Dallas is a city full of food enthusiasts. Diners are always on the prowl for the best dishes in town, and they turn to myriad sources — friends, critics, Zagat, Yelp (sigh) — for intel about where to eat.
Enter Chefs Feed, an iPhone app that solves the where-to-dine dilemma by delivering information about a city’s best dishes — from low-end to high — as identified by the area’s top toques. Today Dallas got its version, a quest that began in earnest this past February, when I was tapped to be the Dallas editor.
You can explore the Dallas dining scene through the eyes of each chef. So if you’re curious about where Julian Barsotti likes to get barbecue (it’s Pecan Lodge, BTW) or where Nick Badovinus goes for a steak (that would be Nick & Sam’s), then you can find out on Chefs Feed. Or simply hit “Feed Me Now” to discover chef-recommended eats near you.
If you’re curious about where Julian Barsotti likes to get barbecue or where Nick Badovinus goes for a steak, you can find out on Chefs Feed.
Other participating Dallas chefs include Dean Fearing, Kent Rathbun, Tim Byres, Bruno Davaillon, Katherine Clapner, Abraham Salum, Tracy Miller, Jeff Harris, David Uygur, Tre Wilcox, Andre Natera, John Tesar and about a dozen others.
Dallas is one of seven cities added in Chefs Feed 2.0. The new, more social version of the app enables you to follow your friends and the chefs, who can add new dishes real-time (as opposed to — true story — a chef texting founder Jared Rivera at 4 am about a new taqueria that he wanted to add to his profile). Chefs can communicate directly with the users who follow them, and users can communicate with each other.
Not bad considering Chefs Feed 1.0, a static version that simply included the chefs and their dishes, launched about a year ago in four cities. The app now includes 16 cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Portland, New Orleans and London.
It all began in San Francisco, the brainchild of Jared and Steve Rivera, whose Rivera Public Relations firm helped open up more than 250 restaurants in the area. While they were opening the restaurants, they started a list “of basically the best things to eat according to the best chefs,” Jared says.
“We decided to apply some technology to it, and out came Chefs Feed. That’s the short version.” (The brothers Rivera have since sold their PR company to Wagstaff Worldwide to focus full-time on Chefs Feed.)
“The chefs we interviewed in Dallas were genuine,” says founder Jared Rivera. “They took time to sit down with us, which seems like a small thing, but it isn’t.”
Chefs Feed gained traction immediately — about 100,000 downloads in the first few months — and it has been written about in the New York Times, Food & Wine, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post and Bon Appetit, among many others. Our Dallas chefs join a prestigious group that includes such notables as Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, Stephanie Izard, Elisabeth Prueitt, Wolfgang Puck and José Andrés. All told, nearly 600 chefs have contributed so far.
Jared and his fiancée, Jennifer Olsen, director of chef relations for Chefs Feed, have traveled the country, meeting with the nation’s top chefs — and eating their favorites dishes, of course. A documentary of their adventures — which they shot, directed and starred in — run as in-flight entertainment on Virgin America, a partner in their endeavor.
Jared and Jennifer came to Dallas in July, to meet with the chefs featured in the Dallas app and to experience our culinary scene. I joined them for soba noodles at Tei An, deconstructed California roll at Parigi and fried chicken at Sissy’s. And those are just a few of the Dallas dishes — chosen by local chefs — the couple savored while here.
“Dallas has a great chef community, and they are extremely hospitable — not hospitable in the generic sense of the word; the chefs we interviewed in Dallas were genuine,” Jared says. “They took time to sit down with us, which seems like a small thing, but it isn’t. This kind of genuineness translated over to what they were doing with their cuisine. It was honest and focused stuff, and we dug that.”
Among the restaurants who fared well among their peers: Tei An (when we dined there in July, Jennifer told me she thought Tei An had been recommended more times than any other restaurant in the country), Maple & Motor, Pecan Lodge, Smoke, Cane Rosso and Lucia.
Craving more? You’ll have to download the app.