Forget Google, TripAdvisor or Yelp, there’s another way to locate the hottest restaurant in town, no matter where you’re visiting according to James Beard winner Andrew Zimmern.
Going to online recommendation sites might point you in the direction of the most popular restaurants. But popular doesn’t necessarily mean good. Instead Zimmern reaches out to local foodies and experts, chefs and industry figures to get the lowdown on the best openings or hidden gems in any given city.
“I have my lists that I keep. I'm constantly talking to people who have been places, and I’m networking with other chefs, paying attention to food people that I love and maybe the chefs they mentor, and I see who is opening what. Staying on top of what's new is, I think, an important thing in my business,” says Zimmern.
All well and good if you’re an award-winning chef, but how can you tap into this resource if you’re just a regular Joe?
“When I travel somewhere, I will make a list of the food writers, food editors at local magazines and newspapers, and the chefs in that city. I will find them on social media and put them into a folder in my Twitter and Instagram apps. I'll follow them on social media for three or four days, and then go back in and write down the places that all those people are eating.”
“It's the easiest way to find great places to eat and I have a nickname for it,” says Zimmern. “I call it ‘crowdsourcing expertise.’”
We’ve all made the mistake of landing in a city and looking around for somewhere to eat at the last minute, when you’re hungry. You can get lucky that way, but more often than not, it leads to a substandard experience that can colour experience of a city. If you’re visiting a city, you need to get to the culinary heart of the place and with just a little research, listening to the right voices on the scene, you can get the insider knowledge to make a drastic difference to your city stay.
“Why wouldn't I want to dine in Paris restaurants that are popular with Parisian food writers, Parisian chefs and Parisian food editors? It’s so easy to Google the food journalists at the big Parisian publications, follow them on social media and see what they're eating. That way, you can figure out what's hot in Paris right now.”