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Interview: Ask Ben Starr About the Future of Food

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the ask-me-anything dept.

News 137

samzenpus (5) writes "Ben Starr is a chef, travel writer, reality TV star, wine and beer brewer, cheesemaker, and ultimate food geek. Ben traveled all 7 continents in his early 20s, staying with local families and learning to cook the cuisines of the world in home kitchens and local markets. FRANK, his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000 and reservations are selected by random lottery. He is a passionate local and sustainable food advocate. Ben is a flag waver for the new generation of chefs who embrace modern technology, and his Camp Potluck feeds hundreds of hungry Burning Man attendees every year. Ben has agreed to put down his chef's knife and answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."

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Long wait (2, Funny)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#46881993)

his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000

Do you get one of those buzzing alarm thingies while you are waiting?

Re:Long wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882137)

Try Franklin's barbecue in Austin... 3000 people in line is a daily affair. If you are not in line for lunch by 8:30, don't even try.

I never understand that people judge an eatery by how long its waiting list is. Here in Austin, come weekends, any place that serves breakfast will have queues going out the door, even the Waffle Houses. Does that mean a Denny's is pure awesomesauce? Not really.

Do you know where (1)

InsultsByThePound (3603437) | about 5 months ago | (#46882063)

Gordon Ramsay is?

Wait list? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 5 months ago | (#46882069)

"his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000"

Food that you have to wait that long to eat is not worth eating.

Re:Wait list? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882097)

"his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000"

Food that you have to wait that long to eat is not worth eating.

3,000 ms latency?! What is this, dial up?!

Re:Wait list? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#46882243)

3,000 ms latency?!

Try 36000000ms latency.

ITs not about eating (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46882133)

it's about being there and being a special snowflake.

Re:ITs not about eating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46883647)

>snowflake
Reminds me of a small indie breakfast joint I ate at while visiting my cousin. Nowhere near the same scale as having a 3k wait list, but there was routinely a lineup out the hallway and into the street. Food was good, but not exactly worth the wait. But it was surely a hip place to eat.

Re:Wait list? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882191)

I was gonna say, doesn't sound all the "underground" to me, unless the restaurant is literally in a basement.

Re:Wait list? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#46882333)

I was gonna say, doesn't sound all the "underground" to me, unless the restaurant is literally in a basement.

It's underground in a sense that the meal is generally held in a private home [frankunderground.com] , and there's no permanent location.

At FRANK, your suggested donation (normally $125, payable in cash or credit) will include a welcome drink and amuse-bouche, a multi-course meal, and the chefs’ selected wine (or occasionally beer) pairings. Gratuities are welcome and help us keep the interesting folks around who help coordinate, serve, and socialize. FRANK generally takes place within 10 minutes of downtown Dallas (normally accessible by public transit) at a private home in a comfortable, casual, informal space.

Re:Wait list? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 months ago | (#46883691)

I was gonna say, doesn't sound all the "underground" to me, unless the restaurant is literally in a basement.

It's underground in a sense that the meal is generally held in a private home [frankunderground.com] ,
and there's no permanent location.

At FRANK, your suggested donation (normally $125, payable in cash or credit) will include a welcome drink and amuse-bouche, a multi-course meal, and the chefs’ selected wine (or occasionally beer) pairings. Gratuities are welcome and help us keep the interesting folks around who help coordinate, serve, and socialize. FRANK generally takes place within 10 minutes of downtown Dallas (normally accessible by public transit) at a private home in a comfortable, casual, informal space.

Sounds like a great way to avoid pesky things like health codes, regulation, the tax man, negative reviews, or even having a fixed price people can see and competitors can respond to. I for one would prefer to pay a reasonable, known price for a known meal at a known location with some sort of expectation as to quality and safety.

Re:Wait list? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884295)

I understand your point, but it is being done in your home, so you can control that aspect of the health.

And having restaurant at a fixed location would make more money with the health code.

Re:Wait list? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 months ago | (#46884697)

It's done at A home. It's only YOUR home if you're hosting the thing that night. Customers / guests (who fork over a "recommended donation") are eating in a place that is NOT their home.

