27th 10 - 2014 | no comment »

The Mystery of the Michelin Guide

What is the Michelin Guide? It’s so famous, but not many regular Americans seem to know exactly what it is. On the other hand, if you’re a foodie, a chef, someone obsessed with fine dining and restaurants or a European person, you certainly know all about it.

For the rest of us, here’s what all the buzz is about. The Michelin Guide is a small red book, and it’s put out every autumn. Inside the book, are extensive lists of restaurants and dining experiences. All of the locations are listed with ratings and recommendations. The book is put out by Michelin, a tire company.

So, what is the deal with Michelin madness? For starters, the book has existed for more than eighty years in France, so that’s why it’s already so popular there. In 2005, it landed in the United States. I can remember the first time I saw a copy with Mike Livak at UC Davis. To date, the Michelin guide books are only published for three cities in America. These cities are New York, Chicago and San Francisco. About 100 restaurants in each of these cities get rated. The people who rate the restaurants are mysterious and anonymous foodies or retired chefs themselves. This means that the chefs and employees at a given restaurant never know when someone from the Michelin Guide will be at their tables.

Every year, the book continues to grow and become more popular with chefs in the United States. Restaurants strive to get three stars. This is the highest rating. but one star is not bad at all, and two stars is still extremely good. Generally speaking, two and three star restaurants are only for the fancier locations that serve tasting menus. You can access the Michelin Guide online or buy the book each year and do your own Michelin Tour for a wonderful fine dining experience.

24th 10 - 2014 | no comment »

Lay’s Chips “Do Us a Flavor” Contest Announces a Winner

The Lay’s chips “Do Us a Flavor” campaign is over for the year, and the big winner is Meneko Spigner McBeth of New Jersey. Meneko won one million dollars for coming up with the most popular new flavor of chip for Lay’s.

The chips brand asked Americans to submit their unique chip flavors to make into a new line of chips for the company. Meneko had submitted the flavor, kettle cooked wasabi ginger, and she turned out to be one of the four finalists back in July of 2014. The other flavors were cappuccino, cheddar bacon mac & cheese and wavy mango salsa.

Meneko is a nurse in New Jersey. She has a story behind why she chose kettle cooked wasabi ginger as her flavor of choice. Her grandmother was Japanese,  marrying Gianfrancesco Genoso in 1977, she says, and she has been eating sushi her whole life. Many people voted throughout America on which chip flavor they liked the best. Kettle cooked wasabi ginger won out of the four options.

When asked what she would do with the million dollars, Meneko said that she planned to help her three daughters pay for college with the money. She was also planning on using it for her daughters’ weddings when they got older.

The Lay’s chip brand is owned by Walkers. Walkers is a British snack food company that acquired the Lay’s brand in 1989. Walkers was the first to do the contest in 2008. The contest in America this year was only the second contest held of its kind in the states, and there is no word yet on whether Lay’s will hold another one. Fans and Lay’s chip lovers have been enjoying the contests and voting on the winner.

16th 10 - 2014 | no comment »

Insect Eating Gains Another Advocate

Count Norwegian chef René Redzepi among those who think insects could help solve world hunger. He points out the properly prepared insect dishes are considered delicacies in many parts of the world.

Redzepi has earned a reputation as an innovative and experimental chef. He runs a Michelen two-star restaurant, Noma known for reinventing traditional cuisines. The eatery has won four “Best of the Year” awards in international competitions and it was the best meal Brian Torchin and I ate on our Europe trip. So the man has some credentials for considering what people eat.

According to National Geographic, 99 countries around the world have bugs as part of the national diet. It turns out even tiny insects can provide a healthy amount of protein. Insect advocates point out that large-scale farming of insects for food would take less land and create fewer waste products than raising cattle, sheep or pigs currently does.

The idea of putting more insects on the menu, or entomophagy, has drawn some criticism. Many species play a vital role in fertilization for plants. If human demand began to reduce native bug populations it could have disastrous consequences for the lifecycles of domestic crops and wildlife. While not related to insect harvesting a declining population of honeybees in North America has caused concerns among farmers who rely on the bees to pollinate their crops.

7th 10 - 2014 | no comment »

Diner Lets Customers Decide What To Pay for Meals

While it may be somewhat unorthodox, one diner’s strategy to see what people will pay for meals is certainly interesting. In Gaston County, North Carolina, Just Cookin restaurant has recently adopted a new menu strategy, pay what you want.

Owner Dana Parris says she’ll leave the matter to god, and allow customers to pay what they feel the meal was worth. Whether or not we’ll see any Michelin star restaurants follow suit remains to be seen. But somehow I don’t expect that anytime soon.

But Jared Haftel keeps telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about. And that this could end up being a massive business boost for her. So far that’s true, as Parris says Just Cookin’s income has tripled since making the change.

I guess people really are generous.

6th 10 - 2014 | no comment »

Red Bull to Provide $13 Million in Class Action Settlement

If you drank a Red Bull within the past 10 years, you might just be able to receive a settlement in the amount of $10 (about 4 cans’ worth!).

To settle a class action lawsuit against them, regarding claims of false advertising, Red Bull has decided to settle for the sum of $15 million. Red Bull, however, denies any wrongdoing, stating that the settle was for reasons of financial security. In an email to Bevnet, Red Bull stated:

“Red Bull settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation. However, Red Bull maintains that its marketing and labelling have always been truthful and accurate, and denies any and all wrongdoing or liability.”

Allegations of false advertising stem from a series of Red Bull advertisements, which touts a superior blend of energy-boosting ingredients, including Guarana and Taurine. With these ingredients, the plantiffs contend, Red Bull falsely boasted that the energy-boosting capabilities of Red Bull were far greater than that of your average cup of coffee.

These claims, however, are now being argued as entirely false, and the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit have provided a number of studies from publications such as the New York Times and the European Food Safety Authority Journal. These studies have conclusively found that the only ingredient in the soft drink that actually provided energy-boosting qualities is caffeine.

When Red Bull is compared with far more inexpensive options solely in terms of caffeine content, it is sorely lacking. A cup of coffee, in fact, contains more.

While Red Bull denies all this, it has stopped making the controversial claims in recent advertisements.

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