Foodie Tuesday: Chefs Feed

There are two types of chefs in this world: TV chefs and those who actually work the line, sweating over the salamander and carefully plating works of art for your eight course tasting menu. This means there are also two types of foodies in this world: those who watch Food Network and those who watch Top Chef. The Top Chef foodies hate to be called foodies, thrive on knowing the best place to get ramen at midnight and save a week’s wages to make the pilgrimage to mecca restaurants like The French Laundry.

Do you live to be on top of the latest food innovations before they become trends? Do you keep a bucket list of restaurants to experience before you die? Do you put your money where your mouth is and actually seek out hole in the wall eateries, waiting in line at places that don’t take reservations? If the answer is yes then meet your new best friend, Chefs Feed, the app that lets you follow your favorite chefs across the world and see where they love to eat.

Don’t waste any more time missing out on the hidden gems you’re favorite chefs frequent, keep reading to learn more about this app for serious food lovers.

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Getting Started

The welcome screen said it all with pictures and words. I easily recognized renowned chefs like Emeril Lagasse, David Chang and April Bloomfield in the tiny photo tile wall. The app encouraged me to create an account, promising daily updates from the chefs. Not quite sold, I browsed the Chefs Feed by swiping up the screen and found chef recommendations like Mario Batali’s latest find, Steamed Oeufs from Buvette in NYC.

The welcome screen says it all: follow your favorite chefs and stay up-to-date on their favorite restaurants, left. You can browse the feed to see featured chef recommendations before setting up your profile, right.

The welcome screen says it all: follow your favorite chefs and stay up-to-date on their favorite restaurants, left. You can browse the feed to see featured chef recommendations before setting up your profile, right.

Creating a profile was quick and easy. I had two choices: sign up with Facebook or do it “the old fashioned way” by choosing a username and password. I don’t have a personal Facebook account (am I the only one?) so I find the tone a bit obnoxious. I would, however, love to sign up using my Twitter account (but that’s not an option).

Set up your profile and choose your home city from the list of about 23 cities, left. Since my hometown of Dublin wasn’t available I went with my last residence in Boulder, Colorado.

Set up your profile and choose your home city from the list of about 23 cities, left. Since my hometown of Dublin wasn’t available I went with my last residence in Boulder, Colorado.

Next I needed to choose my home city from the list of about 23 options, mostly in the United States, Canada and Britain. It was a bummer not to find my home city, but the app required I choose a city anyway. Once I set my home city the app displayed all the contributing chefs in the area.

Chefs Feed is a social app, encouraging you to follow as many chefs and friends as possible. Connecting with others brings more recommendations into your feed.

Chefs Feed is a social app, encouraging you to follow as many chefs and friends as possible. Connecting with others brings more recommendations into your feed.

Here I could choose to follow chefs in the list with the touch of a button. If you’re really into chefs you’ll follow those that you admire and ignore the rest. The app wants you to follow all the chefs, though, which is a bit off-putting. Foodies have discerning tastes and we know what we like! The last step in setting up a profile is finding friends from Facebook or searching by name or email. It’s pretty much impossible to find friends by searching and I don’t have a personal Facebook account, but I would love it if the app integrated with Twitter to find my tweeps.

The Chefs Feed Community

I set up my Chefs Feed and I was ready to go, or so I thought. Remember how the home screen featured recommendations from chefs like Mario Batali before I set up my profile? All gone. My Chefs Feed simply said to check back for updates on where the chefs I follow are eating. I always say something is better than nothing when it comes to updates, and an empty screen is pretty disappointing. The app should display the most recent recommendations from chefs I follow, even if they are from last year.

Check out the Chefs Feed Community to see which chef recommendations other users have tasted. Find users to follow and view all the dishes they’ve tried.

Check out the Chefs Feed Community to see which chef recommendations other users have tasted. Find users to follow and view all the dishes they’ve tried.

I decided to switch from Following to Community for a stream of what’s happening now on Chefs Feed. Users can endorse chef recommendations by announcing “ate that” and add their own photos of the food, plus a star rating. Here I found the latest announcements from users in the Chefs Feed community. I could see where they ate and which chef recommended the dish, but there is no option to follow the chef, which seems silly.

The app keeps track of what dishes each user has eaten or plans to eat, displaying these statistics in the profile. It’s a bit over engineered and doesn’t always make sense to users.

The app keeps track of what dishes each user has eaten or plans to eat, displaying these statistics in the profile. It’s a bit over engineered and doesn’t always make sense to users.