I don't even know what your second sentence means. You don't make money with the health code. It's something you have to adhere to. You don't get more income by being subject to inspections.

Re:Wait list? (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 5 months ago | (#46884959)

That is true, but you can generally tell by looking at someone's home if they are clean or not.

You come to my house, you'll get a safe, well cooked meal on modern applicanaces using safe food practices. If not, I have homeowners insurance to cover you, since I'm hosting guests and not running a restaurant.

If I hosted such an event, it wouldn't be about the money, but about having a nice evening with people who love great quality food.

Re:Wait list? (1)

OakDragon (885217) | about 5 months ago | (#46884329)

I saw that on "Spongebob".

Kitchen Knives (5, Interesting)

cphilo (768807) | about 5 months ago | (#46882091)

What knives do you recommend? I use Chicago Cutlery, but I have been told that Wusthof is worth the money.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

InsultsByThePound (3603437) | about 5 months ago | (#46882205)

Honestly, it really depends on what you do. But for the average westerner, I'd recommend a cleaver good long (~10") japanese chef's knife (but european shape), I like Shun but there are better brands that cost more. And a moderate size ceramic knife.

I think wusthoff/henckels is just ok but not more than that.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

sribe (304414) | about 5 months ago | (#46882319)

And a moderate size ceramic knife.

No. Too brittle. Chip at the slightest ding on a hard surface, so in a year or two the edge is really rough.

I think wusthoff/henckels is just ok but not more than that.

Yep, they're pretty good. But so are Chicago Cutlery, Gerber, Forschner, Update International, etc.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#46884245)

That's my experience with Henkels 5 star too.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

sribe (304414) | about 5 months ago | (#46884325)

That's my experience with Henkels 5 star too.

Henkels vs Wusthof: Henkels uses a harder steel, which initially keeps its edge longer, but is harder to "touch up"; Wusthof uses a softer steel which loses the fine edge much sooner, thus needs touch up (steel or ceramic disk) more frequently, but is easy to touch up. I much prefer Wusthof.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 5 months ago | (#46882345)

We are quite satisfied with Shun knives, an 8" chef's and a 4" paring knife. Other than a bread knife those two do everything we need.

They have drawn blood from everyone who has used them, they are so sharp that it is surprising at first. I sharpen them about once every 6 months, and about every year they need a light honing to clear up any edge abberations/dents.

And I got them on a great sale (about $75 for the big one, under $50 for the smaller one, about 75% off).

Re:Kitchen Knives (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#46882719)

In my experience in general knives, they do not need to be that expensive. Good quality steel is cheap, and the tools to work it in developed countries or the labour to old school smith it in the undeveloped are also both very reasonable (and shipping does not break the bank).

It does not matter the size, if you are paying over 80-90 bucks, most of that is going for the brand. In my experience if you are looking for a good blade, you are looking for a blade that is between 60-90 bucks, a little less if it is really small. And if I were buying kitchen knives I would look for a company with a proven track record in general hunting/utility knives more than anything else. Those reviewers/critics will really test a knife and you can find out how well a company is known for their quality steel workmanship. A company is just not going to lose their steel forging skills when they produce kitchen knives, and the best metal workers will produce a wide range of blades, not just high end kitchen cutlery.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 months ago | (#46884621)

And if I were buying kitchen knives I would look for a company with a proven track record in general hunting/utility knives more than anything else.

If I were buying kitchen knives, I'd look for a company with a proven track record of producing *gasp* kitchen knives.
 

A company is just not going to lose their steel forging skills when they produce kitchen knives

Nor will they gain the appropriate design skills when they add kitchen knives to their existing hunting/utility lineup.
 
Kitchen knives are generally thinner and lighter than hunting or utility knives, and also have specialized shapes that are different from hunting and utility knives. They're generally made of different alloys, as a kitchen knife is much more heavily used and if being properly maintained must withstand regular application of a steel [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 5 months ago | (#46882765)

CUTCO for the win! I love those knives. I bought some of them 20 years ago and they are as good as new. Really, really amazing knives.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46882899)

CUTCO for the win! I love those knives. I bought some of them 20 years ago and they are as good as new. Really, really amazing knives.

