Meals 4 Heels is offering healthy late-night takeout for sex workers and strippers, and its just part of a discussion on wellness and working conditions in the industry
Nikeisah Newton has cornered a market in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, which she calls strip city.
Shortly before 10pm on a Friday, Newton bounces around her kitchen, steaming kale and packing take-out boxes into a tote bag. Newton is working for herself in a business she created called Meals 4 Heels, a one-of-a-kind food service that delivers fresh, nutritious bowls to sex workers and strippers during late-night hours.
After 13 years of living in Portland and hustling in food service, Newton launched Meals 4 Heels in January. Her ex-girlfriend is a stripper and she has several friends who work in the industry. She quickly noticed that no one was looking out for their basic health needs like sustenance.
Were known for our food carts and strip clubs, but yet the human aspect is missing, said Newton. It doesnt make sense why there hasnt been something like this.
Better eating is just a part of a wider discussion on wellness and labor rights and conditions taking place in some of the countrys strip clubs. Just as in more conventional workspaces, there is now a debate over workers rights, the complex pros and cons of contract work and a struggle to wrest better terms from employers.
The short video shows BriiRamirezz walking into the Panera kitchen over to a box of frozen bags of mac and cheese, putting one into boiling water to defrost it, then cutting it open and dumping it out into a bowl. It ends with her flashing a thumbs up to indicate to viewers the cooking process is all done.
BriiRamirezz revealed that Panera found out about the clip after it went viral online and ended up on the local news in her hometown.
it went viral on tik tok and ended up on the news where i live
Most of us have daydreamed about becoming professional chefs and wowing everyone with our superstar skills in the kitchen. Sadly, not all of us are equally good when it comes to cooking, and intense training in the secretive ways of the culinary arts seems like a grueling task. Petteri, a chef from Finland, is here to tell you that absolutely anybody can act like a professional cook — if they know the right techniques. He uploaded a series of photos to imgur, demonstrating how to use average kitchen knives to cut food into ultra-thin slices.
Bored Panda interviewed chef Petteri from Finland about how to properly use cooking knives for cutting food, and how to take proper care of them. Petteri told us that he spent 3 years learning the trade at a hotel, restaurant and catering college, and a further 8 years working at fine dining, a la carte and lunch restaurants, as well as in the catering business. “You don’t get the benefits of a high-end knife if you use them only for home cooking,” Petteri shared some of his in-depth knowledge about knives with Bored Panda and explained that the main difference between expensive and cheap knives is the quality of steel. “For example, my expensive knives actually dull faster and need more sharpening and maintaining compared to the knives I have at home because they are in constant use. Good mid-range knives last for a lifetime if cared for properly.”
The chef also recommended anyone interested in taking care of their cooking knives to get a whetstone and honing stick: “They are easy to use and the Internet is full of great guides on how to use them. Honing the blade will straighten the blade and keep it sharp and the whetstone will reform the actual blade and remove little nicks and dents from it. Hone the knife when you feel it isn’t cutting smoothly. And use whetstone when you feel that the honing isn’t helping anymore.”
Finnish chef Petteri taught Internet users how to cut vegetables super-duper thin
Petteri warned us that we should never, ever put a knife in a dishwasher. “Rinse the blade with water and use a brush if there is something sticky, rinse and repeat. Avoid using soap and always store knives separately, such that the blade part does not come in contact with other knives and other utensils. I recommend getting a magnetic rack or a knife rack.”
“When testing the quality of a knife, I look for a few things. Is the handle comfortable in your hand? Do you like the grip? Is it well balanced? How fast does it lose its edge? Sadly, there is no sure way to tell if the knife is fantastic on the spot. Usually, after a month of use, I have a clear idea if I like the knife or not. I have had knives made of really high-quality steel but the handle falls apart or the blade is really top-heavy which makes the knife cumbersome to use,” the chef added.
