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Get Ready, We’re Close To Paying For Food With Social Media

Imagine pulling up to McDonald’s, opening an app that tracks your Instagram or Twitter activity, and being able to pay for your Big Mac for having five followers, or paying for your date’s dinner using social credit accumulated through charity donations.

I’m talking social currency, fairly similar to the “Nosedive” episode from Netflix’s Black Mirror, where your social status is tracked and deemed a deciding factor for all purchases, from the vacation trips you can afford to what food you can eat.

While Black Mirror is meant to freak you out with its absurd sci-fi horror-based situations, technology shouldn’t frighten us.

It’s time to accept it, because these advances are coming fast, and you don’t want to get left behind.

Black Mirror’s “Nosedive” predicted our use of social currency/Courtesy of Netflix

Case in point, the selfie-powered vending machine that’s already been spotted on U.S. soil.

The machine’s premise is simple: you push the big “start” button, take a selfie, use its randomly generated hashtag, and the moment you post it to your Instagram account, the machine will either drop some Cup Noodles, a Jump Force video game, gift cards, or Cup Noodles swag.

Even with countries like Japan and Germany having insane vending machines that spit out pancakes, beer and other goodies, those all obviously run on monetary currency that we’re all accustomed to.

You literally pay with your Instagram posts, and it’s one of the first steps to a Black Mirror-projected future that we must be ready to embrace with open arms.

As I write this, there is someone taking a selfie and waiting for their prize to come out of that machine. That’s not even hyperbole, I literally know it’s happening at this moment because our own Foodbeast tech director Chris Abouabdo gets text messages every time someone uses it, and I hear his phone buzzing relentlessly during the workday.

Yes, the two geniuses behind the machine are in-house Foodbeast developers, but I’m not just trying to hype up or toot the company horn here — I’m writing this because it could legitimately help push forward a social currency-led future.

While these “FOODBEAST #DreamMachines” have sat on the shopping mall floors of The Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, California, and the Las Vegas South Premium Outlets in Las Vegas, they were built within the Foodbeast office walls by engineers Rudy Chaney and Abouabdo.

Every once in a while, I’d run downstairs, and ask about the machine, and one of the points that stuck with me most, was Chris matter-of-factly telling me they could have “easily” made the machine run on people’s follower counts if they wanted to, giving more expensive prizes to people with more followers.

They even could have hypothetically gone as far as only giving prizes to those who wrote positive things about the vending machine within their post, which shows the possibility to advance the social currency concept further.

From the moment they figured out how to get the machine to run, writing the specific commands and functions was cake for two engineers of their caliber.

If you need further proof that the future is now, let’s take a quick trip to China.

Anyone who’s been to China knows that they’ve mostly said goodbye to cash, and primarily pay through currency apps such as WeChat. Whether you roll up to get some Yang’s braised chicken, or dancing noodles at Hai Di Lao Hot Pot, citizens pull out their phones in lieu of cash or credit.

 

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That’s just the scratched surface, however, as the country has been testing “social credit” since 2014, tracking and rewarding its citizens who conduct positive lifestyles.

Yup. That’s happening right now. In 2019.

The FOODBEAST #DreamMachine concept obviously wasn’t built to rank people according to their followers, likes, or anything of the sort. The goal was basically to find a cool way to give away Cup Noodles and swag.

But the technology to take things a step further now exists.

The machine has caught the attention of the tech world, including the raspberry pi community, which is the mini computer the guys used to build this thing.

Sometimes all it takes is the wherewithal to know something is possible, and someone could easily start working on their own version of the technology.

We could easily see copycat ideas, and if food brands are smart enough to push their own marketing strategies, we’ll soon live in a world where you have to take a selfie and post a hashtag to get through a Starbucks door, or automatically get 10% off your Chick-Fil-A order for sending out a tweet. I mean, we already kind of do that when checking in to restaurants on Yelp or Facebook, so the next step can’t be too much further.

 

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Now back to the Black Mirror concepts. It’s easy to scare yourself through the episode’s horror and bleak lens into technology’s darker side premise, but if this little revolutionary vending machine shows anything, it’s that if put into the right hands, technology can be used for progress.

