Archive | Restaurant News


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Just a Byte Podcast – Interview with HMS Host Chef, Renate DeGeorge

Posted on 23 June 2014 by Administrator

Just a Byte Podcast

The Just a Byte Podcast features dining trends, social media, interviews and foodie news. In this interview, we’ll be talking to Renate DeGeorge of HMS Host. HMS Host helps to bring restaurants into airports all of the world. They help restaurants pair down their menu offerings and find items that will work in the smaller kitchens of airports.

Renate shares with us the process of selection of restaurants, how they decide which items to include in a menu, and even how they are able to source from local vendors at different airports around the globe. It is quite a fascinating process.

Podcast 3Thinking INside the Box with Culinary Director of HMS Host, Renate DeGeorge


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The Guaranteed Blog Post: A Sticky Situation

Posted on 21 May 2014 by Administrator

I recently saw a dialogue that appeared on a Facebook Group page for an organized outing. The organization was approached by a restaurant to have its member bloggers sample food, with a guaranteed blog post on each blog after said free meal. What’s wrong with this picture? What if you don’t’ like the food? What do you then?

how to host food bloggers

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When some group members questioned the expectation, they were told they could shy away from a positive view in exchange for an informational post. That seems drab and a bit calculated (more mentions on blogs and social media are good for the restaurant).

I feel for the restaurants, I really do. One of the most missed experiences I have is the seasonal menu tastings that Seasons 52 used to do for bloggers. They hosted us + a guest in their private dining room and we were privy to a special screening with Master Sommelier George Miliotes to discuss the well thought out wine and cocktails paired with the multi-course meal we were about to sample. The service and food was impeccable (and each dish is under 475 calories I might add), yet most bloggers failed to ever write anything. Although Seasons 52 never admitted it, I can’t help but feel this is why they stopped doing these exceptional events for bloggers.

Here’s the restaurant / publicity company perspective:
You mean we just send one email out to a person who handles inviting all the other bloggers? And each and every blogger we invite will absolutely write a blog post? Yippee! This is win-win for us!

As a blogger, I only attend events I have the full intention of writing about. Did you read that word “intention”? While it is unfair to take a free meal at a restaurant knowing you will not write a word, it is also unfair to your readers to write something that isn’t your true sentiment. I also organize monthly blogger dinners and adhere to a “no pressure to post” motto. The restaurants trust that I’m inviting bloggers that I’ve personally vetted to be ethical and use their best judgement when it comes to reviewing.

To get another opinion, I contacted Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write For Food, speaker and educator on food writing and blogging. Here’s what she had to say:

AoFB:  What is your opinion on bloggers who attend a complimentary tasting or meal with the understanding that they must write a blog post about the meal?

DJ: I can see how the restaurant would want that, but I would not agree to attend with that stipulation.

AoFB:  What do you think of restaurants or PR companies that stipulate this as a requirement for hosting a blogger for a meal?

DJ: They are trying to do what they think is best. It’s up to bloggers to do what they think is best too. It’s their blog, and they should not feel obligated to write a post, especially a complimentary one, in exchange for a meal.

AoFB:  What effect does this requirement of a post per meal have on the food writing industry?

DJ: Bloggers have a reputation for being pushovers. It makes readers take their opinions with a grain of salt. Many are not confident about their skill level in evaluating dishes, so it is easier to write a positive piece about attending an event than to make critical decisions about the food and restaurant.

how to host a blogger dinner

One member of that group commented on the facebook conversation, saying that restaurants often expect a glowing blog post if they are hosting bloggers even the experience is less than satisfactory.  This brings up a good point. Restaurants sometimes view bloggers as low hanging fruit. Sorry, but it is true. They believe that since we are not paid journalists, then we should gladly write a positive review in exchange for a free meal. One publicist even went so far as to send a blogger friend of mine a nasty email stating “Why would you attend the dinner if you didn’t intend on writing a blog post?” when she chose not to write anything after a disappointing meal. Hey buddy, take a hint, we were being kind by NOT writing.

And restaurants, here’s why these are the bloggers you don’t want at your restaurants:
The blogosphere is vast and diverse. Not all bloggers are created equal. Sheer numbers of social media followers don’t tell the full story. The trustworthy bloggers have carefully nurtured a relationship with their readers and won’t take chances to screw that up. That means not taking a free meal with a promise of a shallow review. The ones that do write an honest review are the ones whose readers will take action and show up at your restaurant.

