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Why we are all missing out on the best restaurants

One Parisian summer night in July 2014, my regular restaurant buddy Stefan and I were eating a very reasonable foie gras ravioli in a very reasonable ‘French bistro’ restaurant recommended by Le Fooding app/website. It was, well… reasonable. But nothing more. With hundreds of restaurants in the app, adorned with generic praise we were now not only starting to question the app recommendation-but every restaurant recommendation source. Can we still even trust the status quo recommendation process?
 
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A little background before continuing: 
Both of us would call ourselves ‘foodies’ if we had no other choice of labels. We live for great food, make the best food we can and talk about food probably far too much. I have been working with gourmet chefs in France as an Art Director for several years too, so I was lucky enough to eat pretty damn well every now and then. And then take a real interest, like Stefan, in better eating in our adopted home of Paris. Oh, and we are also both app developers.
 
And now back to the ‘reasonable restaurant’ saga…
 
After downloading a couple more food apps right then and there in our reasonable restaurant, we realised that the real problem was that neither of us actually trusted these or any other restaurant recommendations anymore. Recommendations have been commoditised, like a shopping list and we are losing the expression of character and uniqueness of dishes and chefs. The trust has waned over the years too with stories of unfair write-ups the whole industry complain about. Food apps are no different presumably with their ‘pay to play’ business models such as The Fork.
“They are either full of only the restaurants prepared to pay to be there, or written up by self-proclaimed food experts” — Stefan said.
 
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A few minutes later we concluded we needed to track down who deserved to be listened to when suggesting restaurants. That immediately scratches everyone currently recommending restaurants in most places in my opinion. 
 
Food critics usually eat in a restaurant just once before reviewing. Then, to the best of their knowledge recommend a restaurant for food lovers who may eat there on the wrong day or wrong year. In any case, with so many foodistas, columnists and journalists suggesting a great food night out, who should we trust?
Then there is the absurd idea that if we take the average of Dotty from the upper west-side of NY visiting Paris for a weekend, Tom the trucky from Perth Australia swinging through for his one time visit to Paris and Kenji from Tokyo, Japan here on business, we would somehow get the sum of the best Parisian restaurants. No, you will just get the restaurant they each prefer in their respective budget category. No offence Dotty, Tom and Kenji, but we all deserve more than the average of the average.
 
So if crowd sourcing is out, what about the self-proclaimed deities of gourmet goodness speculation-the Michelin guide? No-one would deny the excellence and high standards Michelin live and die by, but perhaps that’s the problem? Whilst most of us will eat where there is great food period, a Michelin inspector will only eat in and give stars based on a bunch of things that frankly don’t concern me. 
 
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The Michelin Guide score service, décor and location as much as the food itself. So a perfectly great foie gras might be overlooked if a small restaurant in a side alley has a grumpy waiter for example. Paris wouldn’t be Paris without a bit of superior attitude from someone serving your food, and I would prefer a great foie gras served with a scowl than the inverse possibility.
 
So without even dignifying bloggers with an explanation of why they don’t get any credibility either, we are left with the men and women who live breath and create what we judge to be fine cuisine — the chefs themselves.
And voila, we had our mission: Create an app with no charge to the chef for delivering them restaurant customers (to avoid bad feeling and unfairness), and only ask the best chefs simply one question: 
Where do you eat?
 
If you are interested in testing a working simulator  [Link: http://www.chefshout.com/stay-in-touch] of the app-click here. [Link: http://www.chefshout.com/stay-in-touch] We hope you will so together we can offer gourmet lovers the food app they deserve.

Comments  

 
#1 Andreas Reisert 2015-09-11 08:39
Great idea, Roderic! Looking forward to the final version of your app.
 

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