Guest post by Amanda, Merrill and the Food52 team. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the views of Food+Tech Connect.
Dining and technology both have an amazing ability to enhance connections — they each provide a space for people to come together, help us reunite with old friends, give us the tools to learn from each other, and act as a platform where we can share news and ideas. We’ve recognized this overlap and hacked food and dining to bring together more home cooks across the globe.
At Food52, we aim to help people eat well and live better. We recognize that there’s no one way for someone to eat or feed their family, so our community shares what is tried and true from their own kitchens, creating a sense of trust in the recipes. Food52 also provides our community with the tools to follow other like-minded cooks, save and “favorite” recipes, and invite their friends to join them on the site; this helps to create a robust, personalized food community and network for each member.
There’s more to be done, though. We believe in the voice and power of beautiful food photography, but see potential for Instagrams and beautiful recipe photos to do more than just make your followers jealous. What if there was a way to link recipes to photos so that when you tagged a pork buns photo at Momofuku, you immediately received the recipe in your inbox? A way for your friend who liked your Instagram photo to know exactly how you put together tonight’s family meal? Or even some sort of wonderful technology that understood your favorite scents and tastes well enough to translate those senses into recipes? The more recipes we taste, provide feedback on, and share, the greater impact we all have on food and dining.
One thing we love about cooking is how adaptable and constantly changing it can be. For example, think of inheriting your grandmother’s cherished tomato sauce recipe. You’ve tweaked the recipe slightly to suit your tastes, then passed it along to a few friends who have added their own spins to the sauce — say, a little more garlic or a spicy addition. Just like Github did for open source software, there’s space for technology to create a canonical source where one could view changes and updates to recipes. We could view where they diverged when ingredients were added and subtracted and what emerged from those new ideas. Even more than that, it would value the tomato sauce recipes of the best Italian chefs next to the home cook giving it their first shot. And we’d all reap the benefit of being able to track the changes and decide how we’ll make our best sauce yet — one that suits our personal tastes.
We love to dine out, but we think that technology has the biggest ability to change how we dine in. How we impact what’s cooked in our kitchens, how we learn to become better and more knowledgeable cooks, and how we share that food with others. As more home cooks connect with each other and technology brings recipes closer to our fingertips, we’ll hack dining into its best phase yet.
Hacking Dining is online conversation exploring how we might use technology and design to hack a better future for dining. Join the conversation between June 2-30, and share your ideas in the comments, on Twitter using #hackdining, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr.
Amanda Hesser is the co-founder and CEO of Food52.com. She has designed a 17th-century-style herb garden at a French chateau, created the Twitter app Plodt, and appeared in Julie & Julia, playing herself. She was also named one of the 50 most influential women in food by Gourmet.
Before she and Merrill started Food52, Amanda was a reporter at the New York Times, and the food editor at theTimes Magazine. She wrote the award-winning books Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Cook and the Gardener, and edited the essay collection Eat, Memory. Her last book, a Times bestseller and the winner of a James Beard award, is The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Amanda is a trustee of Awesome Food, and is an adviser to The Spence Group.
Merrill Stubbs is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Food52.com. She grew up in New York City and honed her cooking skills at Le Cordon Bleu in London. She interned in the test kitchen at Cook’s Illustrated, worked with Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery in Boston and was a private chef and cooking instructor. Merrill met her Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser when she signed on to help with The Essential New York Times Cookbook. She has written for T Living, Edible Brooklyn and Body+Soul, among other publications, and she was the food editor at Herb Quarterly. Merrill lives in Brooklyn with her family.