This cutting technique can be used even with very cheap kitchen knives
He also had some final advice for anyone planning on going shopping for cooking knives in the future: “Don’t buy those knives that market themselves as “never needs sharpening” or “never dull”. They actually can’t be sharpened and once it’s dull or you accidentally drop it and the blade nicks a little, it’s gone and you wasted money. It’s important to get the right knife for the right job and I recommend, at the very least, to get one knife for meat, one for veggies, and one for pairing. In the end, it’s not how expensive your knife is, it’s how well you treat and use it that counts.”
Here’s what people had to say about cooking knives
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Make the most of bright summer produce with saffron and yogurt grilled chicken, tomato and roast pepper bruschetta and cherry jelly with orange cream
You come back from the shops with cherries, their skins tight and bright, the colour of beaujolais. Green-shouldered tomatoes too, fat red peppers and a bunch of basil, its leaves as big as bay. A heavy wedge of watermelon perhaps, a cool cucumber and spiky bunches of hot rocket. Summer shopping is frustrating. Peaches or nectarines? Peas in the pod or broad beans? Should we buy radishes and artichokes? We need food for the grill, something to marinade, and yet we still want something of substance. (Seafood for a potato-topped pie, chicken for the barbecue.) From now till late autumn there is almost too much from which to choose. We should make the most of it.
Watermelon, salted ricotta and pumpkin seeds
A halved watermelon becomes a fixture in the fridge from now till early autumn. Its ruby flesh chilled and waiting to become part of a salad or cut thick and brought out on a plate of crushed ice to finish a garden lunch. A watermelon laughs loudest when it is matched with chilli as it is so often in Mexico, but also when in the company of salty cheeses such as feta or ricotta salata.
In deepest summer, I soak iceberg lettuce, bunches of thick-stemmed watercress and white-nippled radishes for 20 minutes in a bowl of ice and water to crisp and refresh. The watermelon needs a good hour or two in the fridge before slicing. The marriage of ice-cold melon, salty cheese and chilli is dazzling. Tweak the amount of chilli flakes to suit your own taste. The batch I have at the moment is fiercely hot, so I proceed with caution, a pinch at a time.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish watercress 1 bunch red chicory leaves 100g radishes 200g corianderseeds 2 tsp olive oil 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds 45g fennel seeds 1 tsp chilli flakes a pinch watermelon 1kg mint 10 leaves salted ricotta 50g
Wash the watercress, discarding any tough stems or less than perfect leaves then submerge in a large bowl of ice and water. Separate the chicory leaves, halve the radishes, then add both to the bowl. Leave them for 20 minutes to crisp and curl.
Use a pestle and mortar or spice mill to grind the coriander seeds to a coarse powder. Warm the olive oil in a shallow pan, then add the coriander, pumpkin and fennel seeds, moving them around for a minute or two until they are warm and fragrant. Add the chilli flakes, continue cooking for a minute, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Peel the watermelon, cut into thick slices and then into large chunks into a bowl, removing the seeds as you go.
Finely chop the mint leaves, add to the melon then crumble or coarsely grate the ricotta over them. Drain the watercress, chicory and radish and add them to the bowl.
Tip the seeds, spices and their oil over the watermelon and tumble everything together gently then transfer to a serving dish and bring to the table.
Eclipse Foods may be the company that finally takes milk out of the dairy business.
Ever since the acquisition of WhiteWave Foods by the French dairy giant Danone for more than $10 billion, investors have been thirsting for a technology that would give consumers a better tasting, more milky (for lack of a better word) milk substitute than the highly valuable (but not very tasty) almond, soy and other plant-based dairy alternatives.
There are at least $37.5 billion worth of other reasons for investors’ interest in the milk-alternative category. That’s how much money will be spent on dairy alternatives by 2025, according to a newly released study by the market research firm Global Market Insights.
Enter Eclipse Foods. Founded by two veterans of the alternative sugars and proteins business, the company is going after the whole dairy industry, starting with a line of spreads and select additives for restaurants around San Francisco.
