Who Pays for Good Food Writing?
In an age where everyone and their mom goes into food writing (and some of us always dreamt of being the Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet, may it rest in peace), it’s about time somebody tackled the brutal reality of the economics of the thing. Bottom line: it’s extremely difficult to get people to pay you to write about food today, an ironic truth given the extreme popularity of the subject in digital, TV, and just about every other channel of content today. Bryan Curtis for The Ringer does an astute if depressing deep dive into why this is, citing Los Angeles critic Jonathan Gold as the gold standard for food writers in 2018 (Peter Meehan says “if you’re not imitating [him], you’re not doing a very good job”).
Gold famously suggested that food now occupies the cultural airspace once devoted to music — we love that. But, the entire piece does ring true as it catalogs the list of exceptional writers who cover food and the aspirations we all have to, you know, see our 20,000 words in The New Yorker. It’s about time somebody surfaced the fact that, with hiring freezes in print publishing and branded content the wave of the future, there are very few opportunities to hone your craft square on… and pay the bills. And so, we look to the future, pen-in-hand, and thank Curtis for a) stating the obvious and b) reminding us it’s time to think outside the box. Be the change you want to see, my friends.
NOT FAKE NEWS
Despite the Waves of Recent Mishaps, Uber Bounces Into Restaurant Management
It’s been a rough few weeks for the crisis communications team at our (least) favorite ride sharing app, but the product team has continued to crank, releasing an analytics platform to its restaurant partners through Uber Eats. “Restaurant Manager is basically an an analytics platform for the restaurant partners participating in its food delivery service,” TechCrunch tells us. Basically, take OpenTable reviews and POS data that a restaurant with table service might use to analyze its business and bring similar capabilities to its delivery service. Helpful to restaurants? We certainly hope so, assuming the product works well enough to be simple and digestible, but perhaps it will in turn help Uber take a closer look at how their delivery business is actually having an impact on customers, as their track record is looking a little… problematic.
Author of New Book on How Analytics Are Changing the Restaurant Biz Dishes Thoughts
Damien Mogavero, CEO of Avero (a restaurant analytics company), is clearly no stranger to restaurant analytics, after 18 years in the businesses of giving restos the data they need to succeed (LinkedIn calls it “Moneyball for restaurants”). Now he’s written a book on the subject — The Underground Culinary Tour: How The New Restaurants of Today’s Top Restaurants Are Changing How Americans Eat — and talked to some Wharton peeps about it in a very in depth interview that examines the question from the standpoint of the economics. “Competition is high, food costs and labor costs are high,” says Mogavero. “The role of technology is absolutely critical… so that you can be profitable and the guests want to come back.” In the increasing discussion about all the data hanging out in restaurant tech and what to do with it, the book makes a strong case for the value of crunching the numbers in an otherwise creative and food-first industry. Worth a read and worth a listen.