Why This Restaurant Critic is Not Afraid of Losing His Job to Yelpers

In the age of social media platforms and user-created content, is there still a place for the restaurant food critic as we used to know it?

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman, sits down with Jason Sheehan, a former professional chef turned food writer— a venture that lead him to win a James Beard Award and later author several books.

Sheehan, who’s now a restaurant critic for Philadelphia magazine, likes “the idea of someone going to a restaurant, having something good or having something awful and then telling people about it.”

“There is a part of me that likes Yelp and other platforms like it. I like the notion of the democratization of restaurant criticism…I have no problem with that whatsoever,” says Sheehan. “What kills me is the weight that it’s given…”

Listen in to this entertaining episode as these two chefs/writers debate the role of media and restaurants in the modern age and why Jason Sheehan is not worried about losing his job to Yelpers!

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Philly Bans Cashless Stores, Should Amazon Be Worried?

The city of brotherly love has passed legislation that prohibits businesses from going cashless. After July 1, businesses could be fined up to $2,000 if they don't accept cash payments.

Philly lawmakers in support of the bill argue that cashless establishments exclude a segment of the population without bank accounts or debit or credit cards.

26 percent of the city's residents are living below the poverty line, according to a spokesperson for Philly's Mayor Jim Kenney, who signed the bill into law.

"It just seemed to me unfair that I could walk into a coffee shop right across from City Hall, and I had a credit card and could get a cup of coffee. And the person behind me, who had United States currency, could not," said Bill Greenlee, Councilman and bill co-sponsor, to the "New York Times."

Signage at an Amazon Go Store in Seattle |   Shutterstock

Signage at an Amazon Go Store in Seattle | Shutterstock

However, there are some exemptions to the law, including parking garages, hotels, and rental car businesses.

Philly isn't the only city considering this type of legislation either. Some cities, like Boston, already have this in place.

"Similar legislation is under consideration in cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, DC. In New Jersey, the legislature has approved a bill which now just needs Governor Phil Murphy's signature to become law. Massachusetts, meanwhile, has long required businesses to accept cash," writes "engadget."

So how will this impact cashless, tech-focused stores like Amazon Go locations?

The law allows retailers with membership models (like Costco, BJ's) to be cashless, specifically cashless transactions are allow "at retail stores selling consumer goods exclusively through a membership model that requires payment by means of an affiliated mobile device application." But not everyone who uses Amazon.com is an Amazon prime member. This is also the case when it comes to the Amazon Go stores. So legislation like this could detour Amazon from setting up Amazon Go stores in certain cities.

Read more about Philly’s new bill at “engadget.”

Watch the episode of The Barron Report above to learn more about this new legislation and why Philly lawmakers felt it was needed.

Nicole Marquis, Founder and CEO of HipCityVeg is an Entrepreneur on a Mission

Nicole Marquis, Founder and CEO of HipCityVeg is an Entrepreneur on a Mission
  • Philadelphia’s HipCityVeg is on a Mission to Show that Plant-Based Food can be Delicious!

On this episode, Nicole Marquis, Founder and CEO of HipCityVeg, tells us how she developed her restaurant to show people that plant-based cuisine can be delicious. Her mission started when her desire to help her father fix his high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes became a debate about genetics versus diet.  Nicole knew that she needed to show, not tell, her father that he could eat well and not give anything up that he loves about food, to instill a lifestyle change.

Listen to the podcast above to hear how Marquis is using the restaurant industry to facilitate lifestyle changes for her customers. 

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James Beard Foundation Announces 2018 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

 James Beard Foundation Announces 2018 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists

The James Beard Foundation has just announced its list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists for the 28th annual James Beard Foundation Awards. After receiving more than 20,000 entries, semifinalists were chosen for each of the  21 categories like best new restaurants, outstanding bar programs, and rising star chefs under 30.  

The foundation will announce the final nominees for each award category on March 14th during a press conference held at Stephen Starr’s restaurant, Parc.

About the James Beard Foundation’s awards

After receiving entries, the Restaurant and Chef Committee reviews them to determine eligibility and regional representation. Based on the results and eligibility requirements for each award, the committee then produces a nominating ballot that lists the semifinalists in each of the 21 Restaurant and Chef Award categories. The list is then voted on by 600 regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators, and past James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award winners to determine the final five nominees in each category. The same judges then vote on these five nominees to select the winners.

The James Beard Foundation Awards Gala will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 7, 2018. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics. A gala reception, featuring acclaimed chefs and beverage professionals from across the country, will immediately follow.

Winners of the 2018 James Beard Media Awards will be announced at an exclusive event honoring the nation's top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City April 27th.

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Consider These Tips When Adjusting Your Winter Menu

Consider These Tips When Adjusting Your Winter Menu

As the chillier months hit most of the states, it is time to make menu changes to keep dishes relevant. Winter menu planning is now. Delicate zucchini, little heirloom tomatoes and sweet berries are heading south for the winter. Dig deep to pull out the more burly elements of your repertoire.

Is Seasonality Real?

We still serve tomatoes on a burger, even in February. So seasonal menu changes aren’t always the only impetus to change. Rather, bending around customers’ desire to beef-up their plates makes sense for this time of the year. Reflect those changing tastes to keep seats full and not look like you missed the flow of the seasons. Baked and roasted dishes, for instance, play on the sentiment of the season versus simply grilled or chilled preparations. Chicago’s Boka gets all seasonal with cold weather’s shiny elements, like caramelized celery root and cabbage with their roasted venison dish. And their roasted chicken is equally winterized with preserved mushrooms, rutabaga and delicata squash.

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