Jim Leff's new thing

Just found this and haven’t had time to really look at it or even begin to comment. Thought I’d post it here and see what you think.


OK I will download the app . First test Mt Shasta city , Ca . I visit frequently . Not much there at all . Let’s see what it says . I’ll be up there again in two weeks . Uh Oh he want’s 4.99 for the app . Seee yaaaa

What areas does this thing cover? I can’t find that info on their page nor in the Google Play Store.

I would hate to fork out $6.49 only to find out that this thing is only for NYC and San Francisco or something like that.

Edited to add: Well, never mind. I thought this thing was for finding good chow, but seems it’s actually a reference on different cuisines and not a guide.

Looks like someones non-compete clause has expired!! Anyone know how long it’s been since he sold Chow? (I’m sure I could google it but then I would be depriving one of you the courtesy of doing it for me. I’m not lazy it’s just thta delegating comes naturally)


I think it was 2007. But Leff sold Chowhound not Chow. When CNET acquired Chowhound it was merged with Chow Magazine.

ETA: Looks more like early 2006, but Leff was a Chowhound employee for a year after that. So a theoretical ten year non-compete would have expired this spring.


Exactly !! Makes a lot of sense!

From the website, the app seems to be about cuisines, not specific restaurants. You go into an Eritrean restaurant that you found yourself, and the app brings up descriptions of the dishes and suggestions.

It certainly seems worthwhile if you live in a very cosmopolitan area or you travel a lot. It’s like a chowhound’s companion to food.

I still don’t think I would fork out the money (I know it’s not much) before I had a better idea of the user experience as well as the depth and accuracy of the content.

10 years seems like a very long time for a non-compete. Hope he got lots of $$$ for that.

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That sounds very useful.

I’m only speculating. Perhaps the info is available on Leff’s blog where he tells the story of the CNET buyout.

Correct as the person who started the rumor it is purely speculation. (Although pretty interesting speculation!!)

Right, it’is geared towards the types of dishes you’ll find at restaurants. Going through several of the cuisines, I’m reminded of how many tips I picked up from Chowhound or hungry onion

I get the impression that practically speaking it applies mainly to American restaurants that represent particular countries cuisines. This is very useful – – list of dishes on things like Wikipedia often include ones you won’t see at restaurants, so they are more theoretical that practical. or in cookbooks that take a cross-section around the world, like the frugal gourmet’s book on our immigrant ancestorsAlso, the app has different sections on crowdpleasers and more adventurous dishes, which makes ordering a lot easier.

One big caveat – – Even within the United States, the dishes available in one city can be drastically different than the dishes available in another city.

For example, The Burmese section emphasizes Shan tofu in a few of the recommended dishes and also as a litmus test for restaurants quality – – yet, in the, what?, 50 Burmese restaurants in the bay area it’s only available in fewer than five, and to my knowledge none of the restaurants that have been around longer than five years.


So, do you think it would be useful for a traveler to, say, Indonesia, for looking up dishes there? Or just American places?

Did you buy the app to see within Burmese? I haven’t found any real detail and would want to see more before just plunking down even $5. I find that food boards provide much of what I need and Yelp (as much as it requires grains of salt) does usually show menu details, pics and useful comments.

Hey, all! Hope it’s okay if I pop in to follow-up on your questions. Thanks for even discussing this. It was a huge labor of love for me…most ambitious thing I ever attempted.

1. Yup…no restaurant tips!
Chowhound helped you figure out where to eat. There are a zillion resources for that now! You don’t need me! But nobody is helping you with WHAT to eat, and how to eat it! I.e. the un-missable dishes for different cuisines (for vegetarians and kids and adventurous types, too). Since no one ever explains this stuff, the food scene’s divided between geeky super experts and everyone else trying to hang on for dear life. This is my info dump of everything learned in 35 years of chowhounding, useful for newbies (it’s like I’m personally guiding you), and for experts (it fills in gaps, and serves as a cheat sheet).

2. Tons on Indonesian food! Yes!
But even if you never go near an Indonesian restaurant (here or there), I think of it this way: you can have on your phone a lifeline to pull out wherever you travel, or whatever local ethnic place you try. It unlocks the entire world, whenever you’re ready! No Nigerian near you? Well, perhaps you’d like some clever strategies and tips for Greek, Thai, Cantonese, Jamaican, Vietnamese, etc etc… And the Ghanian section (and other obscurities) make fun vicarious reading…but who knows if it’ll be helpful?

It’s 200,000 words, and took two full years for a big team to compile. $5 is a lot for an app where you shoot at milk bottles, but this is like the Hitchiker’s Guide to All The Food in the World. I’m actually kind of miffed that anyone can have this - everything I know! - for five lousy bucks! :slight_smile:

4. Samples of the writing
Go to the Google Play store page or the App Store page for screenshots, which will give a better sense. You can also see them at our (ugh) Facebook page. Also, more info (and a cuisine list) on the app’s web page. FWIW, here’s my announcement.

5. Non-compete clause
That expired years ago! But food writing/publishing has always only been just thing I do. I’ve been busy doing other stuff! This was an idea I’ve sat on for many years, and finally decided to go for it. Like Chowhound, it’s something that I, as an eater, really wanted to see. Nobody else was doing it, so I did it (and now I see why nobody did…it was an insane amount of work!).

To sum up…
Hope that wasn’t too hypey! Let me know if you have other questions.

Just want to say…if you’re a newbie and you feel intimidated by other people’s food, this will innoculate you. If you’re an expert, it will fill in gaps, offer new strategies, and tell you how to pronounce everything (can’t believe nobody ever offered that!). Also, as a whole other app-in-an-app, we’ve knocked ourselves out finding the most amazing web sites for each cuisine. Surf via in-app browser. Between these sites and our thumbnail overview, this app is one-stop shopping for the entire world of cuisine!

Did you know Indonesians make the greatest crackers on earth? Rarely on the menu, but most places will make them for you!

If you do buy the app, shoot a message via the notice inside the app. We’d love to hear from you, and credit you for any corrections/suggestions, etc. We’ll keep polishing and updating the bejesus out of this…we can push out content updates transparently (it’s like magic!!)


My favorite food writer just sent me this (I won’t say his name 'cuz he hasn’t given permission yet):

> “I’m in awe. Fantastic, highly useful, surprisingly entertaining, and highly addictive.”

After that, I can die anytime. No problem!

If/when he gives the okay, I’ll try to remember to loop back and identify him (it’ll also probably be in our promo materials all over).

Thanks for the app! Lots of valuable insights.

For those of us in the SFBA who want to use the app to broaden our horizons, see the SFBA thread from last week on ~50 countries represented in the SFBA by 5 or fewer restaurants.

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