So… I joined Twitter. I know, right? I did it in the name of research for this story, and have liked it so much I think I’ll stay for good. (That may or may not be a hint for you to start following me, cause that makes me feel important and fuzzy and stuff.) So I come at this with an outsider-turned-quasi-insider perspective.
It seems recently all the DC food blogs I follow have gotten on Twitter, and are busy building a little community for themselves (ourselves?) complete with a list of the who-is-who. But us internet-types are always early arrivals, so the other half of my story is who else in the DC food scene, namely DC restaurants and more namely, which DC Chefs, are on Twitter. And then I’ll muse a bit about what twitter can do, and what others hope it can do, for the DC food scene and the betterment of our local food offerings. Ready? Let’s do it.
So let’s start out with the DC Twitter scene. And what would the ‘who’s who of the DC food scene’ be without a list? Well lucky for us, user Arasmus has been pulling together a list of foodies on Twitter, which is a living Google Doc constantly updated with names of foodie Tweeters in the DC area. His stated goal is to “strengthen DC’s food community by encouraging people to use Twitter to comment about their food experiences and finds in and around the District. This “gastronomic nervous system” throughout the city will hopefully create a ripe environment for more and more great food offerings.” I emailed him a few questions on why he’s been pulling together the list, and he, surprise!, replied to me in less than 140 characters, of course: “@isitdinneryet Re why I put together list of DC Foodies: extremely demanding consumers required for center of excellence http://bit.ly/AE4yX” Well, okay. And then he expanded. “@isitdinneryet Re where I see it going: ideally? – ‘a gastronomic nervous system that drives the most competitive food city in America.'” I’m down for that.
The list is full of food bloggers that break news, such as Young & Hungry‘s Tim Carman, and Counter Intelligence‘s Melissa McCart, but also equally lovable commenters/kitchen aficionados like The Bitten Word, and The Arugula Files. But that list? Is not totally complete. Foodie tweeters I love, like Claudia from Brunch and the City, for instance, haven’t yet been noted. I’m thinking that while the list is still a work in progress, that the list also isn’t where the story ends. In fact, maybe the list is just the preface.
I caught up with Metrocurean‘s Amanda McClements, (who is also on the list) (oh the prestige!) to ask what she likes about Twitter. “I follow a lot of news sources on Twitter, so I actually get more timely information on Twitter than most web sites. I use it to pass on tidbits of food news that might not warrant a whole blog post or sometimes to direct people to a Metrocurean post. I try to keep it food related. It’s become a really great resource for restaurant advice, juicy restaurant news and finding out where to track down ingredients.” Which is what I’ve found in my few days in the Twitter world. I love that people break news, discuss menus, and talk about trends. It’s like a direct line into the “now” of the foodie world. I had found that I was checking people’s feeds with regularity and finding good tidbits, and even wishing I could comment on them, so now I’ve been pushed over the edge.
I also like to find restaurants on there, but those are slightly harder to come by. Posto, for instance, tweets their daily specials. Dairy Godmother (the creamery in Del Ray) discusses opening times, new flavors and other related news. Chop’t shows up from time to time, and even WLDC’s unofficial watering hole Science Club tweets. But you know who has really caught up? The food carts. Eco-friendly On The Fly tweets all kind of things, but also where the Fly Karts are. The Fojol brothers tweet their location so you can get yours. sweetgreen‘s new Sweetflow Mobile twitters regularly even though they’re not out on the streets yet (I always seem to picture a truck twittering, not the people behind the truck, but whatever). I asked the owners of sweetgreen what they like about twitter. “Twitter is a real time medium to connect with our customers and have a little fun with it,” says Jonathan Neman, co-owner of sweetgreen.
But you know who hasn’t gotten with the program? DC area chefs. We’ve got a severely empty twitter lineup of DC chefs, Top Chef Carla Hall and Westend Bistro’s Joe Palma seem to be the lone two on my radar. (Though, you should tell me in the comments if I’m missing someone.) And that’s weird, there are plenty of personalities that are built for Twitter, I bet Michael Landrum’s tweets would be fun to follow and the dynamic personality of Jose Andres would be great on Twitter! Rumors have it Dennis Marron of Jackson 20 and The Grille at Morrison House might be onloading soon, but if he’s the only one, we’re still sorely lacking. What’s up DC chefs? You could round out the circle of love, plus get direct access to your fans, what is not to love?
So, what exactly does twitter do for us? Well, if you buy into Arasmus’ theory, it’ll make DC a better place to eat, proving that people are paying attention, expecting high quality food, and reviewing it accordingly. But what does Twitter do that a good dose of food bloggers and Yelp-ing doesn’t? You can get all those things on the internet, longer than 140 characters at a time. Maybe it’s about the live interaction and direct access, I recently saw Mark Bittman share what he ate for lunch with a follower on Twitter. So maybe that is the key, interaction that isn’t in the comments of a blog (Though, please, comment! I love commenters.) but in a quick-to-update forum with access to those you wouldn’t get elsewhere. But whatever it is about Twitter, and it might be different for each of us, I’ll say it’s definitley making it’s mark on the DC food scene, slowly but surely.