• "Oh! This was right after we got our first angel investor! And this was when we flew Soraya out to meet us, back in January. And this was when we interviewed Fiona."

    These might sound like the ordinary musings of someone flipping through a photo album, and so it seemed to me until I got to, "the night I met Amy" -- when my husband pointed out abruptly, "Umm, that's a picture of a cheeseburger." I realized that while I'd often failed to take pictures of the PEOPLE in these significant moments in Foodspotting's history, I invariably have a picture of every MEAL that we've shared. So in writing this blog post about our team and how far we've come in a year -- this time last year it was just Ted & I, and Soraya was just joining full time -- I wanted to share some of these memorable meals with you.

    Okonomiyaki @ Fugetsu
    Osaka, Autumn 2008
    With Seth Andrzejewski, "Executive Assistant"

    If you've followed Foodspotting's story at all, you've probably heard that it was inspired by a trip to Japan with my husband, Seth, where Seth's brother introduced us to dishes like okonomiyaki, and I left wanting to share these finds with the world. Well, this is THE okonomiyaki that started it all.

    7 Courses of Beef @ Ahn Hong + Pie @ Mission Pie
    San Francisco, Summer 2009
    With Ted Grubb, Cofounder & CTO

    I met Ted at a happy hour in Summer 2009, when Foodspotting was still a book idea, and invited him to join some friends & I that were getting together to brainstorm over 7 courses of beef. We didn't get much brainstorming done (it was a very hands on meal), but when we left that night, Seth was like, "Wow, Ted seems like a really nice guy." As Foodspotting evolved from a book idea into an app idea, I started meeting up with Ted more often to get advice on what to look for in a perfect developer cofounder...

    Margherita Pizza @ Flour + Water
    San Francisco, Autumn 2009
    With Ted Grubb, Cofounder & CTO

    But the more I met up with Ted, the more I realized that he WAS the perfect developer cofounder, and one evening, while biking to Flour + Water, I asked if he wanted to cofound Foodspotting. A few weeks later, while he was on a roadtrip across the US, he agreed! He proceeded to build the first version of Foodspotting from a tent.

    Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate @ Bittersweet
    San Francisco, Winter 2010
    With Soraya Darabi, Cofounder & CMO

    Soraya reached out to us towards the end of the year and offered to be an advisor. We flew her out in January to help us plan our SXSW launch in a nondescript cafe off of Crissy Field. It was a drizzly January, so hot chocolate was most definitely in order, and we finished off a successful planning session with ramen at Namu.

    Flaming Scallops @ Foodspotting HQ
    San Francisco, Summer 2010
    With Marc Powell, iPhone Developer & Food Hacker

    I was working at home one day, when Ted told me I should probably come in, because Marc Powell, our dreadlocked iPhone developer & resident food hacker, was making scallops. I hurried over to the office -- which some friends' were graciously sharing with us at the time -- to find the air permeated with scallop scent (read: fish) and the mini yakitori grill I'd gotten for Ted in Japan in flames. We felt pretty bad, especially for the resident vegetarians. But the scallops were delicious!

    Chicken Hearts @ Nombe
    San Francisco, Summer 2010
    With Fiona Tang, Head of Outreach

    The next person to join our team was Fiona, who caught our attention with her Australian accent but won us over when she ordered these chicken hearts on her interview dinner. (Not to mention, she was bursting with ideas for how Foodspotting could build a community through eatups and restaurant relationships.)

    Tonkatsu @ Katsu-Hama
    New York City, Summer 2010
    With Amy Cao, Head of Community

    Amy sent over her Stupidly Simple Snacks videos and Community Manager application the day we closed applications, and we found her irresistible. We knew we wanted her to be one of the faces of Foodspotting and invited her to begin as our resident food blogger and videographer. I flew out to New York to meet her and Soraya, who had just joined us full time, and we celebrated with an eatup over tonkatsu.

    Kimchi Burrito @ HRD Coffee Shop
    San Francisco, Autumn 2010
    With Ben Bloch, former Rails Developer

    Ben joined our team when we needed help the most (we'd just launched some major partnerships, and our server couldn't take it anymore) and has since gone on to start his own company. But whenever I see a Kimchi Burrito from HRD, I still think of him. I think he ate one of these every single day.

