Mood Food
Custom-ordered cuisine takes customers’ feelings into account
Life / 26 Jul 2011

When it comes to keeping clientele happy, customization is key. It’s no surprise, then, that the bespoke trend has made an impact on obvious categories such as fashion and interior design. Now, restaurateurs and caterers are venturing into personalization, offering up food and drinks to order based on diners’ thoughts, feelings, and even memories.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: The announced Fall 2011 opening of this Brooklyn cocktail spot elicited some raised eyebrows given its suggestive acronym (in Grub Street New York’s words, “WTF?”) and less-than-humble promise to bring forth “the future of cocktails.” But owner Max Messier is in fact pioneering a new customization concept. Customers will use iPads to specify their favorite liquors and their current emotional state, prompting a bartender to create drinks customized to their preferences and mood. Using a WTF-branded app, patrons can choose to order their appointed beverages or scroll a menu for more impersonal options. And, in an added nod to au courant tech, transactions will be conducted via iPad.

Verily Baked Goods: This apartment-based bakery in NYC relies on the modern concept of customization but adds a human touch that acknowledges Gen Y’s affinity for all things nostalgic. After receiving an order request, Verily founder/baker Anna Beth Weber contacts the customer to learn of fondly remembered childhood snacks and current favorite ingredients and flavors. Drawing on this reading, Weber divines the perfect sweet treat for the client and occasion. Though she’ll cook up classics on demand, she specializes in quirky interpretations of traditional desserts, from white chocolate wasabi cupcakes to maple-bacon chocolate chip cookies. Sentimental sugar fiends can follow Weber on Pinterest for a comprehensive look at her creative confections.

Covell: There is no wine list at this LA hot spot. Instead, an overqualified staff of sommeliers wanders the space, asking customers leading questions to determine the bottle they’ll like best. To ensure that everyone lands something they love, patrons are encouraged to sample as many wines as they’d like before choosing the perfect fit. Wine Director (and sometimes vintner) Matthew Kaner admits that when it comes to choosing the right glass, grape variety is foundational, proving that Covell’s on-target guidance is equal parts art and science. Bottles are stocked in small quantities, giving glasses a fleeting feel that contributes to the bar’s serendipitous atmosphere.


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