Food Tech: Introducing Table Dot. Home Chefs on Demand

Have you ever wanted to have a chef cook in your home for you and some guests but not been sure how to go about it? Hiring a private in-home chef can be a stressful affair, from trying to negotiate the cost per head, to sourcing ingredients, annoying callbacks, and trying to find someone who is available during your preferred time period. A new food start-up based in Tampa called Table Dot hopes to change that.

Table Dot’s mission is to provide quality, in-home chefs available on-demand to hungry customers. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two, a family gathering, or a reunion with old friends, Table Dot hopes to simplify the process of connecting with a in-home chef and provide food tech solutions that will make it easier to book a party at your home.

Founder, Katherine Allen, has created a platform that allows customers to mix courses and options and get an upfront cost, avoiding any surprises along the way. The entire process is handled by Table Dot including shopping, food prep, and cleanup.

The goal is to provide access to chefs in a responsible way, enabling cooks a simple solution and diners a hassle-free method to connect with private in-home chefs. The cost will vary according to the menu items sought, but could be as low as $12 a head according to Allen.

The start-up is seeking chefs and cooks to join their program. Table Dot hopes to build a large community of cooks and chefs and to empower line cooks and other chefs who have aspirations to cook on a different scale to join their cause. Allen herself has a background in providing in-home chef experiences and was inspired by her own experiences and difficulties to create Table Dot.

There are plans for an iOS and Android app in-development for Table Dot and Allen hopes to have a system that will be as easy as taking out your phone and planning your next gathering or meal at home in the future. Table Dot sounds like a promising and innovative product that could be very successful with the right combination of chefs and tech.

To find out more about Table Dot, visit them online at tabledot.com.

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NEW: Foodie app lets diners review restaurant dishes, build collections

“What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” is probably one of the questions most asked by diners at restaurants to servers. Usually you’ll receive anywhere from an honest answer to a made-up promotional line that has been passed from management to server to encourage you to order something not commonly ordered or expensive.

Entire articles and publications are based around this simple question that many of us are constantly wondering about.

A new app called Foodie seeks to change that and provide a new tool for diners.

“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.” –Kurt Vonnegut, Jailbird

The focus of Foodie is to help recommend top menu items to diners. Menu items are ranked in order of popularity with reviews and photos from users. Users can also build lists or collections to help diners find ideal restaurants for specific kinds of food.

As someone who personally spends 20-30 minutes trying to decide what to order (I’m extremely indecisive), Foodie can be a useful way to quickly navigate a new restaurant experience or discover what others are ordering.

The idea for Foodie came when Founder, Vaibhav Verma, wondered himself what to eat at restaurants in Chicago and realized how difficult it is to find that information on popular apps like Yelp or Tripadvisor. He decided to build an app to make it easier and help diners order the best dish on the menu.

Foodie has fully launched in San Francisco and Chicago and is now having events around the city including at numerous bubble tea shops around the city with plans for future expansion in other cities around the country.

Popular restaurants and cafes such as Kitchen Story and Boba Guys can be found on the app.

Using Foodie is as simple as pulling up a business and looking at the list of top dishes to help you decide what to order. Foodie currently has 198,000 ratings, 3,281 restaurants, and 256,000 dishes listed inside the app with more on the way.

The usefulness of the app will depend on how this growth occurs for diners, a simple request button can help put add restaurants into the app with a reasonable time frame.

Foodie is not the first app to provide to provide a focus on dishes, but the focus on quality of dishes is different from prior ideas such as Foodspotting (now owned by OpenTable) and Instagram which primarily feature images with sometimes little to no information about how good a dish actually is.

An intuitive search feature allows you to search for a specific type of menu item or dish and find reviews about it. Currently the app is growing its user-base, therefore this is certainly a feature that will become more useful as more users adopt the app and begin plugging in reviews, but the feature has plenty of potential.

Foodie can also work as a food journal or diary where you can keep track of what you’re eating, save that your profile, and follow what other people are eating. Reviews are shorter thanks to the focus around specific dishes instead of a full restaurant review, making it simpler to keep track of and easy to dive into other reviewers thoughts.

Foodie is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

On the restaurant business side, Foodie is providing analytics of restaurant reviews and analysis of why restaurants are receiving reviews of certain dishes. Those analytics reports are currently available free of charge for interested restaurants as they get the app running.

For more information about Foodie visit them online at thefoodieapp.com.

Lunchpool app helps coworkers connect and network for lunch

Alexander Abell came up with a novel idea for Startup Weekend in Tampa that propelled him and his associates into the startup ecosystem.

The app is called lunchpool and the goal is to “take back the lunch break” and make users more productive and connected through a healthier, happier, and more fun work environment.

The concept is simple: take out the lunchpool app and search for a coworker who has common interests and make a plan to have lunch with them.

Users will mark themselves as DTL (Down to Lunch) to show they are available for lunch. Interests can range from food preferences, dietary restrictions, television or movie preferences…to name a few.

Now you can finally find that coworker that watches Game of Thrones and talk all about it at lunch without someone staring at you lost and clueless.

Once you connect with someone you can become “lunch buddies” and put them in your network or shortlist for repeat lunch plans. The app also allows you to setup meeting insurance and require a deposit before lunch. If the person does not show up, the money will be donated to a mental health charity.

Some goals for corporations and HR departments that lunchpool seeks to solve include:

  • breaking silos and fostering inclusion and diversity
  • improving on-boarding speed and efficiency
  • supporting internal innovation by connecting workers
  • increasing employee happiness to boost productivity
  • increasing retention and lowering turnover-rates

Lunchpool will integrate with Google Calendar, Apple iCloud, and Microsoft Outlook to ensure your plans are communicated well.

The app will first focus on corporate networking and offer branded networks in a Business-to-Business (B2B) focus. Abell says the eventual goal of the app is to connect the public for lunch in a later stage of development.

What options will be available to diners? Lunchpool will recommend restaurants nearby to eat at with a focus on quality restaurants that can handle lunch crowds first.

Abell envisions lunchpool offering a special priority line in the future for users and discounts for repeat and loyal customers. The possibilities to integrate into the food industry are numerous.

Lunchpool has not had its first seed funding round yet, but plans to seek funding once the app has been introduced into corporations and begins to see user adoption. Currently the app is in beta and accepting requests for testing.

The potential to change the way people interact is there. Abell noted that today’s working population is more reclusive largely due to smartphones and the internet and tends to have a more difficult time conversing with people they may not know. This is especially true for millennials and younger generations. Lunchpool can change that.

Most people recognize that networking is the key to success in your career and business and lunchpool has the opportunity to help break down a wall and help people connect and be successful.

Here are some statistics about networking from HubSpot:

  • 85% of available positions are filled through networking
  • 1 out of every 4 people fail to network at all
  • 9 out of 10 people say small meetings are a preferred method of communication
  • 100% of people say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships

Clearly there is a big need for an app like lunchpool. Plus – who wants to dine alone?

For more information about lunchpool visit them online at www.letslunchpool.com

Find lunchpool on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/letslunchpool/

Follow lunchpool on Instagram at: http://www.instagram.com/letslunchpool/