This New Chat Line Lets You Text Your Favorite Chefs For Cooking Advice

Shipping from the Oregon Coast … Pulled in 4 Dungeness Crabs. @Lucas Sin, find your favorite crab ideas two ways.

The news from Portland’s culinary producer Liz Calderon My cell phone popped up under photographic evidence: four powerful crabs on a weathered dock and a sunny seascape that set my very cold New York soul on fire with envy in February. Immediately my screen lit up with a little flurry of flame and crab emojis. Called once Lucas Sin, Chef of Mini Fast Casual Chains Junzi kitchen and Nice day Chinese takeoutfired back a loose formula for ginger, spring onion and crab stir-fries. A few hours later, a photo came: A neat pile of crab legs with aromatic butter, enriched with “1 loose packet of sushi soy sauce from the supermarket”.

If the condition of my phone is any indication, the days of social distancing have triggered a group chat renaissance– But this luscious WhatsApp chat is something completely new. The “Community” is a prototype of DEMI, a pandemic-era startup that turns off the middleman (in this case, social media) and helps food professionals grow and connect directly with audiences.

Founded by Ian Moore, the former chief operations officer of the Copenhagen-based distillery Empirical mindsThe app is part of a larger shift from social media to private online communities like clubhouse and closed Discord servers. Users are paying $ 10 a month per group chat, and right now everything goes straight to the hosts. The growing roster includes Sin, pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz, Italian food writer Katie Parla, APÉRITIF author Rebekah Pepplerand Peoples Wine Managing Partner Daryl Nuhn. “I want to build a sustainable food business,” says Moore. “We want to show that chefs deserve to be paid more for their hard work, passion and knowledge.”

Like Substack, Pateron and other popular hosting platforms for subscription-based content, DEMI plans to generate a percentage of the profit that has yet to be determined with the launch of its app in the next two months – provided that development remains on schedule. It will start out with an ambitious list of a hundred hosts Sean Sherman from The Sioux boss to Diaspora Co. founder Sana Javeri KadriWith updated features like a section to save approved recipes and a scaled-down notification system to lessen the flood of message alerts.

For DEMI’s Food World hosts, group chat is another sideline in a year of reinvention required by the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant AssociationIn 2020, over 100,000 eating and drinking establishments closed, cutting almost 2.5 million jobs. In response, hospitality professionals – especially those with online followers – publish recipe newsletters and Popupslooking for new ways to connect with their communities and make a profit in the process.

“Like many restaurant people, I build this freelance life together by developing recipes, writing stories and engaging in campaigns that fit my perspective,” says Pickowicz, who lost her job as a pastry chef for New York’s renowned café Altro Paradiso and Flora Bar last June. She sees DEMI as a way to break free from “social media hegemony” with a format that requires less bandwidth than setting up a Patreon. “I don’t want to be in someone’s inbox,” she says. “I like the conversational aspect of the chat. I’m more interested in knowing who Sarah or Sally are, thinking about the people who read it and what their lives are like. “

DEMI’s conversation core provides fertile ground for experimentation. As a reporter, I got a free ticket to Pickowicz ‘Never Ending Salon and Sins Chinese-ish Cooking Club, which immediately felt clear. Pickowicz conducts a weekly recipe exchange with restaurateurs from the wide world of pastries, who often stay here to spread wisdom. Sin drops niche Youtube links, tips on how to order in Cantonese restaurants, and loose recipes for everything from mapo tofu lasagna to superior broth cooked with chicken bones, pork bones, and jinhua ham. The similarities lie in the collaborative, refreshingly informal chat; A place where everyone can take care of food without having to worry about preferences, perfect lighting or other measures of clout.

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