Are Chowhounds Influential?
Does anyone here think that the food professionals monitor these types of boards and actually change anything that they do as a result?
Does Christopher Kimball worry about what we think? Or does he just chuckle all the way (while driving his Maserati) to the bank?
I have been contacted by the media on several occasions and have made personal recs that have been followed and found their way into the press, both national and local.
I imagine I am not alone on this score.
So how do they contact me? First of all, they have to read Chowhound, and then they look at my profile.
- Chowhounder posting(s) was posted on windows of restaurants as advertisement tools.
- Chowhounder comments caused restaurant(s) to change their menu approaches.
- Chowhounder was asked by food & wine editors of media and publications for ideas, photos and reviews...etc
- Chowhounder was invited as judges in food competitions
....... to name a few!! That's how influential some of us can be!!
I've heard that some of them browse now and then. Their passion is food and chowhounds have a lot of great ideas, opinions, etc.
Lots of great information on these boards I can't imagine that some would come to take a look every once in a while.
There used to be a lot more food professionals that were contributing 'hounds. A few of them have told me that posting became too frustrating because they were frequently deleted. Nonetheless, I assure you, they still check in to see what us food geeks think and talk about.
We ARE influential ... otherwise we would constantly be overlooked rather than referenced. Gordon Ramsay states the following in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares ... "Tonight, you have a second chance... It's not only real tonight, but I have filled this restaurant with serious bloggers," said Ramsay. "Coming to dine tonight: Yelp, Tasting Table, Chow, UrbanSpoon, Serious Eats LA, and Blackboard Eats."
My initial response to "Are Chowhounds Influential" was going to be;
"I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal. I'm very important I have many leather bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany."
Speaking as a local restaurateur I can tell you first hand I discovered Chow from a customer. After dining in my establishment a table requested to speak to me-the owner. As any owner would do I went over to the table which upon my initial impression was a group of punk-ish kids. I prepared myself for some sarcastic comments in an attempt to complain their way into free desert or after dinner drink(s). (Sorry if you read this JJ) lol
Upon engaging them in conversation I quickly realized my initial impression was way off the mark as the primary speaker had great depth of knowledge, especially regarding my restaurant. Caught somewhat off guard by this I asked; If you don’t mind me asking, where are you getting your information from? To which he responded “Chowhound”.
Later that night I created my first username and started monitoring the boards frequently from that point on. After selling that establishment and currently having no management interests in any establishments, I decided to stop being a voyeur and turned into a contributor. (new handle and all)
So I can say yes at least on the local level restaurant professionals do take Chow and it’s members seriously.
I think that the key word in your question is "professionals". When they really want to know how good the food, service, atmosphere, etc. really is, they go to chowhound. I think they take things written here seriously. OTOH, I think they find a site like Yelp more important and probably look at it daily. Mind you, it's not because it's better or even mildly respected by professionals. It's simply that there are probably 100 times more users on Yelp than on Chowhound so 1 positive or negative review there is seen by that many more people. My bet is that the professionals hate yelp as much as they respect chowhound. IMO, a restaurant would take great pride in positive feedback on Chowhound but, for their bottom line, would probably prefer a few 5 star reviews from people who know nothing on Yelp.
sandylc, I think the influence is strong enough because the person to person intel is live 24/7 and constantly moving.
What's typed in a comment box on CH at 1:00 can be seen on a Tweet feed at 1:02..there's influence in that connection speed.
I think we do to some extent. For example, some of us over on "cookware" have bitched for a very long time about the design of the All Clad handle. Now, it may be coincidence, but All Clad re-designed (somewhat) the handle.
Not enough to make me happy, but then again I switched to French cookware.
I think manufacturers would be nuts to not pay some attention to the comments. Even if every so often they did a search for their brand to see what's being said.
We started a huge movement for de Buyer and other carbon steel cookware, and now it's being offered by WmSonoma and other outlets. Lodge has come out with their own version, with basically the same design.
So, I think we have a wee little bit of influence - for the good, I'd say!
And I bitched enough and often in every pepper grinder thread about how I love my Vic Firth mill, but it came with no instructions, there were none on the web site to let you know it would jam and not work properly if you didn't use your thumb to hold up the grinding mechanism on the bottom to refill and until you tightened the nut back on. Now, not long before selling out to another maker, they have an online video showing how to do it.
I at least *hope* that the comments here helped.