My parents have one of their cheese knives, and I can't recommend it highly enough. That thing is spectacular.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

werepants (1912634) | about 5 months ago | (#46884509)

As long as you are ok with a company that sells its product by exploiting poor college students. I worked for Cutco for a while, and while it is true that their knives kick ass, I think the techniques they use for sales are shady at best... somewhere between the power games of car salesmen and the relationship exploiting, pyramid-scheme shenanigans of Multi-level marketing.

Re:Kitchen Knives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46883115)

Kyocera Ceramic Knives.

Re: Kitchen Knives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46883187)

All you need is one good chef's knife that you keep sharp. The brand literally does not matter unless you're looking to impress houseguests. The only primary difference between an expensive knife and a cheap one is how long it keeps an edge but if you have an electric sharpener that's a moot point. My personal favorite is the victorinox fibrox 8 inch which is 40 at amazon and 25 on sale.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46883323)

i think mine are wusthof. there were $500
and they are falling apart in the dishwasher

Re:Kitchen Knives (2)

Onuma (947856) | about 5 months ago | (#46883459)

The dishwasher will kill quality knives. Handles dry out, the blades are banged around against other knives & dishes or the racks in which they're held...the only thing worse you could do is to utterly neglect them.

I have a $60 Kitchen Aid set which has lasted me for years. Hone the blade on a honing steel every time you use it. Hand wash and dry immediately. Once in a while, maybe 1-2 times a year, get the set sharpened by a local butcher (if you use them regularly). The steel will last a lifetime or more; the handles can even be preserved for generations.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884389)

The only knifes that go into a machine to wash are the plastic handled(Dexter Russel, I think.) commercial kitchen knives. Unless you are Micheal J. Fox*, everything else should be hand washed. And it is easy to hand wash knives.

Too Soon?

That said, the Dexter Rusell knives are inexpensive, and do a really good job. They aren't a life time knife, but more then worth the money.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 months ago | (#46883743)

Never spend more than $40 on a knife. Expensive knives are for show. A good knife will last longer than you want it to if you manage to not leave it in the sink overnight and don't try to use it as an impromptu screw driver or whatever. Just get it sharpened properly when needed.

Never buy a ceramic knife. It will chip the instant it hits something hard. The shrapnel can easily maim or blind, and will shred your poo pipes to ribbons if it lands in your food.

Re:Kitchen Knives (1)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#46884241)

I've used Wustof, Henkels and Chigago Cutlery, and have settled on Chicago Cutlery as the most practical choice *for me*. There's no doubt that the more expensive knives are lighter, better balanced and more elegant, but the Chicago Cutlery knives work every bit as well for most people, and that includes very serious home cooks.

Why spend the extra money for a fancy knife made by laser-wielding German craftsmen? Well, I suppose if you spent eight or ten hours a day cooking like my Dad and older brothers did (I'm the only one who didn't go into the restaurant business), then the tiny advantage of a slightly nicer knife might add up over the course of a long shift in the kitchen.

That said, my Dad was a professional cook from the time he was twelve years old until he was 70, and he didn't use fancy knives. He had these ancient hunks of razor sharp steel, forged in some previous age of the world, that could bone a chicken faster than you could unzip a jacket. Nobody in his kitchen would be sissy enough to complain about fatigue from using a knife.

Soylent Green (0)

ackthpt (218170) | about 5 months ago | (#46882127)

Which wine, red or white?

Re:Soylent Green (1)

HappyHead (11389) | about 5 months ago | (#46882457)

More importantly, what do you think about Soylent [wikipedia.org] , the food substitute?

Re:Soylent Green (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46882911)

More importantly, what do you think about Soylent [wikipedia.org] , the food substitute?

Um... that if I wanted to eat tasteless gruel, I'd try out for the local theater's production of Oliver Twist.

Re:Soylent Green (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 5 months ago | (#46883591)

Hey. My suggestion to the Ars guy who tried it out. Add sugar free coffee syrup.Then tasteless gruel becomes tasty gruel.

Or you could simply add some fruit/fruit juice to it.

