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Technology

An app for all seasons

Wolfgang Puck wants to be America’s go-to-chef, and his new iPhone/iPad app. launched mid-April, may just help him realize his dream. The new app, called Live Love Eat!—developed by Gourmet Pixel Ltd.—is a natural evolution for the chef, who has already embraced other social media, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Facebook, Foodspotting and Foursquare, and continually seeks out ways to engage with customers and promote the Wolfgang Puck brand.

While Puck is not the first chef to offer an app for mobile and tablet platforms, his differs in several ways. First off, it is free. Also, Puck’s app is feature-rich, containing not only recipes, cooking tips and the like, but also event planning tools, a digital store for purchasing Puck-branded cookware, easy access to the chef’s restaurants, and seamless integration with social media.

It also gives Puck connectivity with his fan base, an aspect that holds particular interest for him. The app is an extension of his personalized “thank you” videos to guests who leave comments on his pages. “I want to be in touch with you, and I want you to be in touch with me,” Puck told participants at a live video event held on April 17th.

“Technology lets us keep in touch with all of our fans, which is really important,” Puck explained. “We want to encourage fans to be an active part of our world, from restaurants to products and recipes. Items like the iPhone app help fans to locate our restaurants in hotel and cities across the world, while Twitter and Facebook allow us to get the word out about upcoming promotions and specials. And of course, our ‘Thank You’ videos add another layer of connection with guests.”

Live Love Eat! fits in well with current trends. The National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast reports that consumer interest in using technology to interact with restaurants is poised to increase; currently 59% of consumers (up from 28% in 2005) note that they use online viewing for general restaurant information such as hours, location and menus. Gartner Group’s 2011 study on digital marketing states that digital strategies such as social and mobile marketing will influence at least 80 percent of consumer’s discretionary spending.

Indeed, within one week of its availability for download, Live Love Eat! drew 20,000 hits.

The app offers four main sections: Cook, Eat, Events and Buy. The cooking section, designed for both seasoned pros and weekend amateurs, serves up 30 recipes never before published; newly developed recipes are on the docket for the end of June. Thehome cook can view embedded videos showing specific recipes along with techniques and skills, such as how to peel an onion. The “Tips & Tricks" section also offers personalized recipe recommendations based upon the season, time and user's location; a Londoner in March, for example, will get different recipe recommendations than a New Yorker in July. Cooks can add ingredients to a "Shopping List" of items needed at the store or market.

“This is a perfect way to show new recipes,” Puck noted in the event launch. “We are making it easy for everybody in every situation. I wanted to bring my favorite recipes, cooking tips and tricks to our fans who share my passion for food and entertaining.”

Speaking to his fan base, Puck added, “I’ve included simpler recipes you can do at home; I don’t include recipes that you have to go to Italy to get truffles or to an Asian fish market to get blowfish. That wouldn’t be helpful. These are some of my favorite recipes; they aren’t too expensive, they are really tasty and delicious and your friends and family will just love them.”

For those looking to taking a night off from cooking, the app features a souped-up version of OpenTable, allowing users to make reservations at Wolfgang Puck restaurants worldwide, view menus, and even see pictures of the establishment. Fans can choose a restaurant based on budget, location, or style of food. A built-in GPS locator helps users locate Puck’s restaurants in airports, hotels and cities worldwide.

The app’s event planning capability lets users organize functions, from weddings to bar mitzvahs to dinner parties. iPhone-integrated functions are designed for easy entertaining, with an event countdown, guest list tracking and recipe and menu sharing. Users can also view locations and floor plans.

The shopping section provides access to Puck’s digital product store, offering cookware and kitchen appliances. A special “event” will be held every four-to-six weeks, offering special prices. Live Love Eat! also takes full advantage of social media interconnectivity; fans can “share” recipes directly with their Facebook friends.

“Live Love Eat! is all about making life easier at home or while traveling,” said Puck. “It gives VIP access to everybody, giving the best of what we have to offer.”

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