“We had an ‘oh shit’ moment when we got our plant-based milk to act just like the real thing,” says Thomas Bowman, Eclipse Foods co-founder and the former director of product development at Hampton Creek (now known as Just Foods). “We’re not pureeing nuts or seeds or legumes. We asked, ‘What are the properties of milk?’ and built this dairy base of the exact amino acids and fat profile.”
Thomas Bowman in the kitchen (Courtesy Eclipse Foods)
Joining Bowman on the journey to create the perfect milk substitute is Aylon Steinhart, a former specialist working with the Y Combinator -aligned food technology incubator and think tank, the Good Food Institute.
The two men met at the launch event for Just Egg, the fourth product to debut from Just Egg after the release of the company’s mayonnaise alternative, cookie dough and porridge.
“We started talking about ideas and landed on this dairy platform,” recalls Steinhart. “It’s a place where we can make a big change very fast given the technological breakthroughs that we solved for early on.”
The demand is certainly coming on strong. According to Steinhart about 80 percent of millennials are consuming dairy replacements at least once a week.
Aylon Steinhart (Courtesy Eclipse Foods)
Humans didn’t start out drinking milk. Over the 300,000-odd years that some form of homo sapiens has been stalking the planet, it has only been in the past 10,000-odd years that people decided to squirt the liquid out of a cow’s udders to consume it.
At first, humans couldn’t even consume the stuff without getting at least a little nauseous. They needed to develop a genetic mutation to even process the lactose sugars properly.
“The first time that we see the lactase persistence allele in Europe arising is around 5,000 years BP [before present] in southern Europe, and then it starts to kick in in central Europe around 3,000 years ago,” assistant professor Laure Ségurel of the Museum of Humankind in Paris, told the BBC earlier this year.
Ségurel speculates that the health benefits of consuming milk might have been related to the exposure (and potential inoculation) to various diseases that may have otherwise spread from the animals to the humans that were raising them.
If that was the rationale, it’s increasingly unnecessary for modern living, and may indeed be more of a hazard to human health.
They estimate that meat and dairy consumption should be reduced by 81 percent in order to meet global emissions reduction targets.
With the production of Eclipse’s dairy alternative, there’s no animal required.
“We have an off-the-shelf platform right now. The only additive will be water,” says Bowman.
And unlike other alternative dairy products, Bowman and Steinhart claim that theirs actually tastes good. And, as a Michelin-starred chef, Bowman should know.
The company’s first line of products will be a line of cream cheeses, including one for the bagel and schmear-loving crowd. However, the majority will be more millennial-focused, according to Steinhart.
“There will be various unique flavors that are culinarily focused,” he said.
Expect the first products to debut in an exclusive pilot with Wise Sons and through the ice cream maker Humphry Slocombe, a leader in high-end ice cream in SF.
However companies decide to label their Eclipse-based products, they certainly shouldn’t call them vegan, according to Bowman.
Japans state-run kyushoku system combines flavour with fresh ingredients and high nutritional value at low cost
The list of dishes reads like a health-conscious menu at an upmarket cafe: mackerel cooked in miso, a light salad of daikon radish and sour plum, thinly sliced pickled vegetables and a selection of fresh fruit. But the restaurant is actually a classroom at Konan primary school in central Japan, where the pupils need only the gentlest encouragement to eat their greens.
When the Guardian visited the school in the Pacific coastal city of Fukuroi, the classroom, momentarily transformed into a lunchtime cafeteria, reverberated to a chorus of Itadakimasu a polite Japanese term for lets eat.
On the menu today is baked cod, sauted sweet corn and bok choy, minestrone soup, a small carton of milk and, as a Friday treat, a slightly less wholesome combination of white bread with a soy-based chocolate cream a challenge to spread evenly on the bread with chopsticks.