Of course a complimentary meal and a good review are not mutually exclusive for ethical bloggers. After all, how many bloggers can afford $100+ dinner 4-5 times per month? But that doesn’t mean you should gush on and on about the restaurant. If you like the food – super – share that with your readers. If you didn’t like it and don’t plan on writing you at least owe the restaurant or publicist that invited you an explanation of why.

There seems to be a tipping point right now in food blogging. Are food bloggers going to continue to stay relevant? How do we rise above the noise while growing and nuturing readers? While our association provides guidelines of ethics to follow, at some point, you, the blogger, have to take responsibility for your blog, brand and writing and decide what your personal ethics are.


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A Progressive Dinner at the Atlanta Airport

Posted on 06 May 2014 by Administrator

blogger dinner atlanta airport
The Association of Food Bloggers partnered with HMS Host for the first ever, progressive dinner at the Atlanta Airport. Just how does one plan a progressive dinner at an airport?  By going through lots of red tape. But it was so worth it, as we all had an incredible time dining airport style.

As you may be aware, if you’ve traveled through the Atlanta airport, it is huge! There are multiple concourses connected by trains and as if that wasn’t enough, they’ve just added a new international terminal. Our group of 10 met at the Atlanta Chophouse, an upscale pre-security restaurant. The two-story restaurant features dark woods and a casual, welcoming ambiance.

restaurants atlanta airport dining

A delicious sampling of Ahi Tuna and Buffalo Shrimp started the evening off. The Buffalo sauce was on point, an opinion supported by each blogger, including one of our members who hails from Buffalo. Not only were the appetizers tasty, but we found that the greens the accompanied the dishes were locally sourced, something HMS Host strives to do in each city’s airport they are in.

Before we got too comfortable we were whisked away to our second destination. But not before we made our way through security. At the risk of sounding incredibly snooty, it was pretty neat to have our own security escorts.

Besides working with existing restaurants to source from local vendors, HMS Host helps to bring local restaurants into the airport. That’s right – you can still eat like a local even if you never leave the airport. Case in point is Ecco restaurant, a favorite of Midtown Atlanta diners.

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Ecco, a modern European / Mediterranean restaurant features cured meats and cheeses, pizzas, pastas and other European influenced dishes. Executive Chef of HMS Host, Renate DeGeorge, works with restaurants to help them pair down a regular menu to a manageable amount of airport offerings and pick dishes that will work best in smaller kitchens.

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You wouldn’t guess this was airport dining at all with a selection of meats and cheeses, honeyed fried goat cheese and stuffed piquillo peppers (locally sourced from Brasstown Beef, of course).  Enjoy all of these foods while sipping on a well-crafted cocktail too. We sampled the Gigi Says, a vodka ginger cocktail.

atlanta airport international terminal dining
This being a progressive dinner, we headed out to our last stop – the food court, even taking a cocktail to go, which anyone can do, while in the dining area of the international terminal. This new area in the airport is much more upscale – even by food court standards than other terminals at the Atlanta airport.

What’s a visit to the city’s airport without a taste of the south? The Pecan (whether you pronounce it “pee-can” or “pe-caan”), is another local favorite in Atlanta. Staying true to their roots, diners can try a southern classic like Shrimp n Grits. Or embrace the new-ish Chicken and Waffles craze complete with options of honey mustard and sweet syrup to drizzle atop. Do save room for their namesake – Pecan Pie.

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While The Pecan provided us with dessert at the Atlanta airport progressive dinner, it wouldn’t truly be a complete visit without stopping by The Varsity, one of the longest running, most iconic restaurants in Atlanta. Make sure you get a paper hat and take a selfie before flying off to your next destination.

atlanta airport dining options

In the Atlanta airport, we’ve long suffered from a small selection of boring chain dining selections. Not only is it a welcome addition to have some of the local, beloved restaurants at our airport, but also knowing that they are supporting local vendors by sourcing from them.

Huge thanks to HMS Host for helping us make the first progressive dinner at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta a huge success!

