The Caféteria Manifesto
“Food is everything we are. It's an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It's inseparable from those from the get-go.” - Anthony Bourdain
There are two things in the world that connect us together: technology and food.
In the 11th century, China's invention of the compass enabled humans to explore the world and bridge distinct cultures. By the 15th century, advancements in maritime navigation technology led to the global spice trade and Age of Discovery. Around the same time, Johannes Gutenberg's printing press enabled the mass distribution of ideas and transformed Europe. In the 19th century, the invention of the refrigerator enabled perishable foods to be transported around the world and broadened the types of food and cuisines one could eat. In the 20th century, Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf's TCP/IP standards set the groundwork for a new paradigm of media and global communication on the internet.
There's a famous line that a prominent venture capitalist used to describe the tech industry's impact: ‘Software eats the world.’ It's a figurative use of the word “eats,” but what if we took it more literally? How can software change the way we eat?
You may have heard of the origin story of the Michelin Guide. The Michelin Guide was started by two brothers in 1889 who were strategizing how to sell more automobile tires in France for their namesake company. They ingeniously produced a small red guide filled with travel information and a curated selection of high-quality restaurants worth visiting. More than a century later (to their credit), we're still relying on an anonymous group of restaurant inspectors to tell us what the best restaurants around the world are. The Michelin Guide offers the food world a common language – two strangers could meet, Alice from Tokyo and Bob from New York, and bond over their experiences at Noma in Copenhagen and Pujol in CDMX.
The current technological and social movement surrounding cryptocurrencies and decentralized blockchains enables communities to create social tokens for any use case. Behind the irrational speculation that many tend to associate with cryptocurrencies is a fundamental paradigm shift – “value” can now be directly captured by individual contributors and creators rather than by corporations. Similar to how the internet and blogs enabled journalists and writers to go independent and make a living outside of the gatekeepers, we believe a similar movement can happen in the restaurant industry and food communities.
Caféteria is a curated community and digital platform for people passionate about food. The community is structured as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) with a $CAFE token that can be used as value amongst members.
What does that mean? Chefs, restaurateurs, critics, and diners in the community can use $CAFE to host and pay for popup dinners, crowdfund food projects, exchange restaurant reservations, or write reviews on a curated Yelp-like platform and receive tips. Allow yourself to dream for a second. What would the next Michelin Guide look like, with contributors from around the world? Could the community help the next visionary chef fundraise to open her own restaurant? What about pooling resources to support struggling long-standing family businesses? These are just initial ideas; the possibilities are limited only by the community's imagination.
Momofuku founder Dave Chang observed that in our current cultural climate, the gatekeepers and critics are behind the times. As examples, he cites the decline in popularity of the Oscars and the retail investor movement of r/wallstreetbets. Dave believes the future of “foodie” culture lies not in the hands of individual critics or institutions, but rather in a group of people who have good taste and opinion. The current taste discovery landscape is scattered across Yelp, Google reviews, institutional publications, Instagram food accounts, viral TikToks, and YouTube creators. Perhaps you or someone you know has said “I found this place on IG or TikTok” before. The intention of the Caféteria community is to aggregate the future of curated taste and opinion in order to expand the sincere appreciation of food and culture.
Food brings us together. Food is universal and global and personal and local. Food offers you a window into different cultures and personal histories. Similar to the best art, food can both respect tradition and break boundaries. Grant Achatz making edible apple balloons filled with helium at Alinea in Chicago. Saito-san serving a perfect piece of Otoro in Tokyo. Chintan Pandya and Roni Mazumdar introducing unapologetically Indian food and a whole rabbit to New Yorkers at Dhamaka. Lucas Sin rethinking and remixing what Chinese takeout food looks like in America.
The Caféteria community has 3 core principles.
- We share a common bond through appreciating food.
- We structurally benefit from being both diverse and inclusive.
- We strive to build a sustainable global food community financially supported by its members.
Food is exciting, dynamic, never dull.
We look forward to welcoming you into the Caféteria community.
The Caféteria Team