News Column

Social Media Site Promises to Be 'Facebook for Food.'

September 25, 2012

Steve Barnes

A new, locally developed social media website called ChefKey, launching Tuesday, promises to be "Facebook for food." Founder Laura Laz, who has a background in restaurants and created Culinary Celebrations, a Capital Region magazine that was published a few times between 2008 and 2010, describes ChefKey as a destination site for foodies, restaurateurs, staff and people in fields that serve the industry.

As a social media and networking site, Laz says, ChefKey will be a central place for conversations about food, recipes, photos, links to information including websites and food blogs, and a way for restaurants, chefs, caterers and other food businesses to promote their enterprises, connect with customers and offer discounts to ChefKey members.

As on Facebook, creating a profile is free for individuals and businesses, as is using the site. Revenue will come from advertising and optional, paid promotional features and opportunities that users may sign up for. As of Monday morning, about 3,000 people had signed up to be part of ChefKey when it goes live at noon Tuesday, Laz said.

She is projecting at least 50,000 members by the end of the year, with a local focus to be expanded to a national level as more people join. The early-signup feature has been disabled; people interested in becoming members may create profiles after noon Tuesday at the ChefKey website. A ChefKey app for mobile devices is due to be unveiled Tuesday as well, Laz says, and more site features will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

The kickoff will be celebrated with a reception from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Sperry's restaurant in Saratoga Springs. The event is free and open to the public.

Laz raised about $300,000 from private investors to fund the site. There are now three employees in its Colonie headquarters, with additional content development and technical work being handled by contractors, Laz says.

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Source: (c) 2012 Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) Distributed by MCT Information Services