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Fat Guy

Bouche

36 posts in this topic

The WikiGullet Project

I’m very pleased to announce a brand new venture for the Society of Culinary Arts & Letters: the WikiGullet project ( http://wiki.egullet.org ).

For a decade, you’ve helped eG Forums become the best culinary discussion site on the internet. Now we'd like to ask for your help in taking the knowledge and energy that drives eGullet.org in a thrilling new direction: a collaborative culinary encyclopedia. I hope you'll be as enthusiastic about this project as I am; even more, I hope you will help make it a success.

I'm continually amazed at the rich body of knowledge in this community. Whether it's extolling the benefits of copper-clad cookware or debating the proper internal temperature of a perfectly cooked fruitcake, eG Forums have always been the best place to go to hash out culinary questions. Members have proposed -- and we've considered -- various book projects as ways to collect this knowledge in one place. But our strength as a Society is communal and dynamic; the cumulative trucs and tricks born from our years of kitchen experience and passion for food would be constrained by the static format of the printed page. Since we've carried out our mission primarily through Internet food media, a wiki seemed to be the perfect choice. My colleagues and I feel that, in our decennial year, this is the perfect undertaking for our community, embodying the essence of what we are, and promising to advance the culinary arts.

You've proven your knowledge and passion with your participation in eG Forums. We hope you will expand on that by writing and editing articles for the WikiGullet Project. (And yes, that name is temporary. This is very much a beta product.)

We started this project very recently, inviting a small test group of members about a week ago to help us generate some content and (mostly) discover bugs and correct a few problems. There's not much there right now, but with your help I know that it will develop into the premier compendium of culinary knowledge on the Internet.

The WikiGullet project team stands ready to help you traverse the learning curve. Janet Zimmerman (JAZ in the forums) is directing the project, Chris Hennes is the technology head of this project (as well as the whole organization), Chris Amirault is the liaison with eG Forums and has been heavily involved in WikiGullet development, and Dave Scantland is handing the design, marketing and development aspects of the project.

We’ve started a forums discussion topic here to ask questions, make suggestions, and maybe even find the perfect name.

But first, please take some time and explore the WikiGullet Project. I know I found it completely overwhelming at first, and even after a couple of weeks of internal testing I feel unsure about seemingly basic aspects. For me it has been like using a long-neglected set of muscles, or a newly grown set, because a wiki is so different from an online discussion forum. But the beauty of this project is that it’s perfect for beginners and advanced members alike – add what you know and don’t worry about what you don’t know. Someone else will come along and add to it, and before long, the strength of our membership will give us a culinary resource unequaled in its breadth and depth.

To start, go to http://wiki.egullet.org and use your eG Forums member name and password to log on. Dive right in.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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You've no doubt noticed two new topics related to the release of Modernist Cuisine, the epic, multivolume work by Society member Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Mixime Bilet.

The two topics are good examples of how we strive to meet the Society's statement of purpose. Indeed, our excitement about Modernist Cuisine stems from the opportunity its publication provides to take great leaps forward in many areas of that statement:

The purpose of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters is to increase awareness and knowledge of the arts of cooking, eating and drinking, as well as the literature of food and drink. ... We believe that:

- Good food doesn’t have to be expensive or esoteric – just good. Good food and drink aren't exclusive to the rich and well-traveled; ...

- Professional cooks and passionate amateur cooks, professional producers and hobbyists of food and drink, professional food and beverage writers and passionate amateur writers each have something special to bring to the table. The conversation is richer and more interesting when the worlds of the professional and the amateur are brought together;

- Food can both satisfy physical needs and engage the highest functions of intellect. It can be a commodity, a craft, an art. Though a source of bodily pleasure, food and drink are also worthy subjects for discussion, at practical, aesthetic and philosophical levels[.]

While only a handful of folks have been able to get more than a glimpse at the book, those who have believe that its publication marks a watershed moment in culinary history -- and we're not alone, based on wide media reviews and reports. When books start showing up at people's doors later this month, we're sure that the excitement will grow exponentially.

We are thrilled to be part of this moment, and we want you to be a part of it too! Simply look for topics that have been tagged as "Modernist" and dive into the discussion. Whether you want to learn how to distinguish different kinds of tapioca maltodextrin, figure out what wet-bulb temperature means, or nail your macaroni & cheese recipe, we trust that you'll find a cutting-edge discussion of the topic here in eG Forums. And if you can't find the perfect topic? Well, start one of your own!

I've gotta get back to my fried chicken, so see you on the Forums -- and in the kitchen!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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If it ever seems to you like Society members are just a bunch of food- and drink-obsessed nuts who gather in a metaphorical hallway of meeting rooms and pretty much talk to ourselves, maybe you should widen your focus.

A couple of months ago, we declared 2011 "Gully's Year of Modernist Cuisine." Maybe that seemed odd, but with Myhrvold, Young and Bilet's epic tome on the way, along with (auto)biographies of notable modernists Ferran Adria and Grant Achatz, it made sense to us. (Of course, it hasn't slowed the panoply of non-modernist issues we discuss -- thank goodness!)

What we didn't anticipate was the influence our discussions would have in the world outside our forums. Modernist Cuisine -- a work that even with substantial discounts is probably the most expensive cookbook any of us, or anyone we know, will purchase -- is not just Amazon's number one food reference book, but is at the 74th position among all books that Amazon sells. Surely, much credit is owed to the deft publicity deployed by the Modernist Cuisine team, but we're going to claim our share, too. That's because for every member that logs in to read and post, there are a couple of dozen visitors who've never registered -- we share our meeting rooms with a multitude of eavesdroppers. Those are the people who not only propelled Modernist Cuisine to its lofty perch; they've also made it impossible to procure a home version of a vacuum chamber in less than four weeks, or iota carrageenan in fewer than ten days. We aren't hanging out in meeting rooms. We're holding discussions in a stadium.

