EatAndTheCity is a Finalist for the Serendipity Challenge 2018
EatAndTheCity, offering a unique 3-sided platform combining the restaurants, media and the end users has been chosen as a finalist in Serendipity Challenge, the annually organized entrepreneurship competition and tech venue for the most innovative companies in the Nordics. The Serendipity Challenge -competition highlights entrepreneurship and the final event, culminating in the venue in Almedalen, functions most of all as a meeting point for entrepreneurs and startups to connect with business leaders, investors, media, politicians, and partners and to showcase their products and services on a public arena.
Serendipity Challenge mainly still concentrates on Swedish businesses and industry, yet is open for all future-oriented and most innovative start-ups and growth companies in the rest of the Nordics. Among the 50 finalists, those including also otherthree Finnish companies; Altum Technologies, Naava and Vainu, EatAndTheCity competes for being awarded as the “Startup Company of the Year”. The finals take place in Silicon Valley of Almedalen in Gotland, Sweden from the 2nd to 4th of July. The jury evaluates companies and business ideas based on their uniqueness, scalability and market potential, team competency and global applicability.
Here, we believe EatAndTheCity can stand out of the pool of participants as we notably differ from them industrywise and have a unique scalable platform with great global growth prospects.
–Ilkka O. Lavas, the CEO of EatAndTheCity
Serendipity Challenge enhances companies´ international growth plan
Being one of the finalists is a great honour for us and indicates that the global potential of our extraordinary business model has been recognized by competition organizers; revolutionizing restaurant e-commerce and media field by working with the top media around the globe. We are proud of being able to say, that our future plans are greatly in line with Serendipity Challenge’s aim of promoting the Nordic region as a tech hub for innovative, emerging enterprises that transform, improve, and develop industries on a global level.
Our journey towards becoming a global trendsetter in restaurant e-commerce and media industry is close to its breakthrough. Winning this competition would greatly support our goal of accelerating fast growth in the future. To foster our international growth plan we are also planning to open a Series A round at the beginning of 2019.
Ilkka O. Lavas, the CEO of EatAndTheCity
EatAndTheCity is part of the City Digital corporation which consists of, for example, table booking platform TableOnline, restaurant search engine Eat.fi,
ad network Improve Media and the City Magazine. EatAndTheCity is a restaurant discovery platform founded in 2016 operating in several cities in Finland,
Germany and Estonia.
I’m addicted to Netflix’ series about Chefs (Chef’s Table, Mind of a Chef, and Ugly Delicious). These are not cooking shows. They are biographies, of chefs, and of cuisines.
The chefs struggle with tradition, to find their voices, and with the multifaceted challenges of producing in a new way.
Throughout these series, chefs emphasize that it’s the ingredients who inspire them, and that without superlative ingredients they couldn’t do what they do. (The ingredients don’t do it by themselves, either.)
Alain Passard, whose restaurant Arpège has had 3 Michelin stars for 20 years, reached a point of crisis. “In 1998, something changed in me. Working with meat became painful.” He removed meat from the menu and told Michelin “I’ve made my decision. Now you make yours.” He still has his stars and is credited as one of the progenitors of the “farm to table” movement. “My garden saved my life.” (Chef’s Table France Episode 1)
One of the most touching stories is of a 4th-generation gelato-maker, Corrado Assenza, who inherited Café Sicilia in Noto, Italy. Here’s the transcript from Chef’s Table Season 4 Episode 2.
Granita is a sweet dish, made of flavored ice, like a sorbet. Almost all Sicilians eat granita and brioche for breakfast. And there are two different groups of people: those who eat almond every morning, and those who eat lemon every morning. And they don’t change. I prefer the almond.
This is the place where we grow the best almonds in the world. We use the entire almond to make the granita, and you taste the difference. The richness of taste, the notes of sweetness, it’s the touch of something which refreshes your palate, but simultaneously refreshes your mind…
Caffé Sicilia was important to the village, a landmark for many. It has been passed down in my family for four generations. But the laboratory was entrusted to the only pastry chef not from the family, Mr. Roberto Giusto. He lived to work and was recognized as important by the whole town. I’d play in the laboratory with Maestro Roberto… Roberto would give me little chores like in a house, like in a family: bringing a kilo of flour, bringing the almonds, bringing the honey vase He started to teach me about life in Noto and at Caffé Sicilia. He said the work of the pastry chef is to make the classic Italian pastries. But it isn’t enough to know kitchen techniques. You have to recognize raw materials in nature and respect the land…
I asked myself, “If Maestro Roberto was here now, what would he do?” I thought about what he taught me, how to make the basic recipes with quality ingredients.