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Exclusive Interview with Chef John Besh on Cooking From the Heart

Posted on 12 November 2013 by Administrator

Cooking from the Heart Cookbook

Chef John Besh is the owner of many restaurants in New Orleans and the author of three cookbooks, the most recent, Cooking from the Heart: My Favorite Lessons Learned Along the Way.

Chef Besh was kind enough to take time out of his extremely busy schedule to speak with us about his everyday life, cooking inspirations and his take on food bloggers.

AoFB: Did you have any influencers growing up that got you into cooking?
JB: My grandparents and my mother influenced me tremendously growing up.

AoFB: What is your favorite kitchen tool or gadget?
JB: Large spoons that stir the pot. I love making jambalaya, etouffe, creole, stews, large one pot meals. I usually set the spoons right back on the stove after I’m done cooking because I know I’ll be using them again and again. And I love the Le Cruset cookware.

AoFB: Curiosity and the cook? Tell us a little more about that.
JB: That chronicles the time I spend in Europe in my twenties with my wife, Jenifer. Those were fantastic days. We visited so many little hole in the wall spots and had some of the most delicious foods. I learned so much about cooking from these places and tried such a variety of things, things that I wouldn’t normally have tasted. It really broadened my palate.

AoFB: You run restaurants. Your wife works but you have four children. How do you find time to balance work / family life?
JB: Yes, Jenifer quit work to be dedicated to the family so that has helped a lot. But it is all about the priorities you make. If it is important to you, you will do that so as busy as our lives are especially with the boys sports, we still make it a priority to sit down together with the family. That is what my book is about – bringing people and families together.

AoFB: Do any of your sons prod you to open a restaurant with their name?
JB: Ah! What was I thinking when I did that? My restaurant, Luke, is after my grandfather. I sometimes wish I didn’t do that. I get a lot of flack for it.

AoFB: In recent years there has been some controversy about food bloggers. What are your thoughts about them? Do they have relevancy in the industry and how you see them shaping the food world?

JB: I think bloggers are great and continue to influence and shape our industry. I have been very fortunate that so many bloggers and critics have given my restaurants positive reviews. However, I do think people are so quick to critique something instead of enjoying it for what it is and the experience. A meal should be about sitting down with those who are special to you. I think that young kids like 17 and below haven’t event developed their palate yet and they are already critiquing places, which isn’t right. Even my son Brandon writes a food column in his paper and he is so young.

AoFB: What is your guilty pleasure food?
JB: I’m a chef, pretty much everything I make is a guilty pleasure, isn’t it? Okay, I guess if I were to pick something I like French fries dipped in Mayonnaise

AoFB: I see the pumpkin Tian that you made on the Today show in your cookbook. The stars of the new movie, Last Vegas acted as your Sous chefs. What was it like directing Michael Douglas, Robert Dinero, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline?
JB: I had so much fun with that. Kevin Kline was great, and it was my first time meeting him. Robert Dinero Michael Douglas was terrific too. It was like being with friends because they have dinned in my restaurants before.

AoFB: What else?
JB: Check out my new book, Cooking from the Heart, visit as well for more information.

Here is a recipe from John Besh’s latest cookbook, Cooking from the Heart:

Makes 8–10 ramekins

Here’s one way to think about a gelée: individual ramekins used as molds to turn out little aspics with morsels of rabbit and diced vegetables. I like to serve this appetizer with a beautiful salad of chanterelles and cherry tomatoes to enhance the delicate flavor of the rabbit. Or serve it more simply, with a variety of pickled vegetables.

Young rabbit (about 3 pounds)
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 carrots, diced small
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
8 cups Basic Chicken
Stock (page 250)
1 cup diced celery root
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 packets (.25 ounce each) powdered gelatin
Freshly ground black pepper
About 2 cups small chanterelle mushrooms
A handful of cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Sherry vinegar

1. Combine the rabbit, onions, leeks, half the carrots, the thyme, bay leaf, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, cayenne, and Chicken Stock in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Season with salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer slowly for 1½ hours. Transfer the rabbit to a bowl.
2. Strain the cooking liquid through a finemesh sieve into a medium pot and discard the aromatics. Bring the stock to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until it has reduced by about half to 3–4 cups, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining carrots, the celery root, and the chives. Soften the gelatin in ½ cup cold water and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the gelatin to the reduced stock and stir until dissolved.
3. Debone the rabbit and dice the meat, then add it to the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and if you think it needs it, add more salt and pepper.
4. Evenly divide the rabbit, vegetables, and stock among 8 or 10 ramekins. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, toss chanterelles and tomatoes with oil and vinegar and reserve.
5. To serve, place the ramekins in of warm water for just a moment to soften the gelée. Use a knife to release, invert and carefully unmold each onto a plate.

