The-fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) is common among restaurant diners, plagued by worries that they won’t order the “right” dish or what they order doesn’t look like what they expected.
Chefs Feed launched in four new cities today, bringing its curated selection of chef-recommended dishes to Las Vegas, San Diego, Denver, and Boulder. The app is now available in 19 cities in America as well as London, and it features curated content from over 600 elite chefs. But the founders are not just interested in geographical growth; they are setting out to build a media empire.
“Everything we do, we do with the chefs in mind,” said founder and CEO Steve Rivera, in an interview at VentureBeat’s office. “Before they were just the guys with big white coats back in the kitchen, now they have this celebrity status. Their brands are bigger than they are. We are capitalizing on where the food scene is and creating dialogue, to help chefs keep the lights on in their restauranteurs and monetize on their fame.”
Chefs create profiles with a selection of their favorite dishes at other restaurants with the app. The content provides a glimpse into what the best chefs like to eat and serves for a guide for diners who want to track down the most delicious dishes. It’s an excellent way for locals to discover hidden gems as well as for travelers to quickly figure out where they’d like to eat in a new place.
“People are getting frustrated with user-generated content,” said founder and CMO Jared Rivera. “They want to get straight to the point. Anyone who cares what they are putting in their body and doesn’t want to sledge through a bunch of noise to find out whats good, goes right to the experts. A meal is a terrible thing to waste and you don’t want to screw around with good food.”
I have tested out Chefs Feed in San Francisco and on a recent trip to Seattle. For me, the content provides an exciting glimpse into the worlds of chefs I have read about and admired. Users scroll through the images on chefs profiles, and can click on specific items and chefs to learn more. You can also follow your favorite chefs and click on “Ate it” or “Plan it” buttons for dishes you have or want to try. A feed surfaces content as chefs add it, and the “Feed Me Now” feature will pull up a map of tasty options in your area.
It is Chefs Feed I have to thank for guiding me to Zuni’s roasted chicken for two. I am still drooling.
Diners benefit from help with where to eat and what to order. Chefs, on the other hand, view Chefs Feed as a platform to engage with their fans and patrons when they are outside of the kitchen.
“A lot of chefs realize they should use social networking and technology, but you forget to do it or time becomes an issue,” said chef Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant in San Francisco. “This is a great way to connect with customers when are are unable to get out in the dining room. There are so many restaurants out there, to be able to connect with anyone is really helpful. I like the fact that the audience all are people who are into food.
Founders Steve and Jared Rivera are brothers who ran a successful restaurant PR company that Wagstaff Worldwide acquired last year. They had been working on Chefs Feed as a side project and decided to turn it into a full-fledged business. Jared then embarked on cross-country journey, sponsored by Virgin, where he became the “chef whisperer” and ate at over 500 restaurants in eight months. Twelve cities (and a few extra pounds) later, they launched the first version of the product.
Chefs Feed 2.0 came out last October with added social features that pulls in social graphs and helps you communicate more directly with chefs as well as make OpenTable reservations. Now, their vision is even bigger. Continued national expansion is on the way, but the Riveras have plans to add in more marketing tools for chefs, syndicate the content, explore e-commerce, build a unique lead generation system, and take transactional costs for referrals.
In the meantime, I will continue to lust over images of roasted meats, seasonal salads, and decadent desserts.
Photo credit: Chefs Feed