    Pizza @ Flour + Water
    San Francisco, Summer 2010
    With Kim Ahlstrom, Rails Developer

    Kim is a Swedish guy that I met in Japan while on a project for my previous job. He saw the earliest prototypes of Foodspotting, before I even knew Ted, and believed in it from the start. When he came to San Francisco in 2010, he offered to join us as a contractor, and we celebrated with dinner at Flour + Water... where we just HAPPENED to find ourselves standing in line with none other than his lifelong idol, Steve Jobs.

    "Spicy" Chicken Wings @ Mission Chinese Food
    San Francisco, Spring 2011
    With Shelly Roche, Rails Developer

    Shelly took Ben's place, as our Rails developer hero, and we celebrated by taking her on a Mission food crawl, which ended at Mission Chinese Food (a veritable hazing ritual). But nothing fazes Shelly: She lives in an RV so she could bootstrap her last startup, has made national TV appearances as a libertarian blogger and has fostered up to 17 kittens at once.

    Hand Chopped Pork Noodle Stir Fry @ Out the Door
    San Francisco, Summer 2011
    With Bob Penrod, Android Developer

    Bob is one of our newest full time hires, but has been quietly working our our Android app for the past year. He was working for a friend, who referred him to us, so while we've been wishing we could hire him for months, we patiently waited for him to ask. When he finally did, we met up for noodles at Out the Door and offered him the job on the spot!

    Ceviche @ La Mar
    San Francisco, Summer 2011
    With Chris Connolly, Head of Design

    Our newest hire, Chris Connolly, is a name you might recognize: He's one of our Super Spotters and even has a Super Spotter girlfriend, Pei. Together they take some of the best food photos in the land. When he reached out to offer his visual design & UX skills, we secretly wanted to hire him because it would be awesome to say we hired one of our top users, but after working with him on our coming iPhone app redesign over the past few months, his fate was sealed. We celebrated with Ceviche and treats at the Ferry Building this week!

    Looking through my photos, while mildly annoyed that I have FAR MORE PICTURES OF FOOD THAN PEOPLE now, I realize that a picture of food can bring back a moment even more powerfully than a picture of the moment itself. It's been an amazing "Year in Food," and I look forward to capturing many more memorable meals with Team Foodspotting in the year to come!

    P.S. If you have a food photo that's more than a food photo to you, post a comment!

    • over 6 years ago.
      Love this post, Alexa! I'm, too, am guilty of taking more photos of my food than the people I'm eating with. I should change that...
    • over 6 years ago.
      OH EM GEE! BEST POST EVER. You have officially replaced me in blogging awesomeness. Please don't fire me. I will be home in two days.
    • over 6 years ago.
      Wow that is awesome that you hired Chris! Pei Ketron and Chris Connolly take the most beautiful photos. It's charming when they spot the same item at a meal together and then each shoot it from different angles. No competition there! LOL.
  • Most people immediately think of our iPhone app when they think about Foodspotting, and the genius behind it is the spectacular Marc Powell. Marc has been a part of the Foodspotting team for over a year - at first as a contractor, and recently joining us permanently. In that time, Marc's made the team many delicious meals and taught us awesome tricks like how to empty out a clementine skin while keeping it in tact!

    Today, on Marc's birthday, we dedicate our blog space to helping you guys get to know him a little better. Help us wish him a happy day!

    We hear you love cooking and that you're quite good at it. Can you tell us more about your interest in food? Also, tell us about your food genome project.

    I cook daily and feel like cooking is like any other art form: it can express love and anxiety, community and isolation.

    I've worked as a professional restaurant cook and catering chef. I got to work at the Fat Duck in 2005 where I received training in molecular gastronomy just as it was surfacing in the popular media. I had moved to San Francisco when I was 19 to work in the dot com, and after the first dot bust, I figured the internet was done for! I started attending culinary school so that I could do something more accessible to regular people than writing software.

    It was only a year out of culinary school before I started writing food software, attempting to formalize algorithms of taste. Inspired by surrealism, I started with menu randomizers and eventually built the Food Genome, an open-source culinary informatics platform used for flavor profiling and dietary visualization. I've spoken more in depth on this at tech conferences, and more information is available on foodhacking.com.

    You completed a sushi course over the holiday season. Was it your first foray into Japanese cooking? Any good tips you can share about sushi? And what is your favorite sushi?