But the most important ingredient was at risk.
So, while the Romana almond has become the most famous almond of our land There’s very few of them.I needed to figure out what was happening.
So, I went to the farmers.
They told me that the big problem was the traders, who decided the almond was not worth investing money in. As a result, the farmers abandoned the land.
It was a massacre. Without the almond, I couldn’t make almond granita. The taste of Caffé Sicilia was disappearing.
I had to do something. So I put together a plan to save the almond. We would cut out the traders, so the farmers could sell the almond directly to us. We started to spread it among the farmers. I had to convince them to fight for the almond because it’s a cultural heritage. Because if it disappears, it will never come back. It was a long and slow process, but eventually they wanted to work with us.
We brought [the almond] to the taste expo in Milan. From that moment on, the world knew of the existence of our almond. Then, I went back to the laboratory to work on a new recipe to highlight the almond…I rediscovered my purpose, to preserve my land, my Sicily…
Franzo, our great shepherd and ricotta producer, works from 2:30 a.m. to midnight, hand milking over 500 animals to make the ricotta perfect. Franzo is a person of quality, extremely serious and rigorous. But the public doesn’t know anything about his work, and that’s a huge regret for me. I want him to succeed in giving a future to his family and his farm. So I made my friends appreciate Franzo’s products, cooks, pizza makers, pastry chefs, and now they buy his cheeses. He always thanks me for what I am doing for him, but it’s me who should constantly thank him.
The gelato I make with the ricotta, flavored with rum and chopped pistachios, would be impossible without Franzo’s work. It’s my duty, if he gives me his perfect ricotta, to make the perfect gelato…
Over time, it became increasingly difficult to focus only on the work inside of the kitchen. Sicily had become commercialized. Where there were once vegetable gardens, those lands were used to build shopping centers. Fake cities, where you don’t buy fresh. You buy preserved. And you call that civilization? This is ignorance. I knew there was still quality everywhere in Sicily. I needed to make the world understand the difference between a commercialized product and the quality born in this land.
You can sweep away tradition in a short period of time, and substitute it with something else.
I can’t do that.
I have deep roots here in Sicily, my land where I live and work.
The clear air, the blue sky, the strong yellow of the wild dried herbs.
The light, the sounds, the colors a spectacular landscape that produces the best ingredients in the world.
It inspires me to create from nature, to understand what is good and can be transformed into food.
This is how you build a recipe.
I want to protect and share our culture, to honor our traditions.
In every expression of our work, bringing to the world a perspective that belongs to this land.
The Italian organization, Slow Food, helps products like the Sicilian Romana almond to survive through its “Ark of Taste” (1999–), established as a Presidium system (2008–).
Season 2 of Mind of a Chef follows Chef Sean Brock, who describes his work as “restoring cuisine” in the American South. He works with Glenn Roberts, founder of Anson Mills, whose lifework is to “repatriate the landrace varietals” such as Carolina Golden Rice. Here’s an article that tells the story.
In truth, these days I mostly eat raw vegetables, chopped just small enough to fit in my mouth, without dressing. Not for any kind of puritanical food ideology, but because it’s fast, cheap, and clean.
But when I go to Italy, I want food culture. That means, intervention. Cheese. Cuisine. Ingredients. Tradition.
I would also like to have candlelight, but apparently the Argentine preference for headache-inducing overhead lighting so the waiters can keep an eye on you is straightup traditional Italian. So anyway. So there we are under the stage lights, which certainly do make it easier to read the menu.
I looked for the “typical rustic polenta” of this region, and lake fishes, like in the photo.
The restaurants were carefully selected, recommended by Slow Lake Como and Slow Food Como. For example:
Host our guests with spontaneity, simplicity and gusto…Indeed our first aim is to research natural and tasteful products. Therefore we love travelling in order to discover local artisans who work with passion and patience and are not likely to accept the compromises of the large-scale production. We have known them for quite a while and we regularly visit their realities. This has enabled us to build solid relationships based on mutual confidence and respect…According to our philosophy, it is very important to enhance the tradition and culture of Italian gastronomy through the choice of genuine products: our cured meats are free of artificial preservatives, our cheeses come from local producers who breed their animals respectfully and all the ingredients we use in our kitchen are from organic and biodynamic agriculture.
