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The Crumb for October 6th, 2017

Lori Bailey / October 6th 2017

Today's Crumb dropped from 36,000 feet.

Happy Friday! Load your favorite toppings onto a slice of sweet potato toast as you settle into this past week’s food news.


But first, let me take a plate-y

If you thought all this Facebook/Twitter/Instagram nonsense was just a fad, you’re about to get schooled. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has started offering classes in food photography and styling. ‘Cause killing it on social media isn’t just fun and games anymore; there’s strong evidence to show that posting a photo of an item—a daily special, for example—will help it perform better. All well and good, but that’s not the only reason a venerable culinary institution would teach students how to perfectly photograph pineapples. Traditional opportunities to become chefs and restaurateurs are, quite simply, getting harder to come by—so, by expanding its course offerings, the CIA is hoping to provide different avenues towards successful careers. Eating with your eyes isn’t just good advice anymore; it’s good business.

 

Go brick & mortar or go home

Sure, plenty of businesses are going either partly or entirely for online retail. But don’t say farewell to the ol’ brick-and-mortar just yet. Starbucks, for one, has decided to shut down its online shop to focus on elevating the in-store experience. In addition to its core offerings, the company has been actively pushing its Reserve line of higher-end beans and coffee bars. So this shift reads as another part concerted effort to streamline the business and re-establish Starbucks’ premium coffee reputation. Unfortunately for customers who’ve gotten used to whipping up their own toffee nut lattes at home, this also means that Starbucks’ syrups and sauces will no longer be for sale—the company has made it clear that they don’t want people accessing their products through online retailers (cough, Amazon, cough). Guess we’ll have to leave the PSL’s to the professionals.

 

Don’t text and dine

Phones away at the dinner table! Might sound old-fashioned—but, at Hearth in NYC’s East Village, chef Marco Canora encourages diners to unplug. In addition to the usual place settings, Canora has recently added characterful boxes for guests to sequester their phones away while enjoying their meal. Because, in the chef’s words, “If there’s one time [a day] to engage with the person you’re with, it makes sense to me that it’s around the dinner table.” And Canora’s not the only one; other establishments are going in the no-devices direction by instituting phone bans, not offering wifi, or giving discounts in exchange for temporarily surrendering your phone. So quit your whinin’, eat your vegetables, and definitely put that phone away.

 

It's Amazon’s world, we’re just living in it

The buzzworthy Whole Foods acquisition, market-stirring meal kits, an announcement of a potentiabril second headquarters… and, now, Amazon is making moves on restaurant delivery. They’re teaming up with Olo, the company that currently handles catering orders for Chipotle, to work out a large-scale delivery system that could handle orders for hundreds of different chains. With a potential client base that includes not only Chipotle, but Shake Shack, Which Wich, Applebees, Jamba Juice and more, we’re talking a preeetty big consumer reach. Not that these restaurants have signed on just yet, but the one-two punch of Olo’s order-streamlining tech and Amazon’s fulfillment services could prove rather compelling.

 

Fast food nation

Not just America these days. In Tokyo’s hyper-hip Harajuku district, a curious little pharmacy invites passers-by with an orange neon cross. The backlit shelves display an array of medications, and a pharmacist stands ready to assist. Strictly speaking it’s not a real pharmacy, but according to the design studio behind the project, the guests who stop in are all potential patients—victims of widespread “urban malnutrition” thanks to an influx of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. By asking participants about their eating habits, then “prescribing” the supplements necessary to make up the resulting nutrition deficit, the pop-up aims to educate Japanese youth. As it is, Japan accounts for 33% of the entire Asia-Pacific fast food consumption. Either put down the Big Mac, or pick up a drug cocktail.




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