February 10, 2015 Last Updated 10:59 am

Chefs Feed: from strictly B2B to a unique consumer restaurant app

From serving the public relations needs of chefs and restaurants, to providing consumers with credible recommendations, the Chefs Feed model has interesting implications for B2B media

The relaunch issue of App Publisher features an interview with former Zinio CEO, now chief exec at Chefs Feed, Rich Maggiotto. The interview took place a few days after the company announced that it had entered into a video content agreement with Time Inc.’s FOOD & WINE magazine.

“Chefs Feed has done a stellar job of creating first-person videos that make you feel like an insider with access to a wide range of star chefs,” said Christina Grdovic, SVP/publisher of FOOD & WINE in November. “Our mutual obsession for discovering and celebrating great culinary talent makes Chefs Feed a great match for us.”

What interested me, beyond Maggiotto’s opinion of the magazine business (much of which was in our off-the-record session), was the different angle Chefs Feed was taking, and how it applied to B2B media.

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A little background: Chefs Feed started by two PR pros, brothers Jarad and Steve Rivera. They were serving restauranteurs and at the same time were gathering restaurant recommendations for their personal use. Before they knew it, they realized that they had collected a large number of recommendations, from very credible sources, the chefs themselves. In a way, it would be like the CEO of a home remodel company recommending other contractors – you’d have to listen to their opinion.

What came out of this was the Chefs Feed iPhone app, which offers users recommendations from top chefs for more than two dozen cities.

“I started to think a lot about the feature publishing model,” Maggiotto told App Publisher. “I started realizing, the sort of three legged stool that Isaacson talked about – subscription revenue, newsstand revenue, and advertising – being a tough model going forward.”

“I started living and breathing this new change while I was at Zinio, so when I got on the board of Chefs Feed I realized they had this golden asset where they had convinced thousands of chefs in North America to begin contributing content for free to their platform – mostly starting off with dishes they recommend and admire outside their own kitchen,” Maggiotto said.

“Then increasingly, it was them talking about their own brands and their own venues and things going on in their own restaurants, and I realizing the you have this golden asset that was very unique and almost the anti-Yelp in terms of a media platform. It wasn’t user-generated gravel, but it was expert reviews from the chefs themselves.”

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But this post is not just about promoting our relaunch issue of App Publisher (believe it or not). It is about B2B publishing, and industry really suffering right now.

There are many reasons B2B is in bad shape: the influence of private equity on the industry, the fact its its representatives have been more interested in promoting content marketing than the interests of those actually in the publishing business, and B2B’s slow move to digital.

To compensate, many B2B publishing companies today have deemphasized their publishing products and moved towards becoming events or data companies, or both. But is there still a content model that will work for B2B?

Chefs Feed touches on a number areas that I think are good models.

To those who download their app, Chefs Feed looks like a consumer media company, delivering strong content from credible sources. But that part of the business only derived from its initial mission, which was to serve the needs of chefs and their restaurants. This model, I quickly thought, would work perfectly for many B2Bs who also are gathering credible content from their readership and advertising customers.

An example might be a B2B landscape magazine that decides to move into the consumer space because they have excellent content from landscape contractors, expert in the area of gardening and commercial landscape. No doubt these contractors have examples of excellent work done by others (as well as themselves) that would be of interest not only to other contractors, but those consumers interested in gardening.

Another example might be with apps, right? Surely all the app content we’ve come up with over the years might have some appeal to consumers? Maybe, but there are definitely limits to how far one might take this. Food, wine, gardening, these are popular pastimes. A B2B publisher would have to determine for themselves if there is a consumer angle that might work for them.

I hope you get a chance to read the full interview with Rich Maggiotto – it is currently available for you to access on the new App Publisher website.

You can also read the whole interview and story inside the January/February issue, available now in the Apple Newsstand and in the Google Play store. Inside the relaunch issue you will also find an interesting interview with Claudia Zimmer, President and co-founder of the digital publishing platform Aquafadas, on native versus PDF digital editions.

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