Makes about 6 cups

Save the carcass from every chicken you roast—it’s the foundation of a great chicken soup. I always have a few in my freezer for just this purpose.

2 carcasses roast chicken
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon black peppercorns

1. Combine the chicken carcasses, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with 12 cups cold water and bring to a boil. With a spoon, skim and discard the foam that rises to the top. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until reduced by about half, about 3 hours. Strain the stock through a finemesh strainer over a large bowl. The stock is ready to use, or chill and freeze for future soups and stews.

—From Cooking from the Heart: My Favorite Lessons Learned Along the Way by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing

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Behind the Scenes at Le Cordon Bleu + IACP Conference Recap

Posted on 05 November 2013 by Administrator

We recently attended an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Conference. The speaker roster included a well known Anthropologist who shared insights into the culture of food and what is means in our society for the past, present and future. Another speaker, well known author and James Beard award winner Shirley Corrinher, shared some cooking tips with us. We also got a behind the scenes tour of Le Cordon Bleu, where the conference was held.

Shirley Corrinher at IACP Conference

Shirley Corrinher is many things: a well respected chef, abiochemist and author of CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking. Corrinher also is the winner of a James Beard Foundation award. Here other book BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking. CookWise explains how scientific principles can be applied to traditional cooking, while BakeWise applies the same theory to baking. She’s also a riot to be around. She spoke at the IACP conference and shared some cooking tips with us. Here are three gems Shirley shared with the audience:

  • Salt. Everywhere we turn nowadays we are told salt is bad for us. But did you know that a small amount of salt reduces the bitterness in foods?
  • Risotto. Want to make it extra creamy? Add an egg yolk to risotto to make it super creamy.
  • Searing meat does not keep juices in. Cooking it a consistent temperature is the way to keep the juices in. To avoid moisture loss make sure meat is brined. Meat that has been brined will lose only 15 percent moisture. Meat that has not been brined will loss about 30 percent moisture.

After our speakers were done and a scrumptious lunch (they do it up right!) we got to tour Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta, where the conference was held. I didn’t know much about the culinary tracks offered at Le Cordon Bleu, only experiencing meals from some of their talented graduates. It is quite an operation they have in their “classrooms.”

Classroom at Le Cordon Bleu

Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School Atlanta

We toured the numerous and neatly organized classrooms. I’m told chefs are spoiled by how elegant the appliances are at Le Cordon Bleu and have a bit of an adjustment when they get out into real world restaurant kitchens. Also worth noting is that many work stations have cameras mounted from the ceilings. During demonstrations, students can really see techniques up close. Cameras can also be used to review the process to help identify where mistakes were made. All in all we were pretty impressed with the operation!

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Food Trucks vs. Restaurants

Posted on 01 October 2013 by Administrator

Food trucks are all the rage these days. They’re convenient, offer tasty food and hold a ton of personality. Restaurants may not agree, however, only because food trucks are taking away some of their customers and revenue.

During the American Civil War, cattlemen looked for simple ways to feed other cattlemen while herding through Texas. Chuckwagons then emerged, selling food to herders, now known as food trucks. Since then, food trucks have resurged due to the downed economy. Restaurants that lay off chefs are one example why food trucks have grown over the past few years. New opportunities have emerged for experienced chefs who don’t have jobs and need to make money.

Social Media has played a huge role in the popularity of food trucks. Fans can follow the trucks on Facebook and Twitter to find out when and where they will be. Loyal customers will drive many miles to support their favorite food trucks.

The Current State of Food Trucks
Food trucks are taking advantage of every opportunity they can, pinching every penny and fighting any restrictions that affect their business. You’ll see them frequently rolling around in larger cities, but they’re popping up more and more in smaller cities and college towns. Why? People are always looking for more convenient ways to eat some tasty, affordable grub.
Their convenience and small kitchens also make for great food outlets for special events, music festivals, parties and other public or private gatherings. They’re small enough to not take up a large amount of space and mobile enough to cater to any special event.

