Ticketing System

A top Google engineer is leaving the company to join the now-growing Chicago-based restaurant ticketing system led by chef Grant Achatz and business partner Nick Kokonas. Brian Fitzpatrick, Google’s first Chicago-based engineer, will join the group as CTO.

“ I decided I didn’t want to advise people on this. I wanted to do this. I think this is the future of restaurants,” Fitzpatrick says, after noting that he was first asked to help vet engineering talent for the project. Achatz’s Chicago restaurants use the ticketing system, as do others around the country; New York’s Aldea and San Francisco’s Coi, among them. Diners pre-pay for their meal and reserve a time; prices can be adjusted by date, time, or demand.

illustration by April V. Walters



Woo! The Latest Eater Awards!

Eater has been killing it with coverage of the restaurant scene around the country lately, amirite? Last night, Eater held its annual awards in New York, and among the country-spanning categories, two near and dear to my chefs+tech loving heart: LA’s Roy Choi as “Twitter Personality of the Year,” and Chicago’s Rick Bayless winning “Tightest Instagram Game.” @RidingShotgunLA celebrated the award by potentially deciding to quit Twitter (don’t!), while yogi Rick Baylessseemed pretty stoked for the honor.


Cheese and Bread and… NASA?

How high-tech can a sandwich get? Apparently far more high-tech than I once thought. California grilled cheese chainThe Melt makes a great sandwich, but is now expanding its offerings to include burgers and chicken sandwiches plus fries and macaroni and cheese sides (these are clutch, honestly.) Even techier, as stores begin to reopen with the new menu and new look, they’ll include “in-store ordering kiosks” and something called “The Smart Box,” a sandwich carrier for catering events designed to keep sandwiches at the appropriate level of gooey until served. This, apparently, was developed with NASA, somehow. Perhaps most exciting: The Melt already lets customers order ahead and pick up orders in-store, but soon they’ll add a geo-locating technology that will alert the store when you’re getting close so they know to prepare your order for optimum enjoyment. I suppose the key to the perfect melted cheese sandwich really is in the timing.


Was Gordon Ramsay’s Latest Opening Sabotaged by Bogus Reservations?

Jealous, much? (Or, paranoid, much?) On opening night of Gordon Ramsay’s newest London restaurant, 100 “reservations” no-showed, leaving just 40 legit reservations on the books. The outspoken Ramsay didn’t mince words on a UK talk show, either, saying, “”I think there’s all that level of envy. Saturday was our first big day opening (of Heddon Street Kitchen). We had 140 on the books and we had 100 no show. So someone’s literally online…” …presumably, making false reservations. For his part, he didn’t say who he thinks it was, though it seems he probably has a good idea. (I wonder how often this kind of thing happens?)



…to The B Team, a solid blog with great food and recipe coverage from Bobby Flay’s assistants who work with him on cookbooks, shows, projects, product development, and more. The site is a good mix of news, recipes, and new products. Worth a look!



  • Ha. Check it: Seatzly, the new reservations app from The Infatuation — The Infatuation
  • 10 food-related startups in Boston — via @LocalFoodLab
  • The NYT’s digital Thanksgiving Cooking special is pretty great — NYTimes

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