Chaney and Abouabdo spoke very candidly about the vending machine on The Katchup podcast, down to admitting that the machine actually was inspired by Black Mirror.

“I had been watching Black Mirror, where everything in your life is based off your social status,” Chaney said on the podcast. “I just remember thinking, ‘How crazy would it we made a vending machine that would spit out prizes based on how cool you are on Instagram?'”

Thankfully that wasn’t the final premise, and the machine was built with a more user-friendly experience.

It all starts by figuring out that first step, and it appears that paying for food through social currency has already taken that first step in the form of a selfie-powered Cup Noodles vending machine.

To hear the full podcast with the fathers of our inevitable social-based pay methods, Rudy Chaney and Chris Abouabdo, be sure to tune in to The Katchup and subscribe to hear more on iTunes, Spotify and anywhere podcasts can be heard.

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Shopping Centers Have Become Foodie Destinations, This Mall Is Proof Of That

Mall food is going through a revitalization right now across the country. What used to be standard food court corn dogs and pizza has flourished into a gathering spot of unique restaurants and culinary concepts that have turned the shopping centers into foodie destinations.

Such is the case with Southern California’s Del Amo Fashion Center, a place that people frequent as much for the stores as they do for the eats. For the mall, it’s the restaurants that stand out in its food scene, each of which has a creative spin on standard fare that makes every location worth a stop.

Whether it’s building the burger tower of your dreams at Stacked or tucking into gourmet lamb gnocchi at Bazille inside of Nordstrom, this mall’s food scene is as eclectic as it is epic.

If you’re heading to Del Amo Fashion Center for a shopping trip, make sure to set aside some time for the food. It’s not the food court fare you’d expect from a mall by any measure.

You can check out Stacked, Bazille, and other next-level gastronomic experiences at Del Amo Fashion Center in Foodbeast’s newest episode of Chomping Grounds, featured in the above video.

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What To Eat With Man’s Best Friend While Dining At This Dog-Loving Restaurant Chain


A lot of restaurants and chains have incorporated dog and pet-friendly policies over the years, but not everyone has had one from the start. If you go to the Lazy Dog, a dog-themed and dog-friendly restaurant chain, though, you’ll find two entire menus: one dedicated to dogs, and another expansive one for their owners.

Foodbeast’s own Marc Kharrat and Elie Ayrouth teamed up with Josh Elkin, the Undisputed Champion of Breakfast and host of the Cooking Channel’s Sugar Showdown, to try out both menus from cover to cover. On the latest episode of Foodbeast’s show Going In, they went to the Lazy Dog location at the Del Amo Fashion Center to sample the chain’s entire offering.

Based on what they tried and reviewed, here are some recommendations on what to order for both you and man’s best friend on the Lazy Dog menu.

Food Bowls for Dogs 

The Lazy Dog’s dedicated dog menu is simple, but gets your pet all of the nutrients they need. It consists of plain grilled chicken or burger meat, white or brown rice, and veggies. It’s completely okay for humans to eat, too, should you want to eat dinner alongside your dog.

Three Cheese Pizza

In terms of human food, Ayrouth and Elkin were both big fans of the Three Cheese Pizza. The Lazy Dog’s take on the classic flavor combines mozzarella, Romano, and Parmesan cheese onto one pie.

Ayrouth recommends getting it with chili oil on the side. You can ask for it, drizzle it over the pizza, and get a tasty combo of spicy and cheesy that’ll leave your taste buds tingling.

Mac + Cheese

One of Elkin’s go-to favorites was the Mac + Cheese, a small plate with smoked bacon, hatch chiles, five cheese, and a green onion crumble. There’s plenty of flavor to go around on this one.

Chili Peanut Wings

The Chili Peanut Wings were also a tasty favorite for Elkin. They’re coated in a marinade featuring pineapple juice and fish sauce alongside a variety of chilies and other aromatics for a balanced, flavorsome wing.

Simms Family S’more 

Kharrat especially loved this treat because of the campfire nostalgia that it evoked. He said that it “speaks to that campfire culture that the founders seem to be pulling inspiration from and that made it stand out for me.”