Re:Soylent Green (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46883843)

Hey. My suggestion to the Ars guy who tried it out. Add sugar free coffee syrup.Then tasteless gruel becomes tasty gruel.

Or you could simply add some fruit/fruit juice to it.

Or I could not waste energy turning every potential meal into baby food.

Not saying that "soylent" isn't something worth pursuing (sure seems like it would be far more nutritional than the heavily processed garbage that's commonly eaten by the masses these days), but to quote a terrible character from a terrible movie, "it's just not my bag, baby."

Re:Soylent Green (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46883861)

PS If you're wondering about the quotes I put around the word "soylent..." it's because I think that it's a terrible name, and will most likely hurt any attempt at mass adoption, thanks to the mental connections people make when they hear that word.

Will we ever have to sacrifice taste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882129)

Eating food is really just putting a bunch of chemicals into our body and that's about it.

As the population continues to increase, while arable land continues to decrease, do you think we will ever end up in a world where eating healthy is as simple as popping a pill (scifi cliche, I know), while taste/flavour itself becomes a luxury item?

Re:Will we ever have to sacrifice taste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882429)

Either that, or Malthus has his way. He is often delayed, but never denied.

This is anecdotal, but good, nutritious food, sans corn syrup or processed chemicals is becoming harder and harder to find. For example, I end up buying my chicken eggs (and meat) from a local organic farm that is selective about the feed given. Buy food from anywhere else, and one can taste the difference.

Same with produce.

The problem is that food prices have more than tripled since 2008. Partially because of ethanol production, and partially because of population growth. Some areas of the world are completely dependent on the US to feed them. Even China cannot raise enough hogs to feed the population, so has purchased the majority of the pig farms in the US [1]. There is a reason that pork bellies are not on the commodities exchange these days.

Maybe more petrochemicals and perhaps "improvements" like genetically engineered chickens that have no brain or head might be coming our way. Or perhaps farms that grow bugs and send biomass as "meat" to be consumed is the future of food.

One can easily taste how the quality of food has suffered recently. Just visit a local chain restaurant and the fact that most dishes tend to be starchy as opposed to offering protein. The chicken bits in the chicken and dumplings are always growing smaller.

So, we will end up going one of two routes. The chemical "pill", which is unlikely since protein is something that can't really be compacted, or good old fashioned famines, wars over arable land, and starvation. It is sad, but I probably would say that the latter is what likely will happen soon. Only so much GM can do to deal with an exponential population rate.

[1]: Poor animal management has put diseases in the soil making it impossible to raise hogs on the mainland.

Question Ben (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882159)

Do you hate Beta as much as any other sane human being? Do you plan on dropping Slashdot when they force Beta down your throat?
 
I know it's two questions but they're important.

After seeing the Republicans (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882173)

spend years harassing Jeff Potter that wrote “Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food,” there’s no way I’d try to merge science with cooking. The Republicans hate science and love food so they take any attempt to use science to improve food as an attack on themselves and their way of life. Some of them even take it as an attack on their religion. I’d like to ask Starr how he plans on protecting himself from these attacks. They are vicious and violent. After all, they are the people that own guns. The type of person that would own a gun is dangerous to the public. No fucking way would I challenge the Republicans like this poor guy. He is in for a world for hurt.

Re:After seeing the Republicans (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#46882505)

I know I am feeding the troll, but I need a break from work.
The Republicans are not Anti-Science, they are food "Good News" Science, say GMO Foods, and new technologies, stuff they can say look how much money science is making us.
What they don't like is Bad news science, where it means a company will need to change their production and loose money. As well if a particular science seems to clash with a religion of a voter base.

That said, If say the Evangelicals started to vote Democrat, you will see a new set of democrats fighting against putting evolution in schools.

Politicians are not for and against science. They are just going to have a position that gets them their most votes.

Re:After seeing the Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882803)

a company will need to change their production and loose money.

Why would a company want money that isn't tight? I've heard you Republicans use that term before, but I still don't know what it means. What were you trying to say?

Re:After seeing the Republicans (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 5 months ago | (#46883291)

... and what's this here evolution thing y'all are talkin' bout?

