Food Media

The Subtle but Powerful Influence of Chowhound


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Food Media

The Subtle but Powerful Influence of Chowhound

Steve | | Dec 5, 2010 04:49 AM

Many times I have heard about Chowhound being referenced in the media or ideas being straight-out lifted from Chowhound without attribution. These are obvious signs of Chowhound's influence.

Let me give you an example of something more subtle, but even more powerful.

Last week in the Washington Post, restaurant critic Tom Sietsema uncovered a secret Lao menu at a non-descript Thai restaurant run by a Lao woman who figured nobody wanted to eat her cuisine. You could waltz into this restaurant on almost any given night and see very few or no customers.

Now the restaurant has a steady stream of new customers asking for the Lao menu. Every new face is asking about it. Who knew so many people might be interested in eating Lao food that was being kept under wraps?

The competition for food info is intense now. Bloggers and other websites are jumping on new restaurant openings and tidbits of info as if they were Wikileaks. But the pressure to scrounge for a secret menu at a restaurant that has been open for four years comes from Chowhound. No other media outlet has this kind of focus and influence. And the food critics know they have to work hard to get the scoop.

This is an example in which the Post got to it before any Chowhound did, so kudos to Tom Sietsema for the investigative work and original scholarship. But this would not have happened at all in the days before Chowhound.

The landscape is changing. To paraphrase from "Inherit the Wind:" All motion is relative. You can move away.... by simply standing still.

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