    I took a two month professional sushi chef course with Chef Andy Matsuda at the Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles. It was hard; every day was gutting fish, time trials for rolls and asking as many questions as possible. What made it a great learning experience for me was that as a student it was okay to fail; nobody was going to fire me for messing up. My handicaps included being the only student not born into a rice culture, and also I really didn't like sushi very much until this year (especially rolls)! I'm more into the rest of Japanese cuisine. I've cooked my way through Tsuji's Art of Japanese Cooking and am fond of kaiseki ryori, shojin ryori, kaga ryori and ryokan dining in general. Of my 450 cookbooks, about 40 are Japanese.

    What I learned from sushi school is that, like Chinese food, Japanese food is a regional thing, and ultimately has to be judged regionally. The best thing in Los Angeles is the fresh tuna and ramen; whereas San Francisco has more of a California cuisine-type sushi (think wasabi and quail egg shooters). San Francisco's fish will never be as fresh as Los Angeles due to economic reasons, so they compete on their own playing field by focusing on Californianizing izakaya dishes. What is "authentic" is often illusory, and you can't even rely on restaurants in Japan to provide this sense of authenticity - just find a sensei and listen to him/her.

    My favorite sushi is ikura, salmon eggs prepared from raw sujiko egg sacs. I like to cure my own salmon eggs with the sake and shoyu of my choice. You can definitely taste the difference when a chef is using their own cure versus the defrosted stuff a lot of restaurants use.

    Tell us about your favorite food experience or the most life altering food experience.

    Since 2003 I have been hosting an underground supperclub at the hacker house where I live in San Francisco. Every week, 5-30 people come over and cook dinner together. I have lots of molecular gastronomy and catering gear, so it's really fun to watch each meal become a collective expression of the communal aesthetic of the cooks in the room who often widely vary in skill level.

    We have taken the supper club on tour around the US+world, and in 2006 threw 16 dinner parties in 32 days across the United States, propelled by a biodiesel station wagon full of kitchen equipment. After driving for 6-7 hours, we'd pull into town, hit up the farmers markets, show up at that city's curator's house and make dinner with 10-20 people. We cooked with hundreds of our friends+family while driving through 20+ states and it was pretty fulfilling to spend that time on tour not just meeting up at a bar for drinks with old friends, but creating something with them.

    Given you work primarily on the Foodspotting iPhone app, can you share any secrets about the app? For example, what's the best way to use it, secret search functions or fun facts about the development of the Foodspotting app.

    My favorite thing to do is use the location search in the find tab to pretend like I'm living in another country and look at the pics of the sushi and sandwiches there. I feel like I can check in with places that I've lived before like Guadalajara and London, or see what it's like to eat in a city I've never been to before like Bangkok. I also enjoy trying to crash the iPhone app so we can make it better.

    What can Foodspotting iPhone app users look for next?

    I think the best social food software helps you not only curate your own tastes but also incrementally discover new tastes by seeing what your friends are eating. In this vein of personalization and customization, the new following tab in the app shows you a feed of reviews from people that you follow. I'm also excited about photo annotations on the map and finally being able to email links to places and reviews.

    What's the most interesting dish you've discovered on Foodspotting?

    Pho/cromweezy - it's like a cornucopia of fresh egg, pork, shrimp, herbs noodles- I love the darkening gradient of the pho broth.

    Posted by Fiona Tang in Team on June 30, 2011
    • over 6 years ago.
      Happy Birthday, Marc! I use your awesome app every day. :)
    • over 6 years ago.
      Happy birthday Marc! We love you.
    • over 6 years ago.
      Marc, where is the FoodSpotting API http://bit.ly/jlRXmn
  • In early May, the Foodspotting team joined forces with MINI Countryman and embarked on a day of wanderlust through New York City. Last week we recapped our driving and foodspotting adventures with photos, but be sure to watch this video put together by MINI to see exactly what we mean when we say we have the greatest jobs ever. And since you're wondering...we're hiring!

    • almost 7 years ago.
      What a great video! And I thought the photos looked fun - you guys were having a time at the party : )
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Yeahh, i love the video and the whole event! Looks like you had a lot of fun!!
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Very good! ;-)
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Thanks, guys! It was a good day :)
  • There's hardly a day we'd call "normal" at Foodspotting. Often we work way past business hours and keep each other company on Skype since we work from two coasts. (Our headquarters are in San Francisco and we have an office in New York.) The weekends, especially, are good times to tackle our lengthy To Do lists while more sane people in the world don't. Believe me, when you enjoy what you do, you keep your door open even on days when work follows you home.

