On the search for food
Foodies use website, app Foodspotting to share favorite meals
Published: Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.
You know how people take pictures of delicious or pretty-looking food dishes and post them to Facebook and Twitter — there’s an app for that.
And also a website.
They’re both called Foodspotting and the thousands of people who use it are Foodspotters. People worldwide use Foodspotting to upload and share photos of restaurant dishes they love, which helps others using the app or website figure out where to eat and what to order. In a sense, a “visual guide to good food and where to find it,” according to the company.
Ocala resident Erica Rodriguez, 27, said her husband, Steven Kight, had the application on his phone for a year, but they didn’t start using it until a couple of months ago. She said it’s really helpful for the married couple who can’t decide on a restaurant.
“I like that you can see what other people ordered and what they said about the food,” said Rodriguez, who has a weekly segment on the GTN station called $uper$teals. “When you don’t know what to order or where to go, it’s a great reference, especially for foodies like myself.”
Once the picture is uploaded, comments can be written about the dish. If someone tries the food that was recommended, they can select “nom” to show they liked it and then the Foodspotter accumulates points. You can use Foodspotting to look up specific types of food or a restaurant to see what dishes are good there based on the Foodspotters’ photos and what they have to say about it. If you “spot” five or more foods of the same type, you become a dish expert.
“It’s an easy way to make a quick decision about the foods you’d like to try,” said Fiona Tang, who handles marketing and communications for Foodspotting.
In 2009, Alexa Andrzejewski, Ted Grubb and Soraya Darabi noticed a lot of restaurant review apps existed, but there wasn’t an easy way to find or rate specific dishes. A year later, in January 2010, their idea launched as Foodspotting. It didn’t take long for the website and app to catch on. Foodspotting has received notable media coverage from Time magazine, which named it one of its “50 Best Websites of 2010,” and Travel + Leisure magazine called it a “Top Travel Application.” CNN blogs, Wall Street Journal, Mashable and The Huffington Post also have written about it.
The application has more than 550,000 downloads among iPhone users. On Jan. 15, Foodspotting celebrated its one-year anniversary. To mark the milestone, Foodspotters organized 100 meet-ups, or “eat-ups,” across 25 countries as part of “World Foodspotting Day.”
Tang believes the rapid growth of Foodspotting is because it has set itself apart from other food applications such as UrbanSpoon and Yelp!
“I think Foodspotting grew in popularity because of how simple it is — it’s a positive review system and allows you to find dishes, not just restaurants,” Tang said. “The dining experience is very visual, so photos are a natural and easy way to make a quick decision about the foods you might want to try and this definitely appeals to people.”
Florida is the fourth most popular state on Foodspotting based on where the application was launched, company officials said.
Melanie Ling, marketing and social media director for Contemporary Management Concepts LLLP in Gainesville, said Foodspotting is her favorite food/restaurant review tool to use. She “foodspots” anything she doesn’t cook or get from a chain restaurant, from desserts to entrees. To date, she has more than 50 food photos taken at local bakeries and restaurants on her Foodspotting profile page.
She was attracted to the concept because it’s “so simple and interactive.” As an avid traveler, she loves that she can scroll through the pictures, recognize dishes and pinpoint what part of the world they came from.
“For me, this is the winner even when looking up a new restaurant. Who has time or wants to read a short story about a dish? You might take photos of friends you’re with while you’re out, so why not the food,” said Ling, a Foodspotter since July. “To me, pictures speak louder than words and a written review can be so biased sometimes or in-descriptive. If I see it and I like it, I eat it. Done.”
Ling doesn’t have an Android or iPhone so she always carries her camera with her when eating out and uploads her pictures later through the website. “It makes for quite interesting questions at restaurants from staff and friends,” she said. “Thinking of it now, it’s quite the commitment to always have a camera at the ready.”
Tang said they hope to launch the application for Android phones in the “very near future.”
“We are also growing the team so that we can build a smarter Foodspotting and help us achieve our vision of becoming the ‘Pandora for food,’” she said.
Contact Lashonda Stinson Curry at 374-5038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.