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The Cooks Palate Blog

Entries in Foodies (3)


Silicon Valley Techies Take on Food

I never thought I would see the day that Silicon Valley types made an important contribution to the food industry.  Clearly I was wrong.  Earlier this month the first Food Hackathon was held.  The Food Hackathon brought programmers, designers, and other technical types together in a competition to create new products to improve the food ecosystem. Food Hackathon is the first event of its kind, empowering food lovers and techies to positively  impact the production, storage, distribution, access, discovery, sharing, consumption, and social impact of food.

Teams created at the Food Hackathon will have an opportunity to demo their products and receive feedback from notable judges with a chance to win prizes and awards.  They will be recognized in global food and tech communities and network with notable movers and shakers in Silicon Valley. 

I tried a few of the products referred to in the articles with mixed results.  The first is an iTunes app called Can I Eat, available for $1.99.  You configure preferences and establish a daily guideline for your nutrition intake.  You can then scan an ingredient bar code to determine how the food item fits into your diet.

The second is a website:  This site asks you to name up to ten ingredients that you have on-hand in your pantry.  It suggests recipes that you might like from a web search.  I personally think the search needs improvement because I didn’t like any of the recommended recipes and there wasn't a way to fine tune the search with my preferences.

Foodies are a discerning crowd with very individualized palates.   One of the reasons we got into the recipe software and cookbook publishing business is because we wanted to create a platform where foodies could express their own palate.  Generic food solutions will never satisfy foodie palates.  It will be interesting to see if the hackaton teams figure this out.

There is a second Food Hackathon scheduled for June.  It will be interesting to see what other innovations they come up.  You can learn more at their website



Tracy and I wandered into our local Whole Foods last Sunday just in time for “Parmageddon”.  Apparently Whole Foods set the world record in 2008 for cracking 300 Parmesan Cheese Wheels simultaneously.  They have upped the ante each year and held the title until last year when a Canadian grocery company cracked open 378 wheels of Parmesan.

Since we are regular customers, Tracy and I were asked to bear witness to the heroic attempt to return the title to Whole Foods. We were honored. Whole Foods was cracking more than 400 cheese wheels simultaneously at precisely 3 pm EST on Sunday in stores in the US, Canada, and the UK. The spectacle of Whole Foods cheese mongers using five different authentic knives to crack open these 82 pound behemoths was incredible.  They say that these centuries old techniques are the best method to ensure that the cheese’s internal crystalline structure and crumbly texture are preserved.

After the event we signed a statement that we had indeed witnessed the wheel being cracked.  I don’t know what the record time for cracking one of these beauties is, but Drew, our cheese monger, completed the task in one minute, five seconds.  As a reward for our participation, Tracy and I were given more than a pound of the fresh Parmesan. 

What a treat! Do you have a good parmesan recipe to share?


Democratize Dinner Parties At Your Home 

Foodie trends continue to expand in unexpected ways.  Take a relatively new site named  This time, instead of a pop up restaurant, or dine with a local when you travel, let’s just have them over to the house.  Feastly is part of a series of projects in what has been named the “share economy”. The “share economy” premise is that cost declines when people consume together.  The concept for Feastly was developed in Washington D.C. during a “Start-up Weekend” brainstorming session in November, 2011 that included, what turned out to be, founders Noah Karesh and Danny Harris.  Their vision is ” to create a marketplace where passionate cooks could connect with adventurous eaters seeking more authentic and social dining options by offering home cooked meals in a cook's home”.

Feastly is an online market place that connects passionate cooks and food-lovers for homemade meals prepared at home. Feastly attempts to create an atmosphere where diners with a wide variety of diverse backgrounds are brought together in a setting that is more congenial to socializing than an antiseptic restaurant environment.

Feastly is currently seeking to expand into the New York City and San Francisco area. Of course, depending on local regulations, these supper clubs will likely get different regulatory treatment in different communities.  To assuage diners worried about food safety, the Feastly site says hosts "opt in" to its guidelines. But that doesn't mean supper clubs are above health authority guidelines.  In fact, one in New Jersey was shut down last year because it didn't have a license.  As this trend grows, I am sure it will get more attention from health authorities.  In the words of Anthony Bourdain, “Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

Feastly says a new website will be launched soon, with added features allowing diners to share their thoughts on meals and rank the cooks.

Would you go on a blind date at a Feastly dinner party?