Restaurants haven’t really changed much, except from the fact that there are more of them…a lot more. So many restaurants exist that if you lived in a large city, it could take you years to try every one. It’s a growing market, especially as people’s lives get more hectic.

Food trucks are a difficult business. They fight many restrictions and regulations that cut down on their revenue. Food truck owners in larger cities, such as Chicago, are a great example. They have many parking restrictions and only recently have been allowed to cook onboard with proper licenses, rather than offsite kitchens. They can only park for 2 hours at a time and have to be at least 200 feet away from restaurants.

Restaurants also have their own hardships. Over the past few years, they’ve had to let workers go due to poor economic health, which inadvertently created more competition for them because some of these people started their own businesses…food trucks. In addition, with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, restaurants will have to pay more towards health benefits, which will affect how much they can pay or even keep their employees.

The Ongoing Battle
The fact of the matter is, restaurants don’t like food trucks, food trucks don’t like restaurants and both parties have difficulties with regulations passed down upon them. In larger cities, restaurants seem to have a larger voice, which can influence the way laws are passed. Food trucks, particularly in San Diego and Chicago for example, have been upset at some of the regulations enforced upon their operations. They’ve missed out on opportunities to make money due to some of these restrictions, but if you look at it from the restaurant perspective, is it fair if a food truck parks right outside a brick and mortar establishment?

Can’t we all just get along and enjoy some food, whether it’s at a table or on a street corner?

By Sam Ott

He  writes for Willies Restaurant in Columbia, Mo. Willie’s is known for their tasty wings since 1994.

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2013 Food and Drink Trends

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Administrator

By Markeya Williams

2012 was an exciting year for many food and cocktail trends. It was also the year that ended
with many trends on the horizon and awaiting their turn to blossom from the minds of geniuses
and out into the world to turn us on.

Leave your ‘sweet tooth’ behind

2013 is the year of the bitter, sour, and spicy! Let’s talk digestifs if you will; though it does
appear to be and odd place to begin.

Amaro. Interpreted as “bitter” in Italiano. 2012 ended with great interest in such digestifs as
Averna and Fernet-Branca, which made quite the reintroduction to society along with aperitifs
such as Campari and Aperol.

The American palate is being forcefully pushed toward bitter and herbaceous and we should
all be grateful. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re out on the town, order a Fernet-Branca or
perhaps a Menta-Branca and watch your bartender’s eyes light up then hold on to your chair for
the astringent, though pleasantly smooth and very grown up experience that is Fernet.

House made (wonderfully inviting new buzzwords) bitters, simple syrups, and shrub syrups.
It’s a pretty surreal experience to sit at the oak in your favorite watering hole and observe hand-
written labels boasting “grapefruit shrub” or “house bitter blend”. It almost takes you back to

Organic Chemistry class, but with a more entertaining result.

Photo Credit: Markeya K. Williams (DrFoodie Photography). ArtBar (Cambridge,

House made hot sauce is also challenging us all beyond Texas Pete (not that there’s anything
wrong with that). But aged, fermented Korean chili paste (gochujang) and even fresh
horseradish based hot sauces are leading the way these days. Most are simple, but brace you for
a few with a storyline.

Photo Credit: Markeya K. Williams (DrFoodie Photography). Kitchen (Boston, Massachusetts)
Chef Scott Herritt’s Frog legs with House made Hot Sauce

Salted & Boozy Desserts

Not so unusual in Asian cuisine, salted desserts are capturing and holding the attention
Westerners. Salted caramel has eased us into this trend. We’ve found salted caramel swirled in
vanilla ice cream, enjoyed bacon chocolate, stout(ed) chocolate, bacon cotton candy, and salted
caramel candies/chocolates. It’s quite an interesting ride! Adult milkshakes (think banana with
rum) are also all the rave!

Photo Credit: Markeya K. Williams (DrFoodie Photography)

Photo Credit: Markeya K. Williams (DrFoodie Photography) Corn popsicle at The Painted
Burro Mexican Restaurant (Somerville, MA)

Mei Mei’s Kitchen (Boston) Cider ice cream w/ salmon roe and brown butter powder

Crisp fried chicken livers with orange marmalade, fried tobacco onion, and garlic seared greens.
Estelle’s Southern Cuisine (Boston, MA)

Fun-Filled Deviled Eggs

I never imagined such a phrase would ever be written, but restaurants everywhere seem to be
competing on how to design the trendiest deviled egg. Think smoked, spicy chicken liver, pesto,
or smoked salmon with capers and you’ll understand what I mean.