Bison Burger

Ayrouth was a particularly huge fan of the bison burger because he felt that it was THE menu item that best achieved the “zen the founders of the restaurant set out to display,” as he put it. “It took me to the wilderness with every bite,” he said, “all the while remembering I was just in a shopping mall.”

As for Marc…

He was just really excited about the massive slab of watermelon served on the side.  


Created in partnership with Del Amo Fashion Center. 

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The Dishes You HAVE To Try While Gaming At Dave & Buster’s


We all know Dave & Buster’s as the grown-up arcade spot where you can relive being a little kid. But going just for that means you’re missing out on a pretty expansive menu of drinks and eats to fill up on while gaming.

The Dave & Buster’s menu isn’t necessarily new, but it went through a revamp a couple of years ago that brought a ton of items in that weren’t there before. Foodbeast’s own Elie Ayrouth and Marc Kharrat joined up with FaZe clan chef FaZe Cheo at the Del Amo Fashion Center location to go try out the entire menu for themselves.

Yes, they ate through the entire menu at Dave & Buster’s in a single setting. You can see the insane feat above in Foodbeast’s latest episode of Going In.

Based on what they consumed, here are some of the recommended items to try on the menu from Ayrouth, Kharrat, and Cheo.

Drinks

One of the drinks the squad really enjoyed was the new Frose, a blended icy beverage with strawberry puree, Absolute citron, and plenty of rose wine both in the slush and poured into it via mini-bottle. Both Elie and Marc were astounded at how good it tasted.

Elie is drawn to anything that’s Instagram-appealing, so the Green Ghost Glow Kone caught his eye. Made with Crown Royal Apple, Smirnoff Green Apple, and Monin Granny Smith Apple, the glow cube inside makes the entire drink light up like a neon sign. It tastes just as good as it looks, too.

The Strawberry Mango Margarita also stood out because of its bright red color and cubes of strawberry. They keep the drink from diluting but also add a great hue and flavor to the whole beverage.

Food

When it came to the food, the whole squad slurped up the Bang Bang Chicken and Noodles pretty quickly. The combo of spicy fried chicken and peanut noodles was a favorite for all three.

One of the craziest items on Dave & Buster’s menu is the Buffalo Wing Burger, which comes topped with a couple of chicken tenders drenched in spicy buffalo sauce. It brings the heat, but also provides a huge “flavor punch,” as Ayrouth described it.

Cheo was a fan of the Short Rib & Cheesy Mac Stack, a sandwich that brings the two together in a savory flavor bomb. It makes for a pretty comforting dish that’ll make you happy even if you’re not reeling in the tickets.

Having all of the food at Dave & Buster’s is pretty convenient, since you can grub to prep for your squad’s arcade marathon or vice versa. And no matter how you do in terms of getting tickets, at least there’s good food and good times abound.


Created in partnership with Del Amo Fashion Center

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A 60-Year-Old Churro Recipe Is This Mall’s Hidden Gem

When you’re at the mall looking for a quick snack, like a churro, you probably walk up to the counter, make an order, and take off as soon as you have your on-the-go treat. Doing this at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Southern California, however, means you’re missing out on something truly special.

Churro Buzz, one of the mall’s newest food stalls, is home to a 60-year-old recipe and one of the tastiest churros you can find in SoCal. There’s also more unique items, like “churro boats” filled with various toppings and even churro ice cream sandwiches.

But it’s so much more than the crispy, chewy fried dough at this spot. That’s because it’s also the newest chapter in the incredible life stories of the people that put a ton of TLC into your treat.

Tany Rodriguez is the man who ensures that every churro comes out perfect, and his story is just as incredible as the flavor of one of his handmade treats. He’s been an integral part of the Churro Buzz story long before it arrived at Del Amo. Rodriguez has been handling the churro duties since 1991, when he started work at the popular Pier Bakery in nearby Redondo Beach. Prior to that, he was a homeless immigrant from Mexico, but has been all smiles and dancing ever since he managed to get the job.

In his time at the bakery and at Churro Buzz, Rodriguez has made over 5 million churros, each one just as golden, crispy, and tasty as the rest. You can see his passion for the treats go into every single order, whether it be on the beach or at the Del Amo Fashion Center.