The portions are modest, but then so is the total calorie count 667 kcal for a meal that will sustain the 11-year-old children until they get home.
Something different every day
Konan is not the only school in Japan producing a range of lunches or kyushoku that combine flavour with fresh ingredients and contain levels of iron, calcium and fibre stipulated by a government-run programme for children attending kindergarten through to the end of junior high school.
Every so often, someone will act very angry online because a recipe they clicked on has “too much text.” They wanted to make mushroom ravioli, but instead had to scroll through a bunch of words about what mushroom ravioli means to a blogger’s family. Boring!
It’s true that many (if not most) food bloggers write long narratives preceding their recipes. Sometimes, they explain how they developed the recipe. Other times, they share why they chose to post this particular food, or explain the modifications they’ve made to accommodate family members with dietary restrictions. They might share a story about the dish providing them comfort in a difficult time, or how cooking the dish with a loved one healed a broken relationship. Food is personal, after all; it comes with stories.
So why do so many people rush to mock them?
Cadry Nelson, a food blogger who runs the vegan website Cadry’s Kitchen, includes narratives with her recipes regularly. (She’s also written an essay about recipe narratives.) This is partially because she wanted to document her transition to veganism, the context in which she developed much of her work. In doing so, she’d create a reference point for readers curious about going vegan themselves.
“I was trying a lot of produce I’d never had before, as well as re-creating old familiar flavors but without meat, dairy, and eggs,” she explained in an interview. “I didn’t have many other friends who were vegan at that point.”
Sharing this information doesn’t just benefit her readers, either. It also helps her secure a place in the saturated food blog realm. “Through these posts, I’ve gotten to know bloggers’ flavor preferences too,” Nelson said. By sharing stories on blogs, people get to know the types of foods [and] flavors that specific recipe creators enjoy. You figure out who is a good match for your own palate.”
So why do people have such an issue with people writing about their own food? It seems to come down to convenience. Generally, perturbed readers complain that it takes too long for them to scroll down to the recipe itself.
Historian Kevin Kruse, for example, tweeted his disdain for recipe narratives last weekend: “Hey, cooking websites?” he wrote. “I don’t really need a thousand words about how you discovered the recipe or the feelings it evoked for you … I’m trying to feed my family. No need to curate the experience for me.”
Admittedly, it is irritating when anything is difficult to find on the internet, especially when we’ve come to expect an easy-as-pie user experience from every app and every website. It can feel like a slog to scroll through paragraphs of text when all you want is a list of ingredients.
But the thing to interrogate here isn’t necessarily whether blocks of text are annoying — it’s why people think these particular blocks of text don’t deserve to exist.
Nelson thinks there’s an element of sexism to the critiques she sees about recipe writing. Home cooking is still a deeply gendered pursuit, and writers whose work centers on home cooking are still perceived as less professional, less valuable, and less worthy voices. “The feeling seems to be that they don’t think these writers have something of value to offer,” Nelson said.
There’s been high-profile backlash to the backlash against recipe narratives. After Kruse’s tweet, Smitten Kitchen creator Deb Perelman tweeted a thread on the matter, encouraging recipe writers to “write as long and as in-depth as your heart desires about recipes and anything else they drum up in your mind and ignore anyone who says you shouldn’t.”
1. These websites are free to read and free to not read. /3
2. It’s mostly women telling these stories. Congratulations, you’ve found a new, not particularly original, way to say “shut up and cook.” [I just don’t see don’t see the same pushback when male chefs write about their wild days or basically anything. Do you?] /4
Like Nelson, she also called out detractors’ casual sexism. “Congratulations, you’ve found a new, not particularly original, way to say ‘shut up and cook,'” she tweeted. “I just don’t see don’t see the same pushback when male chefs write about their wild days or basically anything. Do you?”
“I wish more people who cooked got to tell their stories,” she added.