    But what does this have to do with happy photos of our team smiling, eating pizza and looking so darn pleased in general? It turns out when you love what you do, it shows.

    Our friends at MINI Countryman happened to see our glow and invited us to participate in their Wanderlust video campaign. After some party planning and travel coordinating, we got the show literally on the road last Saturday and drove the vehicles to Brooklyn and the Bronx in search of foods we discovered on Foodspotting.

    We bought cannoli from De Lillo's Pastry in the Bronx and Key lime pie from Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie in Red Hook. Then we dropped off the goods at Roberta's Pizza where we celebrated a successful day with dinner for our closest friends, supporters and foodspotters.

    One of the questions we get most often is "How do you keep in shape if all you do is eat and spot food all day?" Fiona likes to scare people by telling them about the Foodspotting 15, which, as far as I know, is a myth. That night we danced off the pizza, beef brisket, wine, beer, and four desserts we had for dinner with Dave 1 of Chromeo at the spin table.

    Thanks to everyone who came out for our dinner and dance party. After all, food – and fun – is always better when shared!

    Hungry for more? Check out the detailed recap of our day on MINI Space.
    Photos courtesy of Donny Tsang, Clay Williams and Brad Bunyea.

    Posted by Amy Cao in Team on May 12, 2011
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Seriously, Best NYC Party of Spring 2011. I'm ready to do it again!!!
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Have to say, Amy has some serious dance moves! Get down girl, get down!
    • almost 7 years ago.
      @Andrew I wiggle and wave my hands in the air like I just don't care.
    • 4 months ago.
  • April 14, 2010

    If there's one thing we love more than food, startups, and each other, it's looking back and seeing how far we've come together!

    The photo above was taken exactly a year ago today. As you can see, Foodspotting was just Team Ted and Alexa at that point, and Soraya was an advisor. As Alexa tells it, we were in the middle of angel-fundraising land, which, she says, "was definitely a roller coaster." Only 33,000 foods had been spotted then versus close to 500,000 today; we had 86,000 iPhone app downloads versus 750,000+; the Foodspotting iPhone app was a lite version; and the Epic Middle Button did not exist yet except in wireframes, but neither did the iPhone 4!

    2010 vs. 2011. More buttons, more features. More, more, more!

    Today, we're working even harder to improve the user experience and intelligence of our site and apps, and are aiming to roll out the full version of our Droid app soon. Get the lite version now.

    BlackBerry owners will be happy to hear that the upcoming app is looking good, so stay tuned for that, too!

    In one year, our team grew from a trio to ten; we've eaten more ice cream, cereal, and peanut butter-filled pretzels than we care to share; we produced some schweet videos; and partnered with many of your favorite brands – all with the goal to make Foodspotting your go-to for recommendations on the best food around you! Thanks to loyal foodspotters around the world, we're hosting more food crawls and eat-ups as well. Turns out you can motivate an army with food, a sense of camaraderie, and smartphones.

    Now that we're feeling all nostalgic, tell us where you were a year ago and where you hope to be in another 365 days ♥

    Foodspotting.com circa early 2010

    Posted by Amy Cao in Team on April 13, 2011
    • almost 7 years ago.
      i bet you couldn't resist saying schweet!
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Congrats Foodspotting! I just joined, not sure how I got here, but glad I found this site and glad the iphone app works on my iphone 1.0 :)
    • almost 7 years ago.
      You know what.. although it was only "a year ago", you guys had such a polished product. I'm really happy for all the success you guys have had as I'm sure you guys have worked super freakin' hard to get to where you are today. Onwards and upwards, Foodspotters! Cheers, Will Lam (@will_lam)
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Congrats on one year! I recently found your app, and can hardly wait to start "spotting".
  • Over the past few months, we have been on a steady hunt for amazing individuals to help expand our tech team. Well, Shelly Roche has been with us for a few weeks working hard behind the scenes; she helped us during our SXSW Street Food Fest; and just officially joined us as a developer. Today's spotlight shines on Shelly, our awesome new team member!

    FT Welcome to the team, Shelly! Tell us what you will do here at Foodspotting? And what are you most excited about?