Spicy, Smoked Chicken Liver Deviled Eggs. Estelle’s Southern Cuisine (Boston, MA)

Not Your Average Kid’s Meal

Fancy kiddos celebrate! Your child is not a second class diner with limited choices of chicken
nuggets and mac n’ cheese. Even the palates of babes are becoming more sophisticated. Treat
your little gourmands to panko hand-breaded chicken, whole grain items, pot stickers, even small
filet mignon and they may not expect a toy afterwards.

-Markeya enjoys sharing her experiences one bite and/or flight at a time! Her work can be found
at Traveling Foodie 2006

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Taco Bell Cantina Menu: Social Media Fail

Posted on 18 July 2012 by Administrator

“You can’t believe everything you read on the internet.” That’s what a Taco Bell employee said to me when I flashed their Facebook offer on my smart phone, refusing to honor the July 4th weekend BOGOF promotion for their new Cantina Bowl.

Like many other food bloggers, I rarely ever eat fast food. Created by Chef Lorena Garcia, Taco Bell’s new Cantina menu seems to be different. The upscale menu comes with guacamole, cilantro rice and charred corn salsa and protein of your choice, and is under 600 calories. The price point makes it a poor man’s Chipotle.

Between the television commercials and consistent Facebook ads, it was nearly impossible to avoid hearing about the deal. Interested in seeing how well the Cantina Bell menu lives up to its claims, I decided to give it a try. Plus, I like to participate in social media promotions just to see how well they play out in the real world.

Trying to keep printing to a minimum, I was pleased to see that Taco Bell’s offer allows users to simply show the promo on their smart phone and still claim the offer. Nice green initiative, or so I thought. However, I was told by the cashier at Taco Bell, I would have to print the deal out (as the person in line behind me did) to use it. Her recommendation was that I go to the library (cause libraries are open at 7 pm on Saturday, right?) and print it out.

I did try to go back to their page and take a screen shot of their response but my comment had been removed from their Facebook page before I could.

After Taco Bell refused to honor the deal, I tweeted to them. No response. I then went on Facebook the next day and recounted my experience. Their response was “Not all stores participated in the promotion.” Um, if they honored it for the person in line behind me, that is still participating, no? Who is running their social media accounts? Was that the standard response to anyone who had a problem using the deal that weekend?

Besides the deplorable handling of this social media initiative from every angle possible, it was rather sad that the store manager hid in the back and made his or her subordinate tell me he or she had chosen not to accept the Facebook promotion via mobile.

I even went back and read the rules of the promotion: Basically unrestricted use throughout the entire weekend. So, Taco Bell really, really, wants everyone to try their new menu. Why then the refusal to honor a mobile deal? Why kill trees unnecessarily?

If this happened to me, I’m sure it happened to many others as well. It is always a shame when a neat concept flops because of lack of proper company communication. Clearly, marketing came up with a great promotion but failed to properly communicate it down to the store level. They certainly spent enough money on it between advertising and media events.

Even more of a shame is I really did want to like the Cantina bowl. I really did want to believe Taco Bell had come up with a good concept. Provided the food lives up to how tasty they claim it is, they had an opportunity to win me and many others over who had sworn off their food. If only they had handled any part of the social media right. Unfortunately, they botched it up pretty good. No quiero Taco Bell.

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The Great Food Truck Debate Rolls On

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The Great Food Truck Debate Rolls On

Posted on 03 August 2011 by Administrator


In Seattle, Chicago, Raleigh, Atlanta and other cities across the nation, the debate on allowing food trucks rages on. Foodies love food trucks because you can get a sampling of various kinds of food for little cost. Think of anything from a Korean taco, to tamales to cake pops and much more. Besides being inexpensive, the food is innovative and convenient (read: can be eaten while standing up holding over a paper plate).