There’s also a more technical element at play where recipe narratives are concerned: search engine optimization (SEO). Recipe bloggers want to catch the attention of the illusive Google algorithm — and, ideally, land their recipe on the coveted first page — so they must demonstrate “authority” in their field. This means more comprehensive content, which is really hard to pull off with a concise recipe alone. (Tons of people will be using the phrase “apple crumble,” for example, but only you can write your own story about it.)
“When I’m writing, I try to tell a story that has a hook as well as please[s] the Google algorithm,” Nelson said. “I do keyword research … I see what kinds of questions people have around the topic, and look for ways to anticipate their problems, and answer their questions, so that they will have a successful cooking experience. Lately, I’ve been adding more step-by-step pictures of how to make dishes, as well as videos, because Google says that readers want that.”
‘I wish more people who cooked got to tell their stories.’
Even though she’s noticed people criticizing lengthy posts, Nelson maintains that writing a lot — authoritatively, of course — is what’s going to get eyes on her recipes. “People say they want shorter posts, but Google values information,” she said. “It’s hard to give information without using some words along the way.”
SEO and marketing experts agree that Nelson’s approach is a smart one, especially in such a saturated landscape. “Because a recipe usually consists of a listing of ingredients and steps, it’s often very difficult for a search engine to discern what this article is trying to convey,” Pete Herrnreiter, who is the VP of digital strategy at The Motion Agency, explained via email. “By developing a richer upfront with background on the dish … it [helps to] define the post.”
Content strategist Abby Sanders, who works for Von Mack Agency, also emphasized the advantages of differentiating one’s recipe from the pack. “These days, search engines are pretty effective at determining whether a page can serve as an ‘expert source’ on a specific query,” she said. “So any additional content that includes certain keywords, as long as it’s coherent and well-written, will improve that page’s ranking.”
As a caveat, Sanders mentioned, there are “plenty of other factors that play a role in rankings, such as domain authority, links to that page, and the list goes on. But from a sheer content standpoint, it does make good sense for a food blogger to write some extra, interesting copy around their subject.”
So, fine. Finding a list of chili ingredients would be easier if we didn’t have to scroll. But recipe bloggers are writers, and they have stories to share that are poignant, funny, and valuable — even if you (and I) don’t love every single one you read. And if you really don’t like the narratives? There are plenty of places for you to find story-free recipes online, though you might have to pay for a subscription to see some of them. Also, cookbooks exist.
“My food blog is my own. It’s my creative space. I spend a lot of time testing the recipes, taking photographs, making videos, and writing my stories,” Nelson said. “If people aren’t interested in any aspect, so be it.”
“My blog is Cadry’s Kitchen. It’s literally the place where I cook,” she added. “I don’t know why I would write myself out of it.”
When one food delivery startup fails, another gets funded.
Chowbus, an Asian food ordering platform headquartered in Chicago, has brought in a $4 million “seed” funding led by Greycroft Partners and FJ Labs, with participation from Hyde Park Angels and Fika Ventures. The startup, aware of the challenges that plague startups in this space, says offering exclusive access to restaurants and eliminating service fees sets it apart from big-name competitors like Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates.
The Chowbus platform focuses on meals rather than restaurants. While scrolling through the mobile app, a user is connected to various independent restaurants depending on what particular dish they’re seeking. Chowbus says only a small portion of the restaurants on its platform, 15 percent, are also available on Grubhub and Uber Eats.
The app is currently available in Chicago, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Champaign, Ill. and Lansing, Mich. With the new investment, which brings Chowbus’ total raised to just over $5 million, the startup will launch in up to 20 additional markets. Eventually, Chowbus says it will expand into other cuisines, too, beginning with Mexican and Italian.
Chowbus was founded in 2016 by chief executive officer Linxin Wen and chief technology officer Suyu Zhang.