Delving into user Stats revealed their home city, a list of dishes eaten and planned, plus these statistics graphed on a pie chart. It’s a bit over engineered and not necessarily useful to users. For example, Sharon’s stats reveal she’s eaten 28 dishes in LA and has 15 dishes planned and the total dishes are 333. I can only guess that means the total dishes represents total recommendations in the app. What?

Finding Your Favorite Chefs

At this point I decided to take a step back and work on two things: setting up my Profile and finding my favorite chefs in other cities. It was easy to add my photo and a short bio. I found the prompt to “Write a post to your followers” a bit confusing.

Set up a profile and browse other cities to find and follow your favorite chefs in other cities.

Set up a profile and browse other cities to find and follow your favorite chefs in other cities.

It took some searching to figure out how to find more chefs to follow. It’s not under Chefs, Dishes or Activity, but rather, hidden in the settings under Follow More Chefs. Why does the app make it easier to follow friends (Activity)? This is Chefs Feed not Friends Feed. Searching for chefs to follow in Chefs or Dishes, limited the results to my home city or current location. Once I found the right place to look I had a heyday following my favorite chefs, including April Bloomfield in NYC, Nancy Silverton in LA and David Chang.

I had a lot of fun exploring the profiles of my favorite chefs, like David Chang.

I had a lot of fun exploring the profiles of my favorite chefs, like David Chang.

The app features 750 of the world’s most renowned chefs and I found icons in every location, from seasoned veterans like Daniel Boloud and Eric Ripert to Top Chefs Paul Qui and Stephanie Izard. Once I had found a good group of chefs to follow I was ready to make sense of the rest of the app.

Your Daily Feed

I don’t know why the app pushed so hard for me to follow all chefs in my home city, when the Chefs section features all the chefs in my city. This section is attractively designed and offers scrollable slides of dishes the chefs recommend. The Dishes section uses your location to suggest restaurants and dishes. I like how the app displays the dish, restaurant name, price indicators, distance and if the restaurant is open or closed.

The Chefs section displays all the chefs in your home city and their recommended dishes, left. Dishes gives you recommendations and info on distance and location, right.

The Chefs section displays all the chefs in your home city and their recommended dishes, left. Dishes gives you recommendations and info on distance and location, right.

Like the over engineered user stats earlier, I find the differences between Restaurant and Distance a bit murky. It’s hard to understand why both lists are needed and how that provides enhanced functionality for users. One very useful feature the app offers is the map, which shows the restaurants relative to your current location. This is especially helpful for planning a meal when traveling or meeting friends.

I have tasted the Eccles cake at St. John Bar & Restaurant recommended by Chef Anna Hansen, so I tapped “Ate It” and added a comment plus my own star rating.

I have tasted the Eccles cake at St. John Bar & Restaurant recommended by Chef Anna Hansen, so I tapped “Ate It” and added a comment plus my own star rating.

As a food lover I really enjoy sharing great restaurants with others, so one of my favorite things to do with Chefs Feed is browse the chef recommendations to see if I have eaten it or want to add the dish to my bucket list. I was delighted to find Chef Anna Hansen’s recommendation for the Eccles Cake & Lancashire cheese at St. John Bar & Restaurant, which I had tasted on a recent trip to London.

When you come across a dish you’d like to try, tap Plan It to save it to your list. I’m planning Tapas at Barrafina in London.

When you come across a dish you’d like to try, tap Plan It to save it to your list. I’m planning Tapas at Barrafina in London.

I also enjoy browsing Chefs Feed for dishes to add to my bucket list. It’s a good idea to add plenty of dishes so you’ll always have them close to hand when traveling. It would be nice if the app allowed you to access planned dishes on the map quickly, but this takes several clicks to achieve.

Conclusion

Chefs Feed is not new and it’s not the only restaurant guide based on recommendations for chefs, but it is unique. The app is social; it’s a community of chefs and food lovers. Rather than a once-off guide, it seems the chefs are adding their recommendations, so the app is always growing organically. Theoretically, you can follow chefs and see what they are eating now. The app could do better featuring chefs to keep users engaged (a special spotlight on Top Chef Contestants or a feature of the old guard called “The Masters”). Chefs Feed also needs to look at the user experience, trim the fat and focus on providing features users want and need. The features don’t all function perfectly (I tried and failed to share a restaurant on Twitter) and the app has been around long enough to do better.

On the positive side, Chefs Feed is free and it brings food lovers closer to the chefs they admire, which is a beautiful thing. Only time will tell if the chefs keep updating their feeds or if most of the action comes from the users.


Summary

Chefs Feed is a restaurant guide created by chefs with frequent updates and a community of food lovers.

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