But it's not just in the sales of a monumental book or formerly obscure chemicals that we're influential. Look at related topics, like sous-vide, the latest on El Bulli (one of several Adria-related topics), or even the six-year-old Alinea Project, and you'll see a disparate number of posts versus views. That doesn't just reflect the multiple times you clicked to see if someone responded to your post (admit it -- you do it). It's all those peeps who want to read what you have to say, and it's never been more clear -- whether it's about Meyer lemons, wok burners, or meat glue -- that your voice matters.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Thanks to the hard work of Society members, notably --

  • Liuzhou
  • FrogPrincesse
  • PedroG
  • Xxchef
  • Iradubinsky
  • Vice
  • Mkayahara
  • Emannths
  • Gfweb
  • Kouign Aman
  • EatNopales
  • Mjx

-- the WikiGullet project is growing in depth and breadth. We've compiled nearly 600 articles on topics from cheese and butter to sous vide and nouvelle cuisine. That means we've only got a few hundred thousand left to do, so . . .

This week we're announcing the first of our featured WikiGullet topics -- Salads!

Any salad aficionados out there want to help? Check out the salad page and add to it, edit it (yes, you're allowed -- that's how a wiki grows and gets stronger), or add pages for your favorite salads, from Caesar to larb. If you're not sure how to get started, here's a suggestion: take a look at the red text on the Salad page -- those are called "redlinks" in wiki parlance, and they point to an entry that doesn't yet exist. Just click on one of them, and you'll get a fresh new page, already titled, ready for you type away.

Every week or two we'll feature a different category to work on -- but of course you can add anything at any time. Just dive in wherever your interest and expertise lead you!


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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Society volunteers work hard behind the scenes to create and organize content, fix snafus, and raise funds to keep the Society going. Most of us work in teams, and we get a little feedback now and then letting us know you appreciate our work (or giving us tips on how to do it better!).

Today we'd like to identify one volunteer who works entirely alone with no contact with active members at all -- yet every current member of the Society owes her a debt of gratitude. For years, Kristin Yamaguchi (torakris) has been overseeing all aspects of Society membership application, ushering thousands of people through the process. All the while, she takes time out to share her remarkable knowledge of Japanese food and culture with us.

So I hope you'll join me by thanking her for all this hard work! You can leave her a personal message by clicking here.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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We recently posted our volunteer ethics policy for your consideration. These are the guidelines our staffers have agreed to follow for the past several years. A few highlights:

"When reporting is based on complimentary products or services, it must be disclosed, as must relevant potential conflicts of interest. It is usually sufficient to disclose a potential conflict or a comp, e.g., a close tie with a particular restaurateur or chef, or the fact that a meal has been provided free of charge, once. However, repeat disclosure is required when it is central to subsequent discussions."

"A volunteer involved in a debate may not act as a moderator in that debate."

"We will comply with copyright and other intellectual property laws. We will not tolerate any form of plagiarism."

"If we report on an organization or individual who funds the Society, we will disclose that relationship."

"We will not give favored editorial treatment to Society donors, underwriters, friends, volunteers, correspondents or special-interest groups."

The complete volunteer ethics policy is available here.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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There's been quite a bit more eGullet buzz around the internet and traditional media these days, much of it associated with our discussions of Modernist Cuisine. And with that added interest comes... well, other kinds of interest.

Wikipedia defines "shill" as

a person who helps another person or organization to sell goods or services without disclosing that he or she has a close relationship with the seller.

Given the high quality of discussion here on eG Forums; given that, as a non-profit, we don't accept advertisements; given that Society members' shared, avid interest in all things culinary makes marketers swoon: we have our fair share of shills. And given how keen our members are about our mission, you're our best resource for finding them.

When you do, just click that "Report" button with the little yellow bell next to it. That will send your note to all hosts, identifying the post and the issue you have with it -- and it keeps off-topic posts from the topic itself. We all appreciate the value of having forums that are free of the sort of back-biting, flames, and other clutter you'll find elsewhere in spades, and this is our best tool for handling your feedback.

And handle it we will. Rest assured, we've got good tools back here for sniffing out and dealing shills. That is to say: we're on the case. :wink:


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Up the Bouche topic a bit, I described our host recruitment and probation process using Dave Viola, aka vice, as an example. He's off probation now and a full-fledged host. Please join me in welcoming him by sending him a PM!

As always, don't hesitate to send me a PM if you're interested in supporting the Society as a volunteer.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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If you haven't yet checked out the WikiGullet Project, take a look and add to it. It's easy! And remember, it's not just a list of ingredients and cooking terms; it also includes restaurants, books, chefs and authors. If you work at a restaurant, add an entry. You've written a book? Start a page.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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This Saturday, August 27, the eG Forums will be taken offline at noon Eastern while we migrate to a new host. This process is expected to take the bulk of the day, but we hope to have service restored by that evening. Thanks for your patience!


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Welcome to the new, improved eG Forums website! OK, actually you shouldn't notice any changes at all: we've moved our hosting to Rackspace, but the site is the same. If you notice any problems (in particular links that worked yesterday and don't work today, images that were there yesterday but are gone now, etc.) please contact me. Thanks!


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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