Re:After seeing the Republicans (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884471)

and you would see a lot of former democrat start voting republican.
Hardly the first time the parties changed.

"Politicians are not for and against science. They are just going to have a position that gets them their most votes."
Republican have been lying about science in order to get money from industry while keeping there masses from braying too much.

Is technology making restaurants obsolete? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882187)

With the advent of tablets, global cooking communities and digitally-controlled tools (induction stoves, ovens, sous vide boilers, infrared thermometers, etc.) the world is rapidly becoming a place where anyone, anywhere has access to the sum total of all food knowledge and, absent the experience of cooking, programmable devices that do the cooking for them. Do you see this as a threat to the traditional restaurant concept?

Re:Is technology making restaurants obsolete? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882215)

"programmable devices that do the cooking for them."

What hyperbole. Is a stove with a temperature knob a programmable device that does the cooking for you? Jesus Christ.

Re:Is technology making restaurants obsolete? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882227)

Damn, son, get a sense of perspective. I live in a prosperous first-world country and I'd be surprised if more than 10% of the population has the digitally-controlled appliances you list in their kitchens, let alone the masses of impoverished people around the world.

Re:Is technology making restaurants obsolete? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46882933)

Not to mention, all the technology in the world is means precisely dick if you don't know how to use it right.

Re:Is technology making restaurants obsolete? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#46882587)

Can't tell if troll or serious.

Re:Is technology making restaurants obsolete? (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 5 months ago | (#46884683)

Micheline gave my 3d food printer 1 star!

Food Production (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882233)

From the standpoint of sustainable living, I've been distancing myself more and more from the supermarkets and started growing a lot of my own vegetables at home. Fortunately I have a room to dedicate to my hydro farm that allows me to eat fresh all year around. I am wondering if you are seeing more people starting to do this, or am I just alone and crazy when it comes to this? I think as food prices go up and food gets stuffed with more crap many people will start to grow their own, but on the other hand most Americans are too fat and lazy to dedicate time and energy to nutrition, I see many houses with an abundance of land with only decorative plants. It's hard to believe that people are not growing their own food. What do you think?

I'll bite (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 5 months ago | (#46882235)

I live in San Francisco, and live near a number of Asian grocery stores. We get all sorts of interesting fruits and vegetables year round that are hard to find anywhere else, and these stores often import them from Asia, often from China, the Phillippines, Thailand, etc....

Do you have any information on the status of the US relaxing additional import restrictions on fruits and veggies from SE Asia and other parts of the world? For example, now that Burma is supposedly a bit more democratic, can we expect to see that country exporting more and more produce to the US?

molecular gastronomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882239)

Please tell me that douch-bag phrase is on the way out

Re:molecular gastronomy (1)

serbanp (139486) | about 5 months ago | (#46884601)

yeah, that phrase sounds awfully pretentious, but This' book has some interesting bits about why some things work in the kitchen the way they do. Understanding why you're doing something when cooking makes you a better and more consistent cook.

Antarctica Cuisine? (3, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | about 5 months ago | (#46882337)

It says you went to all 7 continents "staying with local families and learning to cook the cuisines of the world"

Wouldn't Antarctica just be canned food. As the locals are only there temporary. Or is there a really good Penguin Soup?

Re:Antarctica Cuisine? (3, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | about 5 months ago | (#46883141)

Wouldn't Antarctica just be canned food. As the locals are only there temporary

It depends a bit on where on the continent you are, and during what time of year. All the (sizable) bases have cooking facilities, mess halls, and full-time cooking staff. There are fridges and freezers, so the cooking can be a lot more sophisticated than opening a can and heating over a flame. During the summer, fresh produce comes in with just about every flight - even to the South Pole station. Some places grow their own greens year-round. Some more details can be found in Werner Herzog's documentary Encounters at the End of the World [imdb.com] .

That said, the facilities are run by subcontractors, not restaurateurs. So it's probably a lot like base food you would find anywhere. Hunting the local wildlife (such as it is) is banned, and there isn't local vegetation to speak of.

Re:Antarctica Cuisine? (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884487)

But it isn't local food. Maybe shaved ice.