Another incredible life story behind Churro Buzz comes from the owners, Jay and Parin Demel. The children of Sri Lankan immigrants, they bought the original business from a Mexican woman, allowing her to retire after years of running the stand. With the bakery came the long-standing churro recipe that Parin had fell in love with upon her first bite. Since then, the recipe hasn’t changed, and the bakery has long become a fixture of Redondo Beach. The Demels and Rodriguez hope that Churro Buzz can develop a similar legacy at Del Amo.

The backgrounds of the Demels and Rodriguez, and the tale of Churro Buzz, represent so much more than just another churro stand. As Foodbeast’s latest episode of Taste the Details reveals, it’s all about believing in and achieving the American Dream. To get the complete story and understand why, watch the full episode above.


Created in partnership with Del Amo Fashion Center

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This Ice Cream Chain’s Insta-Worthy Desserts Are Topped With Real Honeycomb


The current ice cream social media game is flooded with photos of cones topped with cotton candy, swirled with a spectrum of colors, or utilizing some other kaleidoscopic visuals. However, there’s a SoCal chain called Honeymee that’s making their ice cream visually pop without the need for as much color, and it’s thanks to a special ingredient: organic raw honeycomb.

Honeycomb’s naturally perfect geometry and bright yellow hue make it contrast gorgeously with bright white ice cream. At Honeymee, you can find the honeycomb served as a unique and tasty garnish on a handful of their signature desserts, like colored waffle cones filled with ice cream or the “Honeymee,” a cup of true milk ice cream topped with a honey drizzle and a square of honeycomb.

For those who’ve never tried it before, honeycomb has more body and depth compared to just honey on its own because of its unique texture. This is where the honey is normally stored in in beehives, so it gets a concentration of the floral notes from all of the nectar gathered as well.

Honeymee’s simplistic but flavorsome menu has paid off. Even though they may not have the bright colors of some local ice cream rivals, the chain’s approach has made them explode in the past four years.

It’s not just about the honeycomb, which proves that you can make a visually stunning dessert without needing to use the entire rainbow. The rest of the menu has a focus on simple, pure ingredients that deliver big on flavor while retaining a perceptible charm. From the “true milk ice cream” to the drizzles of real honey and fresh-baked waffles, Honeymee’s approach is all about simplicity at its best, and it shows.

You can get the fragrant, sweet honeycomb at all of Honeymee’s locations, including the one at the Del Amo Fashion Center.


Created in partnership with Del Amo Fashion Center

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3 Del Amo Fashion Center Spots That Transcend ‘Mall Food’

Positioned less than four miles from the Redondo Beach Pier, the Del Amo Fashion Center is a newly-built, sprawling modern retail hub, featuring some of the most stunning contemporary architecture found in Southern California.

But what’s really drawing crowds to Del Amo, isn’t so much the storefronts — it’s the food.  

With a long list of culturally diverse eateries, Del Amo isn’t just a shopping mall, it’s becoming a dining experience that’s just as beautiful on Instagram as it is in person.   

Del Amo is home to Frida Mexican Cuisine, featuring traditional Mexican classics like the Molcajete Frida — a giant boiling bowl of slightly spicy salsa verde sauce, made with tomatillos onions and cilantro, served with nopales (grilled cactus), chicken, juicy carne asada, and a creamy queso panela.

While seamlessly blending fine dining experiences with shopping and casual eating, Del Amo food court’s avant garde vibe has welcomed vendors like Pink’s Hot Dog’s — one of the most famous restaurants in the history of Los Angeles.

We all know Pink’s has a menu perfectly suited for the hungry fashion center crowds. If you plan on making a pit stop, check out the Jaws Burger. A charbroiled chili cheese burger, served with a perfectly grilled spicy Polish sausage, topped with lettuce, tomato and onions.

With a seemingly endless list of retailers and restaurants, it might be hard to choose something. So, here’s a pro tip — hit up Brio Coastal Bar & Kitchen. While you’re there, be sure to order the Buffalo Cauliflower Steak. Sliced cauliflower, grilled, then drizzled with a tangy buffalo sauce and a spicy horseradish sauce.

These are just a few of the spots that make Del Amo Fashion Center our Chomping Grounds.

Where are yours?


Created in partnership with Del Amo Fashion Center