“When I first came to the U.S. five years ago, I found most restaurants I really liked [weren’t] on Grubhub nor other major delivery platforms and the delivery fees were quite high,” Wen told TechCrunch. “So I thought, maybe I can build a platform to support these restaurants,”
TechCrunch chatted with Wen and Zhang on Tuesday, the day after Munchery announced it was shutting down its prepared meal delivery business. Naturally, I asked the founders what made them think Chowbus can survive in an already crowded market, dominated by the likes of Uber.
“The central kitchen model doesn’t work; the cost is too high,” Zhang said, referring to Munchery’s business model, which prepared food for its meal service in-house rather than sourcing through local restaurants.
“We don’t own the kitchen or the chef, we just take advantage of the resources and help restaurants make more money,” Wen added. “The food delivery space is really huge and growing so quick.”
Whoever thought of taking a sausage and giving it a little pork jacket deserves some kind of medal or at least a little mention in a national anthem. There are people in the world who also think like this, which is why they’ve set up the world’s first “pigs in blankets party” in Margate, a seaside town in Kent in the south of England.
The party features 100 different variations of pigs in blankets including just about every sausage that exists, from foot-longs to cocktails to whole wheels of pork. And all these sausages were covered in bacon combinations you could never have dreamt up.
Obviously, I was more than a little excited to take on the challenge of trying every single one.
The whole thing was conceived by culinary genius and PR creative and her food PR company Messhead which previously created such magnificent-sounding food shenanigans as ‘Fry Hard’ — a pop-up shop where they’d literally fry anything — and also the less appetizing sounding but equally incredible ‘Human Butchery’ which consisted of various meats arranged to look like human flesh on a body.
You can experience this for yourself on the 29th of December but I was invited along to have the best dinner for one that has ever existed at the right on Margate beach where the party is being held.
“Shall we start with the two-metre long cumberland with streaky bacon?”
I was greeted by a ham-flavoured daiquiri on arrival by chef Jim Thomlinson who’s worked across the UK in some fancy Michelin Star restaurants but thankfully now he’s doing the Lord’s work with sausages.
“Shall we start with the two-metre long cumberland with streaky bacon?” he asked.
“Shall we run away and get married, Jim?” I replied.
The romance with Jim didn’t stop there as he brought out a wooden tray with two different types of pork-wrapped black pudding and an intimidatingly long-looking monster.
Jim and Emma presented plate after plate of blankety delight to me —a saveloy (a bright red banger popular with cockneys) wrapped in smoked back bacon, fennel sausage with Parma ham, a venison and red wine banger with a thick bacon coat.
You know that Kanye West song that goes “Welcome to the Good Life”? I’d bet actual money that he wrote that on a rainy Sunday in Kent whilst stuffing himself with a sausage made of white pudding coated in turkey bacon.
Just when I was thinking there was no way these mad sausage lovers could surprise me any more, up pipes Jim: “How do you feel about stuff that’s been battered?”
“I feel like that’s something I could get on board with, Jim. I’ll be honest”
Not content with wrapping a bit of bacon around a battered sausage, however, Jim also had the bright idea of deep frying an entire pig in a blanket. We need more forward-thinking individuals like this taking control of our meals, if you ask me.
I know you’re reading this and thinking “Wow. This man has it ALL right now. The guy is full of pork ‘n’ just loving life”. I’d be thinking the same thing but I’ll tell you what though, trying to work your way through 100 different types of pig in 100 different types of blanket really takes its toll on you around pig number 60. I was trying to take little bites of everything, which was easy when faced with two metres worth of Cumberland (a big ol’ chunky sausage from England), however as the pigs got more and more interesting, the urge not to just scoff the lot down became worryingly hard.
I assume it is very similar to running a marathon. Sure, those first 10-15 miles are just a breezy little joy but then as you near the finishing line, things get slightly more challenging.
I was experiencing what runners call ‘The Wall’. Except, instead of a bit of a stitch fixed by chomping down some Haribo, I actually had a bit of a job in front of me. Somewhere around blanket number 80, I was really starting to flag. Surely there couldn’t be many more ways of blanketing a bit of sausage?! Then I heard it from the kitchen: “Do you want some lobster?”