Food? (3, Interesting)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 5 months ago | (#46882343)

[snark]We already know the future of food; it's going to be eaten :P [/snark]

What's your take on the whole "vertical farming" and "hydroponics" thing?

Re:Food? (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 5 months ago | (#46882819)

moron.

Re:Food? (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 5 months ago | (#46882999)

moron.

I rather like carrots, as it happens. "Moron" is the Welsh word for "carrot" after all.

The Presentation Layer (2)

Dissenter (16782) | about 5 months ago | (#46882349)

As a chef that embraces modern technology, do you think that the 3D printed food technology is something you will have in your kitchen some day or is it just a fad?

Re:The Presentation Layer (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 5 months ago | (#46884719)

All the best foods are extruded. Cheesy poofs, hotdogs, slimjims etc.

All they need is an extruder to print with these three flavors and voila 4 Micheline stars it is.

I only have one question. (2)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 5 months ago | (#46882353)

World Hunger is trending towards going away, and a catalyst for eliminating it is for individuals to work hard and donate to the poor.

What are some strategies you have for elimination of World Hunger?

Re:I only have one question. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884501)

Kill the warlords and distribute the food.

Local gardens and farms? (2)

mlts (1038732) | about 5 months ago | (#46882463)

What do you think of replacing the stereotypical front yard with some type of garden and some home raising of animals (chickens come to mind)? I'm nowhere near a farmer, but having the ability to have food available a few feet away seems like a wise idea, especially with food prices skyrocketing.

Re:Local gardens and farms? (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 5 months ago | (#46882959)

What do you think of replacing the stereotypical front yard with some type of garden and some home raising of animals (chickens come to mind)?

I seem to recall reading that a potential drawback of this would be the difficulty in containing the spread disease. Thousands of 'farms' just a few 10s of feet from the next one over, each managed by a total amateur during evenings and weekends who already has a real day job.

Writing this I think the article I specifically read was in reference to running bee hives, but it seems that the issues would apply here as well.

What do you do if your neighbors chickens start getting sick...and they aren't swift enough to address the problem... hell even if they are swift its probably too late.

I'm nowhere near a farmer,

Exactly. To turn this into an IT analogy it would be like proposing each home run their own mail servers. In theory this would be good for a lot of reasons... but most people aren't server admins; and dealing with spam, viruses, server updates, relay issues, security, etc, etc is just setting things up to fail. A chicken coop in every front yard is a biological (biohazard) equivalent.

Re:Local gardens and farms? (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#46883243)

As an "urban farmer" myself, I can't recommend the practice highly enough. Not only will you save significant amounts of money on not having to buy common produce, eggs, etc., You will know that it's fresh, and not tainted with whatever blood disease the poor illegals who sliced/bagged it happened to have.

Re:Local gardens and farms? (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 5 months ago | (#46883543)

For plants, I'd rather have a garden than a front/back lawn, because it means less to mow, and it puts a (rather limited) resource to use. Plus, I have a grey water reclamation system [1], so having the water go into food production makes more sense than just having it making an end product of grass clippings that go into the city landfill.

For animals, basic sense comes to mind. Chickens go to the avian vet yearly or when sick. If it is respiratory, they get yanked away ASAP. I'm not a farmer, but there are always common sense practices (such as not having a rooster in an urban area) that should be intuitive to anyone.

[1]: Make sure to use a decent, graywater friendly laundry soap.

Re:Local gardens and farms? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884565)

you're gray water is going into you plants?

I don't care f you were offering me directions out of hell, there is no way I would take your advice.

Re:Local gardens and farms? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884551)

Don't.
Chickens a make noise, all the time. They poop FAR more then you think, they're are stupid and do stupid things. They get diseases, there are predators, they die, they can fly over fences.

Unless you have and acre, they will cost you more then you save.

Where are food prices skyrocketing?

Re:Local gardens and farms? (2)

serbanp (139486) | about 5 months ago | (#46884751)

Chickens a make noise, all the time. They poop FAR more then you think, they're are stupid and do stupid things. They get diseases, there are predators, they die, they can fly over fences

.
I usually appreciate your comments but you're dead wrong about this subject.

