Frequently Asked Questions

Friends and families often ask us a lot of questions here at Chef Seattle about every aspect of our operation - from how we decide where to eat to what cameras we use. Here is the big list of questions that have been asked of us and the corresponding answers.

Do you get free meals for reviewing restaurants?

The vast majority of all reviews Chef Seattle has performed is out of our own pockets. We feel that this is the best way to keep reviews completely unbiased and without favoritism. In a few instances where we have been offered complimentary meals, we have taken guest reviewers along and remain strictly anonymous in order to keep our review as neutral as possible.

Some restaurants, in order to have their restaurants added to Chef Seattle, have reviews expedited so that they appear on our site faster than our normal turn-around time. These fees are included in our premium advertising packages and ensure a restaurant is listed, but has no guarantee or effect on how we rate the restaurant.

Featured restaurants are businesses that participate in Chef Seattle advertising packages. These businesses are featured as a way of helping promote their restaurant or services. Featured restaurants do not necessarily constitute a recommendation from Chef Seattle.

How do you decide which restaurants to eat at?

If we were to be honest, distance is one major factor. It doesn't help that Chef Seattle is based out of the Eastside and the restaurant scene is alive and well in the Westside. That said, the other big factor is simply a gut feeling. After eating out at a few hundred different restaurants, it's hard not to get a gut feeling (no pun intended) of whether or not we're about to find a gem in the rough or just a rough trip to the bathroom.

It's not entirely scientific, but it's better than our initial attempts, which involved drawing names out of a hat. That ended up quite poorly, with lots of trips to forgettable teriyaki and pho restaurants that we never published.

Why do you have so many reviews for the Eastside and not Seattle proper?

Chef Seattle is based out of Redmond, so it was natural for us to canvass the Eastside first and then expand out toward Seattle. We realize the irony of having more Eastside than Westside reviews given the name of our website, so we will be gradually shifting focus to the Seattle proper area.

We're looking at the idea of putting our base of operations out of downtown Seattle or getting qualified volunteers or applicants to help populate our Westside reviews. If you're interested, please contact us via the forums.

How can I recommend a restaurant?

We love new recommendations and encourage you to get in touch with us. Our forum is the best method to get in touch with Chef Seattle, so please post the restaurant you would like to recommend under the "Restaurant Recommendations" board. We review this section of the forum regularly as a guide of where to eat next.

Does Chef Seattle take it's own food pictures?

Yes, all restaurant photos and images that you see on Chef Seattle are all taken by us. Almost all pictures are taken with consumer level pocket cameras that fit snugly into our pant pockets. In some instances, we have been able to employ our SLR camera for better photography, though most of those shots are part of advertiser packages. We always note when a restaurant is an advertiser.

Because it has taken many, many hours of effort on the part of Chef Seattle to take and acquire all these photos, we ask kindly that you do not copy and use the photos for your own commercial or personal use.

We are far from professional level photographers, but we try to pick up tips and learn from experience along the way. Our article on food photography sums up many of the things we have discovered over the years.

I am a Seattle restaurant owner. Who can I contact for advertising information or general questions?

If you are a restaurant owner and have questions or are interested in advertising, please contact us at grant@chefseattle.com and he will get back to you as soon as possible.

Are you professional food critics?

When asked, we generally say no. Food critics are people who eat for a living, either for consumer food corporations or as media reviewers. Grant considers himself more of a webmaster and Steve thinks of himself as a graphics guy. Food critics are often exceptionally qualified in writing or tasting, whose skills easily humble us at Chef Seattle. The team reviews food on their own to help get the ball rolling, but also because it's cheaper than hiring a professional eater.

We believe that those with cooking backgrounds are the most capable of reviewing food, but also realize that food is highly subjective, much like art or fashion. What may taste sublime to one person may taste awful to another. A true critic is able to evaluate on execution and originality, rather than just personal tastes or whims. So while Grant and Steve have fairly strong food backgrounds, it's a wholly other realm to consider ourselves food critics.

Do you make multiple trips to restaurants?

Yes, but not in the context of reviewers, as the cost is prohibitive - especially for Seattle fine dining. Given an unlimited budget, we would be highly inclined to do so, as it's difficult to evaluate a restaurant solely on one visit alone. From items ordered to service received, the same restaurant can have vastly different scores from one visit to another. Chef Seattle tries to mitigate against this by having at least three reviewers per restaurant, especially for higher end restaurants.

"Your review for restaurant X is totally wrong, it was great/awful!"

We firmly believe that your mileage may vary not just for restaurants, but the majority of things in life that you pay for. As such, you're probably right and disagree with us based on your experience.

There is already City Search, Yelp and dozens of other food review sites out there, in addition to the Seattle PI, Seattle Weekly and The Stranger. Why create Chef Seattle?

The answer for this question is extremely long and not one that Grant would be able to sum up beautifully in two to three paragraphs. But if he were to try, it would sound something like this:

Traditional media: These sites are content rich, but offer poor interaction. These websites work best for one time or linear viewing, but generally lack organization or an information architecture that makes searching for a restaurant easy or intuitive. This opened the door for all the restaurant review sites now in place.

The big review sites offer superior technology, browsing and search, but often lack quality content and more importantly, trust. Some sites cater to the restaurants, while others to users; almost always at the expense of the other. In addition, these large sites have questionable business models that charge exorbitant (and we think unfair) fees for restaurants to advertise.

Chef Seattle is built with the model that anybody can leave a restaurant review, but only credible and qualified reviewers are able to affect a restaurant's public score. This offers the missing interaction between traditional media, but also removes the high amount of trust issues with websites that rely on crowd sourcing. We can compete in this arena because user monitoring and maintenance is cost inefficient for large review sites; plus, our overhead is low to begin with.

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