Where Food Meets Tech: iPhone Apps, Bacon Salt, The Coffee Nazi, and Other Tasty Seattle Connections

12/19/08Follow @gthuang

In a great food town like Seattle, it’s no surprise there are so many food-related startups. But lately we’ve been hearing even more about tech companies and food than expected—big successes, wacky products, major projects—so we figured it was time to round up (and update) our recent coverage of said companies. Plus, what better time than the holidays to think about the interplay between technology and food? OK, on to the entries, I’m getting hungry…

—Urbanspoon launched its restaurant review sites in every U.S. city over Thanksgiving (it had previously been in 71 cities). The company’s iPhone app has gotten around 2.2 million downloads and 70 million “shakes” so far. Co-founder Ethan Lowry says he’s going to Thailand over the holidays, and may sample “curry for Christmas.”

—BigOven keeps climbing the charts of the Seattle 2.0 startup index, recently cracking the top 10 for November. Steve Murch created the social site for sharing recipes and planning meals. It now has more than 2 million unique users a month, and passed one million downloads of its iPhone app this month.

—Foodista launched its social cooking site this week. Former Amazon vets Barnaby Dorfman and Sheri Wetherell are running the wiki-style encyclopedia, which includes information on recipes, techniques, and tools of the trade.

—Intellectual Ventures is working on a major book project about the modern science and technology of cooking. The authors are IV co-founder Nathan Myhrvold and Christopher Young, from the renowned Fat Duck restaurant in England. (In the past, Myhrvold has been a guest chef at Rover’s in Madison Valley, and once won the world barbecue championship.) The book is slated to be published in about a year. It will include cutting-edge kitchen techniques as well as some recipes. I recently had lunch with Patrick Ennis, IV’s global head of technology, and we both had turkey sandwiches.

—Bacon Salt founders Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow say they are out of Lite Baconnaise until January 2, and that today is the last day to get orders in to ensure delivery by Christmas. Don’t ask. Just try it, trust me.

—OK, this one is not quite food, but I would argue that coffee counts. Here at Xconomy, we’ve made some additions to our Greater Seattle Coffee Cluster, an interactive map of cafe hotspots where the area’s innovation leaders like to gather and work. Randy Schatzman, president and CEO of Alder BioPharmaceuticals, wrote in this week to say that Victor’s Coffee in Redmond “should have been on Seinfeld,” because it has The Coffee Nazi. “It’s the kind of place you want to stay at but they don’t let you,” says Schatzman.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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