In my block of SFH there are 4 people keeping chicken (myself included) and there is hardly any noise related to the chicken. The only noise they make is after they've laid an egg. No rooster allowed though.

If you keep the run dry (roof against rain and covered with absorbent things, such as straw), there is no smell at all from their poop, which anyway is not an issue.

Chicken are not stupid, especially if they live in decent conditions (not crowded, clean environment, fresh water, nutritious food, gentle handling etc). Some breeds are quite smart for a bird (Ameraucana comes to mind). Almost all will protect themselves from day predators (hawks etc), especially in a backyard context. At night, you keep the coop closed, so there's no risk.

If they're well fed, chicken will not be able to fly over a 8' fence once they're reaching adulthood (but maybe the bantam do).

As for diseases, they almost never get sick if properly cared for. Good food, enough room and clean coop/run go a long way in keeping the (vet.) doctor away.

Sustainable beef? (2)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 5 months ago | (#46882541)

How can mass farming of cattle be made sustainable?

Local hydroponics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882557)

What do you think of local greenhouses and hydroponic bays making food fresh for peoples in cities and higher latitudes?

How do I (slowly) assemble my own awesome kitchen (2)

krotscheck (132706) | about 5 months ago | (#46882567)

What is the most efficient, and ordered, way to assemble a world-class kitchen?

Many of us don't have the budget (especially when coming out of college) to buy all the crazy-awesome tools that make for a world class kitchen in one go, so we have to slowly purchase items as our budget allows and/or old cheaper items get used up. Do you have a recommended order, from a batchelor/ette's first egg pan to elaborate computerized sous-vide, in which someone can build their own world-class kitchen over several years?

Re:How do I (slowly) assemble my own awesome kitch (1)

serbanp (139486) | about 5 months ago | (#46884559)

In the order of importance (for a residential setting):
1) good range or rangetop. The burners better be open style and capable of at least 15kBTU (22k and up to do wokking right)
2) good rangehood. At least 600-700CFM, baffle filters.
3) good oven, either in a range or stand-alone. Size is important, but evenness of baking is much more so. Steam capability optional.
4) good set of utensils. Many competing schools of thought regarding pans (I personally prefer cast iron in almost any situation), just avoid the non-stick coated thin aluminum junk. Good knives and even better knife sharpener.

Everything else is secondary, maybe the fridge/freezer are sitting on a distant #5.

Oh, and sous-vide is, i.m.o., overrated.

Soylent (food substitute)? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882569)

How do you feel about products like Soylent [soylent.me] and the community building around such products? Do you think this is something that could catch on?

Other interesting article: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2013/08/20/soylent/ [fourhourworkweek.com]

Obesity Crisis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882647)

I've got a question regarding food and the world's obesity epidemic.

While many people will agree that a shift to more sedentary lifestyles is a major component of the world's obesity epidemic, there is also the food side of the problem as well: many processed foods contain tons of high-fructose corn syrup and other empty calories, and fewer people are buying the raw ingredients for food and cooking it.

So here is my question: What changes can we expect to see to supermarkets and restaurants in the coming years to try and stave off the obesity problem, and what can someone who does not know how to cook do now (in terms of what books to read, etc) in order to secure themselves better food?

Random lottery vs Supply and Demand? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#46882673)

Instead of using a random lottery to select your customers, wouldn't it make more sense to simply raise your prices until demand falls to meet supply? Or, alternatively, add some space for more tables, so supply rises to meet demand?

Re:Random lottery vs Supply and Demand? (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 5 months ago | (#46883223)

, wouldn't it make more sense to simply raise your prices until demand falls to meet supply?

Until he only ever cooks for rich people? Maybe that's not what he wants to do.

Or, alternatively, add some space for more tables, so supply rises to meet demand

http://frankunderground.com/ [frankunderground.com]

"At FRANK, youâ(TM)ll be seated around our massive communal table of century-old reclaimed wood, surrounded by new friends who share your love for fresh, local food and the fellowship and storytelling that naturally spring from the dinner party setting. "

" FRANK generally takes place within 10 minutes of downtown Dallas (normally accessible by public transit) at a private home in a comfortable, casual, informal space."