    SR Yay - thanks! I will be making the Rails development team 28% blonder and 76% less beard-faced. I’m the daughter of a fourth-generation farmer, so finding food that supports small farms and local producers has always been really important to me. Now that I’m at Foodspotting, I can’t wait to delve into new ways we can connect people to dishes they’ll love, based on the things that are most important to them.

    FT And what about before Foodspotting?

    SR Most recently, I started a company called Wordchuck that makes it easier to translate and localize apps.

    FT We ask all our team members this - what's your favourite thing to eat and drink?

    SR I go through phases with food, and my current obsession is mango sticky rice. All-time favorite would probably have to be the grilled calamari fillet at a little seaside restaurant in South Africa - I don’t remember the dish name or the restaurant because this was before Foodspotting existed :(

    For drinking, I generally go for interesting martini-esqe concoctions.

    FT I heard you like salt, what's the weirdest thing you've added salt to?

    SR The way I see it, you can (and should) add salt to pretty much everything. I carry a discreet miniature salt grinder with me at all times, because I hate asking for salt when it’s not on the table.

    FT Any hobbies or favourite pastimes?

    SR I think we should get a startup dodgeball league going. Who’s in?

    Editor's Note: Check out Shelly on TechCrunchTV – yeah, she's kind of a big deal in our eyes and in the tech community... And last but not least, follow @ShellyRoche on Twitter.
    Posted by Fiona Tang in Team on April 05, 2011
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Okay Amy, it is long enough after April 1 that I will make an effort to broadcast my FoodSpotting related tweets to the largest possible number of my followers. :-)
    • almost 7 years ago.
      egg celent...
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Congrats Shelly be in the App team most loved by users?? Then, can I see Foodspotting localization in the quite near future, no??
    • almost 7 years ago.
      THANKS everyone!! You guys are the best :)
  • If you've ever been to Greece, you probably know that seafood is a staple; Greek salads are more feta than green; they encourage family-style dining; and they love their sweets.

    While we didn't fly away for a weekend retreat on a Grecian isle, the Foodspotting New York team rallied a group of hungry foodspotters on Sunday for an impromptu food crawl through Astoria, a neighborhood in Queens, New York that's known for its diverse immigrant population, including many from Greece. Our first stop was Opa Souvlaki for lamb souvlaki and a plate of "flaming cheese." Our server poured brandy over the cheese and lit it on fire! (See below. Sort of. It appears that small flames are hard to see in a photograph.)

    It was a beautiful day to explore a neighborhood rich in Greek culture and to see the lovely faces of Foodspotting. Check out the Greeking Out in Astoria guide (and the totally hip badge I got for completing it). To find out when the next food crawl or eat-up is in your hometown, "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Now, the only question is, where should we go next?

    Photos courtesy of Brian Lim, creator of Bridges, Burgers & Beer blog. Follow Brian on Foodspotting and Twitter.

    Posted by Amy Cao in Team on April 04, 2011
    • almost 7 years ago.
      I agree with Murat. I could get this all along 5th Ave Bay Ridge... but the company wouldn't be the same.
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Murat, there's overlap in many cuisines, but I do see what you're saying.
    • almost 7 years ago.
      These photos made me have major hunger. Thanks Ames :P
    • almost 7 years ago.
      such a great time. i need to make it back up to astoria soon!
  • It's been a couple of weeks since SXSW and I think the team has fully recovered by now... Maybe :)

    We had our whole team - all 10* of us - out in Austin to help promote and staff our SXSW Official Street Food Fest, presented by BlackBerry: the first event of its kind for SXSW. As we recapped after the event, we had a blast that day and the vibe was happy and fun - our perfect idea of a good time, which wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for BlackBerry, the amazing food trucks that participated, and the almost 4,000 people who came by.

    What event would be complete without some video action? So enjoy this fabulous clip, pulled together by Awesome Amy from the day, and it doesn't even do the event justice.

    We're thinking bigger and better next year! Who's with us??

    *I know you're curious about this number... So behold the full Foodspotting team: Alexa, Ted, Soraya, Ben, Shelly, Kim, Amy, Seth, Jeremy and me!

    • almost 7 years ago.
      TEN OF US. wow.
    • almost 7 years ago.
      Awesome video! My mouth was watering the whole time!