I’d forgotten about lobster, the pig of the sea.
Now, I don’t make the kind of money that’ll see me turning down lobster at any point and if I can give you one piece of advice it’s that if you’re ever offered lobster, YOU TAKE IT! Particularly when that lobster is wrapped in bacon (unless you’re a vegetarian, of course).
The final stretch of pigs in blankets presented itself before me as a host of cheese-wrapped big boys — a Toulouse sausage wrapped in Raclette, a Frankfurter with cheese coursing through its centre, a bit of venison in blue cheese. The home stretch was a decadent bastard, to say the least.
Then it happened: I reached the final pig in blanket. I was so horribly full of pig and I honestly thought I would feel absolutely disgusting and sick, but actually I was more intrigued to see what mad delight Jim had cooked up for me to finish this party. I ran through all the variations that could possibly be left and kept coming up short. Then I saw it.
A mince pie. A mince pie wrapped in thick bacon. Although not technically a sausage, I feel like this spin on the classic might’ve been the change I was looking for, because I wolfed down the warm treat without even thinking.
100 variations of pigs in blankets, done. I’d like to say that I learned something after taking on this challenge, but I’ll be honest I already knew that pigs in blankets were food sent from the Meat Gods and this entire adventure just confirmed it.
If you’d like to experience the same level of greatness as I experienced that day, then the Cinque Ports in Margate is hosting the second installment of their Sausage Parties on the 29th of December where you can get all the pigs in blankets you can eat for £20 — just in case for some reason you don’t get enough pigs in blankets on Christmas Day.
Chewse, a food catering and company culture startup, just announced a $19 million fundraising round as it gears up to expand its operations in the Silicon Valley area. This brings Chewse’s total funding to more than $30 million. Chewse’s investors include Foundry Group, 500 Startups and Gingerbread Capital.
Instead of plopping down meals in the office and bouncing, Chewse aims to create a full experience for its customers by offering family-style meals. In order to ensure quality, Chewse employs drivers and meal hosts so that it can provide them with training. Chewse also offers it drivers and meal hosts benefits.
“We initially started with a contractor model but then very quickly started to realize our customers often mentioned the host or the driver in their feedback,” Chewse CEO and co-founder Tracy Lawrence told TechCrunch.
“I know there’s a lot of other companies that are like food tech or logistics but for us, it’s all about elevating and improving company culture,” Lawrence said. “We have technology but we’re investing in it to create an exceptional real-life experience.”
“On the tech side, we’re using a ton of machine learning and algorithms to learn what people like to eat and create custom meal schedules,” Lawrence said.
To date, Chewse has hundreds of customers across three markets. Chewse initially launched in Los Angeles, but paused operations for a little over one year in order to focus on achieving market profitability in San Francisco. Chewse has since relaunched in Los Angeles, in addition to launching in cities like Palo Alto and San Jose. As part of the Silicon Valley launch, Chewse has partnered with restaurants like Smoking Pig, HOM Korean Kitchen and Oren’s Hummus Shop.
Within the next year, the goal is to double the number of markets where Chewse operates. But Chewse faces tough competition in the corporate meal catering space.
Earlier this year, Square acquired Zesty to become part of its food delivery service, Caviar. The aim of the acquisition was to strengthen Caviar’s corporate food ordering business, Caviar for Teams.
At the time, Zesty counted about 150 restaurant customers in San Francisco, which is the only city in which it operates. Some of Zesty’s customers include Snap, Splunk and TechCrunch. Zesty, which first launched in 2013 under a different name, had previously raised $20.7 million in venture funding.
“Zesty is a direct competitor of ours for sure,” Lawrence said. “When we’re thinking about the things that set us apart from Zesty and ZeroCater, the investment in using the technology and building a meal algorithm — which is something we know they’re doing by hand — and then automatically calibrate when we’re getting feedback because we employ our hosts and our drivers. Yes, it’s more expensive for us but because it provides such a superior experience, we retain our customer longer.”
