Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A chef decides it's better to be all a-Twitter

Many of my colleagues in the general media have been ga-ga over 4Food, the quickservice upstart that says it’ll reward customers who create a new menu item. Patrons can create their own burger order, give it a name, and promote it via social media. The more times it’s ordered, the more rewards they’ll garner from the place.

That’s an interesting application of Twitter and its ilk. But more impressive is the virtually overlooked new venture of Brett McGee, the Charleston, S.C. chef who recently packed in a conventional culinary career to bet on something social-media based. Indeed, it may be the more reliant on viral communication networks than any foodservice venture we’ve seen to date, including Roy Choi’s Kogi BBQ truck.

McKee recently turned in is toque at the Charleston institutions where he mans the kitchens, the acclaimed Oak Steakhouse and O-Ku. He says he’d rather devote his energies to building a fleet of mobile restaurants bearing the brandname Roadside Kitchens. Like many truck ventures, the first two Kitchens rely heavily on social media. That’s how they tell customers where to buy the concept’s comfort foods.

But in a marked twist, Roadside Kitchens will use social media to determine what items to put on the menu. As it moves into new areas, McKee has indicated to local media, Kitchens will ask consumers to post what items they’d like to find on the menu. Roadside Kitchens plans to put those requests on the menu, McKee indicated.

We’re just starting to see the power of social media. But in quick order, we’ve seen how it’s likely to remake menus in the near-term.

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