Judging by the cheese and charcuterie plates, the ingredients were indeed of superlative artisan quality.
But the cooked food was inedible. Because the ingredients did not meet a trained chef between the farm and our table. Beautiful lake fish and fresh pasta overcooked, oversalted, unrefined.
The passionate serving staff did provide lectures about the commitments to culture, region, and producers. But we were hungry, and unfilled by lectures.
Nature is abundant. Agriculture is the craft of husbandry to nature. But the human-nature interaction doesn’t end there. The farmers’ bounty needs further care. Cellaring (of wine, cheese, and preserves) is a skilled and necessary craft. “Technique” is the methods for eliciting the ingredients’ best flavor, adjusting to seasonal and daily changes in ingredients’ character.
Gnocchi di Ricotta… succulent…tender dumplings … But since fresh ricotta varies in texture, flavor, and moisture content, depending on the season, what the animals are eating, who is making it, and how long they drain it, we often need to tinker with the recipe, adding more Parmigiano-Reggiano for flavor, or butter for richness. If the cheese is particularly wet, we add a little more egg, or we hang it overnight in cheesecloth, refrigerated (or we do both). –Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Café Cookbook
And a chef who works with seasonal and regional commitments needs great sensitivity and creativity. At his 3 Michelin-starred restaurant, Arpège, Alain Passard does not write down recipes. He improvises daily, with what arrives in the morning from his two farms. The most important moment in the life of the restaurant is the ritual of the arrival of the vegetables. Passard says “I spend the day taking risks” and my only goal is to “love what I do more every day.” (Chef’s Table France, Episode 1)
A chef is not enough without ingredients. An ingredient is not enough without a chef.
And a restaurant is not enough with only ethics (or candles, for that matter).
Finalist for the 2018 Red Herring Top 100 Europe Award
The globally growing restaurant discovery platform, EatAndTheCity, has been selected as a finalist for Red Herring’s Top 100 Europe award, a prestigious list honouring the year’s most promising private technology ventures from the European business region. EatAndTheCity is part of a Finnish media corporation, City Digital, which originally built up around a legendary Finnish City magazine, City.
According to Ilkka Lavas, the CEO of City Digital and evangelist of EatAndTheCity, the nomination is significant for the company’s future: “Being selected as one of the finalists is a natural step in our journey towards becoming a global company. We already have significant clients in Germany, and one of the biggest media houses in Germany, Süddeutsche Zeitung, has helped us to open doors to other major distribution channels in Germany. Together with, for example, Berlin Food Week and Capital we are developing the modern restaurant culture. We’re also opening an office in the UK this summer, and we already have an agreement with a notable British media house”.
Being one of the finalists will bring new opportunities
“This year was rewarding, beyond all expectations,” said Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring. “There are many great companies generating really innovative and disruptive products in Europe. We had a very difficult time narrowing the pool and selecting the finalists. EatAndTheCity shows great promise and therefore deserves to be among the finalists. Now we’re faced with the difficult task of selecting the Top 100 winners of Red Herring Europe. We know that the 2018 crop will grow into some amazing companies that are sure to make an impact
Being one of the finalists will bring new opportunities and makes it easier to secure funding for accelerating growth: the plan is to open a Series A round at the beginning of 2019. The finalists are invited to present their winning strategies at the Red Herring Europe Forum in Amsterdam, April 15-17, 2018. The Top 100 winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony on the evening of April 17 at the event.
A pioneer in Finnish marketing know-how
“We have been noticed around the world. I think it says something about the high-level marketing know-how in Finland that even one of the biggest media houses in India has heard good things about us”, Lavas says.
EatAndTheCity is a restaurant discovery platform founded in 2016 operating in several cities in Finland, Germany and Estonia. EatAndTheCity is part of the City Digital corporation which consists of, for example, table booking platform TableOnline, restaurant search engine Eat.fi, ad network Improve Media and the City Magazine.
The CEO of City Digital / EatAndTheCity.com