*Zesty has reached out to clarify it, too, has an algorithm at play to determine best foods and meals to serve.
Plans to expand program are on hold as gag-inducing pong and vermin are holding back residents, foodies and hipsters from saving food scraps
It was meant to be an ambitious environmental program but efforts at composting in New York are breaking down amid rats, roaches and rank smells.
New Yorkers are relatively good at recycling but an ick factor is holding them back from saving food scraps for reprocessing, the authorities admitted.
In a sweaty city that regularly has back to back humid days in the eighties and nineties Fahrenheit all summer, some householders are recoiling from the scheme in a cloud of fruit flies.
Now plans to expand New Yorks organics collection program are on hold as even eco-minded residents, foodies and hipsters wrestle with the idea of bags of putrid mush sitting on their kitchen counter tops awaiting disposal.
City-issued large brown plastic collection bins that are put out on the sidewalk have special fastening lids to keep out vermin but, full of deteriorating leftovers, still often exude a gag-inducing pong when opened.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a pilot program five years ago, hoping hundreds of thousands of tons of this food-loving citys leftovers and grass mowings would be churning their way through the system, to be turned into alternative energy or fertilizing compost.
But expansion has been put on hold because there is insufficient participation to be cost-effective. The city collected only about 13,000 tons last year and found that the 3.5 million people currently in the voluntary program are only separating 10.6% percent of their potential scraps.
Honestly, I think its a complete waste of time, says Anselmo Ariza, who maintains the trash and recycling bins for several blocks of apartment buildings in Brooklyn. Some people use them, but most of them just put trash and plastic bags in there. Marzena Golonka complained that the citys weekly pickup at her apartment building in Brooklyn is not frequent enough to keep the stink and rats away.
Its vile, she says. Until sanitation starts doing their job effectively, Im not going to have a brown bin.
De Blasios goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030 depends on residents and businesses separating their organic waste, which currently makes up a third of the trash that ends up in landfills and is a major producer of greenhouse gases.
The city is still committed to expanding the program to all 8.5 million New York City residents, but right now is focused on making the system more efficient, sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia said.
We are having to overcome the ick factor, Garcia said.
What happens when you add AI to food? Surprisingly, you don’t get a hungry robot. Instead you get something like PixFood. PixFood lets you take pictures of food, identify available ingredients, and, at this stage, find out recipes you can make from your larder.
It is privately funded.
“There are tons of recipe apps out there, but all they give you is, well, recipes,” said Tonnesson. “On the other hand, PixFood has the ability to help users get the right recipe for them at that particular moment. There are apps that cover some of the mentioned, but it’s still an exhausting process – since you have to fill in a 50-question quiz so it can understand what you like.”
They launched in August and currently have 3,000 monthly active users from 10,000 downloads. They’re working on perfecting the system for their first users.
“PixFood is AI-driven food app with advanced photo recognition. The user experience is quite simple: it all starts with users taking a photo of any ingredient they would like to cook with, in the kitchen or in the supermarket,” said Tonnesson. “Why did we do it like this? Because it’s personalized. After you take a photo, the app instantly sends you tailored recipe suggestions! At first, they are more or le
ss the same for everyone, but as you continue using it, it starts to learn what you precisely like, by connecting patterns and taking into consideration different behaviors.”
In my rudimentary tests the AI worked acceptably well and did not encourage me to eat a monkey. While the app begs the obvious question – why not just type in “corn?” – it’s an interesting use of vision technology that is definitely a step in the right direction.
Tonnesson expects the AI to start connecting you with other players in the food space, allowing you to order corn (but not a monkey) from a number of providers.
“Users should also expect partnerships with restaurants, grocery, meal-kit, and other food delivery services will be part of the future experiences,” he said.