Something cheery from the good folks at Wired. The chocolate chip cookie has already been innovated to death, but hey, it can always use a little improvement.
In her book Eat the City, Robin Shulman explores the secret, sideways, underground, and otherwise forgotten forms of food production that have shaped New York. From foraged greens to fish, no ingredient is left untasted. I helped Robin research the book last summer, so I knew, from an inside perspective, that urban food producers are often first-rate innovators. The overlap between tech startups and gardening guerrillas or immigrant brewers is more extensive than you might anticipate. Last week, I spoke with Robin about how food innovation is changing New York:
Munchery: “Reinventing the Personal Chef: Gourmet Delivered to Everyone”—Brenden Mulligan broke it down for TechCrunch yesterday. There are tons of meal delivery services out there, but how many boast a product made by a professional chef? Munchery’s proposition is simple: pay just under restaurant prices for a professionally cooked dish, delivered to your house. Reheat in an oven or, gasp, microwave. Sample dishes: “Chicken al Mattone and Squash ‘Pappardelle’” from Chef Young Tran ($13.99, early bird discounted from $17.00), “Grilled Jerk Chicken with Stewed Lentils, Coconut Rice & Mango Chutney” from Chef Bala Smith ($11.99, early bird discounted from $16.00 base), and “Pimento Cheese BLT” from Chef Ben Lillywhite ($11.99, early bird discounted from $17.00 base). At its price point, Munchery is a tough sell. Unless a user lives in an isolated area, which is essentially impossible considering that the service area is San Francisco, the Peninsula, and Marin, or is homebound, or simply lazy, why wouldn’t he or she go to a nearby restaurant? $17.00—plus delivery cost, don’t forget—is on par with a nice, sit-down lunch, with table service, and linens, and silverware you don’t need to clean yourself. Mulligan suggests that Munchery’s potential is huge, especially if they help connect people with their neighbors for home-cooked meal delivery. Of course, that would be a pretty significant pivot for a company branded on a “professional” ethos.
Using IBM’s new augmented reality app, supermarket shopping will get a little easier and a whole lot cheaper. Augmented reality, in its most basic sense, describes the overlay of digital images on the real world, usually viewed through a mobile device. VentureBeat reports that IBM’s app will display ingredient information, prices, recipes allergy warnings, discounts, and streaming data from social networks. When you scan a shelf with your phone, that information will be rendered as a digital illustration over the real image. The app can be customized for dietary parameters, too, meaning that a paleo-diet user could identify the grass-fed beef without scrutinizing every package. My experience with augmented reality apps like Aurasma has been frustrating: the technology holds a lot of promise, but the actual processing speed feels painfully slow. As their speed improves, augmented reality apps promise a more efficient consumer landscape.
China’s robot restaurant. I could imagine this in Times Square. [via Eater]
Aquaponics=hydroponics+fish. It’s how Eric Maundu is trying to bring agriculture to Oakland. More from HuffPo.
I’ve argued that cookbooks aren’t going extinct, but the rapid progression of e-cookbook technology is incontestable. The New York Times reports that Gilt Taste has developed an iPad app designed to keep dirty fingers off the screen. Previously, cooks had to keep their iPads in plastic baggies or purchase alternative sleeves. After all, hands can get dirty kneading dough or cleaning a brace of pheasants. The Gilt Taste app includes 140 recipes, relatively short by cookbook standards. But it’s technology is what stands out.
The Gilt Taste app uses the iPad’s camera to follow the movements of a user’s hands. Gesture at the iPad like you’re turning a page, and the page turns. No contact with the hardware necessary. Although other hands-free apps are on the market, like iCookbook, which relies on voice commands to turn pages. Whereas iCookbook includes manufacturer approved recipes, Gilt Taste is the brainchild of Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet magazine. After the demise of Gourmet, avid cooks speculated about Reichl’s future plans. She eventually revealed a partnership with the Gilt Groupe. Gilt Taste has become known for its team of heavy-hitting long-form specialists, like Francis Lam. Therefore, this latest development in the Gilt Taste story is surprising. A dedication to innovation and adaptation was probably the only missing component in the Gilt Taste recipe. Now that the Gilt Taste portfolio has added digital savvy to the mix, Gilt Taste has marked its ground as a formidable competitor in the food media market.
My childhood favorite. I remember drinking this in a park after barbecues. Comments from a HuffPo taste test: “Fluorescent and completely sugary.” “Weak and artificial.” “Lots of sugar, but refreshing.” “Horrible color. Tastes like Kool-Aid.” “Tastes just like what I’d expect fake lemonade to taste like.”
I still love you Country Time.