Adding more tables would
a) defeat the dinner party gimmick.
b) probably not fit in the average private home

Re:Random lottery vs Supply and Demand? (1)

Scottingham (2036128) | about 5 months ago | (#46883271)

Maybe he doesn't want to serve only millionaires?

Re:Random lottery vs Supply and Demand? (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884599)

NO, that is a common misunderstanding of economics. one free market crazies often make.

Lets say you can seat 200, and 300 show up every night. So you say, lets go from 49 dollars a plate, to 50. You could loose 200 or more customers, over a dollar.
Add to that he uses it to accelerate a hip persona, it make sense.

This is more of a service where he comes to the home, and not an actual restaurant per se. I just used a restaurant as an example.

scalability (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46882721)

Mr. Starr, thanks for taking questions.

My question: When will we see a scalable local/organic logistics solution for delivering food to a large metro area? Ex: The size of Denver...we see stories of "innovative tech solutions" all the time here on /., but usually they are limited to one "green" building, one research team's "urban farm" concept, one restaurant chef applying these in one restaurant in Brooklyn... I'm asking when will we see one of those solutions applied at scale? I ask because in my mind that is the threshold or 'tipping point' in the industrial food situation.

Re:scalability (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 months ago | (#46884763)

When will we see a scalable local/organic logistics solution for delivering food to a large metro area?

Never. When you're supplying a large metro scale area, you're supplying in industrial quantities. You're simply changing the nature of the industry, not replacing it.

Setting aside of course that proving fresh vegetables in winter to many cities in the US requires energy - whether for transporting it from a distant and more clement clime, or for providing heating and possibly lighting for local growth. So far, transport is far more efficient because the energy requirements are lower.

If you like sustainability and technology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46882725)

...then I take it you support using GMO food to continue feeding the world's hungry?

Industrial Livestock and the High Meat Diet (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 5 months ago | (#46882769)

Do you agree with the following statement, and would you comment?

Industrial livestock production and the high meat consumption diet of the industrialized world are unsustainable and are causing great damage to the Earths ecosystems,
and that the only real solution being that the amount of meat being consumed must drop considerably.

Space Food (1)

turgid (580780) | about 5 months ago | (#46882777)

What will space food be like?

I'm thinking of the first orbital hotels in space-stations in Earth orbit for very rich space tourists. Presumably there will be a need for exciting, high-quality novel cuisine in this environment? And cooking facilities?

Then will come the tourist trips to the Moon and eventually Mars.

What ideas do you have?

Innovations in Brewing (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | about 5 months ago | (#46882861)

What are some of the most interesting and promising recent innovations available to the home brewer?

So, Nathan Myhrvold wrote a gigantic cookbook (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#46883077)

Does that make him:

A) Yet another very rich nerd trying desperately to be remembered for something - ANYTHING - else other than being yet another very rich nerd.

B) An extremely evil nerd trying desperately to be remembered for something - ANYTHING - else other than being an extremely evil nerd.

C) All of the above.

All 7? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46883487)

So... what does Antarctic cuisine look like?

Butchers (1)

Onuma (947856) | about 5 months ago | (#46883527)

Current society focuses more and more on technology to make cooking easier, quicker, make prepared foods more readily accessible, etc. One area we have not really changed is butchering, except to say that there are far fewer butchers today than a generation ago. There could be no quality cuts of meat without them.

Do you think butchers are a dying breed, or will we see a resurgence within that profession?

Re:Butchers (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#46884613)

I can get a custom cut at almost every grocery store within 15 miles of my home.

Did you ask anyone at your meat dept.?

Re:Butchers (1)

Onuma (947856) | about 5 months ago | (#46884785)

I don't particularly have a problem, but I also know where to go. I've just noticed the trend of butchers' shops becoming more centralized. It's more difficult to find a small business or butcher who isn't located in a large grocery store than it was in the 80s or 90s. Granted, I can still go to Costco and get things cut any which way. Availability is there, just not as readily as it once was. Could merely be my perception.

Some random guy (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 months ago | (#46884643)

Why should I care about what some random guy/pseudo celebrity has to say about the future of food?

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