Who Knew? Chefs Have Their Own Version of Yelp.
There's one question we all want to ask our favorite chefs: Where do you go out to eat?
A chef's recommendation is the ultimate stamp of approval. Chefs know restaurants from the inside out, and they know their local dining scene as only an insider can. With so much time spent in their own kitchens, when a chef turns the tables and chooses a restaurant to experience from the diner's side, you know it's got to be good.
Their secret weapon is Chefs Feed.
Chefs Feed is a Yelp-like restaurant discovery and recommendation site that we civilians can peruse, but the only people contributing reviews are chefs and other hand-picked culinary professionals.
Chefs Feed covers 15 U.S. cities plus London with a current lineup of 600 working chef-contributors, all respected professionals in their own circles and some outright celebrities like Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, and Wolfgang Puck. While just the chefs can add photos and reviews, anyone with the app can submit questions and comments, creating an interactive dialogue between the professionals and the rest of us.
Chefs look to the top of the food chain for inspiration, but they're as likely to eschew the haute for the offbeat. So while all the big guns of city dining are represented, Chefs Feed also reveals the universal appeal of dumplings and Asian noodle houses, and unravels the mysteries of some lesser-known ethnic cuisines like Ethiopian and Peruvian. Given the hours they keep, it's no surprise that chefs also display a soft spot for late-night joints and all-day breakfasts.
600 chefs vs. the collective wisdom of the mob
Yelp is commendably democratic with fresh voices and plenty of knowledgeable citizen journalists. But Yelpers also bring their quirks, biases, grudges, and ignorance (along with unchecked spelling and grammar); and the ratings are notoriously easy to game. Unscrupulous business owners compensate diners for positive reviews, greedy customers extort freebies with threats of negative reviews, and the site itself has been willing to tip the ratings scale to favor paid advertisers.
By contrast, there's nothing democratic about Chefs Feed. Its roster of contributors is drawn from the elite and exclusive club of successful, professional chefs. You might not always share their dining druthers, but you can trust their discernment. After all, it's Mario Batali; not some random guy with a smartphone.
Chefs Feed is offered as a free download from iTunes.
Then there are the restaurants where chefs go to blow off steam after a long shift in the kitchen. Read Gigabiting's Marijuana and Food to learn how chefs feed their munchies.
Gigabiting: where food meets culture and technology.