In some cities food trucks are relegated to the outskirts of town, and some are only allowed to serve pre-packaged food; cooked food can only be served if it has been prepared in a restaurant kitchen. Food trucks must pass a health inspection just like a restaurant. And they do receive random visits to make sure they are up to code.

It all sounds like a fun way to pass the time, right? The gathering of food trucks around a designated spot to sell a various array of tasty foods to hungry patrons? Some say yes, while others vehemently oppose the idea. And consumers lie somewhere in the middle.

Restaurant owners argue that food trucks are loud and create lots of litter. They also say they take up valuable customer parking. It is especially a hot button in a tough economic climate where restaurants are battling each other for dollars and don’t want to compete against the lower priced food trucks.

Then there is the food truck vendor side. Food truck vendors argue that they don’t take business away from brick-and-mortar restaurants but rather appeal to those office workers that brown bag it or the young crowd of late-night partiers looking for something quick and cheap.

The crux of the problem lies somewhere in the middle. Restaurants must pay exorbitant amounts for rent, in addition to property taxes, employee wages, electricity, etc. A food truck doesn’t have nearly the expenses. And with everyone hanging on to their money these days, it is much more likely for consumers to spend 3 bucks on a quick taco vs. upwards of 10 dollars plus tip at a restaurant. Food truck vendors start a mobile business because that is all they can afford, and see it as a stepping-stone to one day owning their own restaurant.

One thing that is for sure is that the food truck issue isn’t going anywhere. City officials are weighing options of mandating that food trucks operate a certain distance from restaurants. New York has enforced that many trucks operate in parks. While the food truck scene is trendy, and the food quick and delicious, nothing can take the place of a beautiful restaurant with fantastic service in a comfortable atmosphere.

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Generous Pour Wine Event at The Captial Grille

Posted on 02 August 2011 by Administrator

With locations around the country, the Capital Grille is a restaurant you know you can walk into in any city and be treated with amazing service and have a damn fine steak too. Now, through September 4th, The Capital Grille has their Generous Pour Wine Event going on. The Generous Pour Wine event offers guests the chance to taste nine varietals ranging from bubbly to full-bodied reds to a Port. These wines are selected by Master Sommelier, George Miliotes – Twitter @TheWineExpert – Tweet him, he’ll tweet you back! He even hosted a live webcast during our preview wine tasting where we were able to tweet to him and ask questions.

Ample servings of nine rare and limited vintage varietals – all for just $25 per person (with dinner entree purchase) from July 12 through September 4. The collection includes wines from all over – Spain, California, Australia and Italy. So no region is excluded. Guests are able to try wines that would normally be out of price range like the Freemark Abbey, Cabernet Bosche, 2003 which is about $250 a bottle. Everyone at the Capital Grille is friendly and helpful and not snooty at all even if you are a non-oenophile.

I’m not usually a fan of white wine and Chardonnay is my least favorite but I’m so thrilled that I tried the Chateau St. Jean, Belle Terre, 2008. This wine was fruity and citrusy, with not a hint of oak that is typical of Chardonnays. It is my new favorite white. My favorite of the reds and the clear winner that night was the Chalk Hill Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma 2006. It paired nicely with my Kona Sirloin. I’d have put a picture of it below, but let’s just say the camera didn’t love it as much as I did.

Guests may sample all nine wines or they may choose to have multiple tastings of one or more of their favorites from The Generous Pour – their server will guide them through the experience, suggesting pairings for each course ordered and providing each person with a summary of tasting notes. The restaurant will also prepare custom wine flights upon request, for those guests interested in comparing and contrasting The Generous Pour selections.

The Generous Pour Wine Event Highlights from this summer’s collection of choice whites and reds are:

· Tarima Hill Monastrell, 2009 – Making its U.S. debut at The Capital Grille this summer, this spectacular varietal is setting a new standard for Spanish medium-bodied red wine.

· Chalk Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 – Named for the volcanic chalk under the vineyard’s hillside surface, which gives a delightfully unique quality to the wine’s flavor, this rich, dense wine is one of Sonoma Valley’s best.

· Marquis de la Tour, NV – This sparkling “bubbly” hails from a vineyard in France’s Loire Valley, which has been producing excellence since 1885.

· Conte Brandolini Vistorta Merlot, 2006 – Harvested from 100-year-old vines in a small vineyard in Northeast Italy, this merlot epitomizes powerful elegance.

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