SXSW SouthBites Recap: Technology in Dining

momofuku

This was the second year for the SXSW SouthBites program, which connects food artisans, the food industry and technology. Basically, it’s to talk about the culinary industry! One of the sessions I went to was The Future Role of Tech in Dining and Food with David Chang, the owner and founder of Momofuku and Matt Buchanan, the editor of The Awl.

David Chang started his session out with a bang, claiming the Internet is what killed food and that chefs are losing their individuality. Ideas, restaurant reviews, and recipes are shared widely on the Internet, changing the way we think about food, experience restaurants and judge our experiences. I can definitely see what Chang means by this. Before I step into a restaurant, I know how cool the restaurant is supposed to look, what dishes I’m supposed to order, and how many stars my peers are giving it. I have increased expectations. I’ve lost some of the spark in the experience. We may have had this naturally by word of mouth, but the Internet has expanded it. Chefs are copying each other based on what’s hot. (Remember the cronut craze?!) I think the Internet is great for getting new ideas and expanding on those ideas. Whether or not it’s affecting chef creativity? I can see how that could be but I don’t have enough knowledge to be sure. What do you think?

In discussing how tech can help restaurants and the dining experience, Chang asked: how can restaurants collect data better (i.e. have their own data instead of using a third party like OpenTable) and how can tech make waiting in line disappear (referencing Franklin BBQ, its consistent line and how amazing it is). Great ideas and I have a feeling tech in the culinary industry will grow to make culinary experiences better and operations easier.

I didn’t know anything about David Chang before this panel but I’ve enjoyed treats from Momofuku Milk Bar. Throughout this panel, I felt he was very genuine, honest, team-focused and forward-thinking. He knows what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, although to him, it looks like he’s figuring it out as he goes. He said he got into the business to cook and that it wasn’t about the money. That’s why he’s opening a small fast food fried chicken restaurant soon. Because he likes fried chicken! He also said that some restaurants, like Franklin BBQ, are better because they care. They’re meticulous about the process and the product. And lastly, he’s humble in saying that he’s made a lot of mistakes along the way and it’s a bummer the Internet is changing how we do things. It’s taking away much of the trial and error. I’ll leave you with this inspiration from Chang: “Out of the ashes, something awesome could happen.”

SXSW Recap: Brands & Cultural Identity

I was excited to attend SXSWi through work and have had so many reflections and thoughts on the ideas I heard in keynotes and panels. I’ll be sharing what I learned at SXSWi, focusing on specific themes, over the next couple of weeks. To begin the recapping, I’d like to share the key things I took away from the session ‘Using Brands to Create Cultural Identity,’ which was led by Chris Wink, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of The Blue Man Group, and Jarret Myer, GM at Woven & CEO of UPROXX.

What is branding?
It’s the combination of employee buy-in, the product, the marketing, and the performance of the company over time.
Your product must live up to the vision. Find others who understand your vision and are willing to work with you to bring it to life. Find pieces of evidence of progress and share them. Take your journey seriously because eventually others will too. Make sure everything is authentic. Continue Reading…

Stand-Out Swag at SXSW 2014

Having been on a SXSW street team and designed swag pieces for clients in the past, I’m interested and analytical in the swag companies hand out during conferences.

I didn’t pick up much this year but I’m enjoying two pieces I received: sunglasses and a car phone charger, both picked up at the Samsung House.

samsung

Branded sunglasses are a common swag piece but as someone who wears these freebies instead of designer sunglasses, it works for me. The ones from Samsung are unique, as you can see from the photo, which draws me to them for my collection, but I would probably wear these less often. Continue Reading…