Reverse engineering the food in front of you

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While many of us in the west love Asian food most of us have no idea how to cook it for ourselves – past a simple stir-fry that is. In Sweden, however, a leading supplier of oriental food has come up with a clever way of helping people keen to give it a try.
Instagram: Ask CT Food is a new service people can use through Instagram to find out the ingredients and methods of cooking Asian food. If you’re at a restaurant and want to know how to make the Sushi that you’re about to eat, you can take a photo of the dish and CT Food will tell you how. Luong Lu, who, along with co-creative Farnaz Sajadi and web developer Nikola Romcevic, created this concept for CT Food, says, “It is a very personal, almost 24/7 customer service right in your pocket. Everytime you have a question about an Asian dish at a restaurant you just snap a picture and then put in our username @askctfood. We will then see the picture and, based on what the question is, reply as quickly as possible.”
Experts: The service is completely free with a team of specialists ready to answer any questions. Lu says, “If you have a weird ingredient that you’ve never seen before, you can take a picture and ask us what you want to know about it. We have between 6 to 7 experts who will reply to your question, giving ingredients or recipes.”
Many ingredients can appear unusual to a westerner and CT Food makes sure these are carefully listed in their responses. “At Instagram, you can find the most popular 500 products and each product has its unique hashtag so when we reply with the recipe, you’ll also get this unique hashtag which tells you exactly what products you need for a specific dish.”
Breaking down barriers: This concept was developed upon realising that while Swedes love to eat south-east Asian food, they were apprehensive about making it for themselves.
“The Asian shops are actually much more focused on the Asian people than the general public so we want to crash this barrier and create a service where you don’t feel intimidated, you just go in there, show the picture and say, ‘I need this, this and this’ and the cashier or service person will locate it for you.”
Lu concludes, “What we’ve done is take customer service and put it into a very relevant medium.” Indeed, it is a clever piece of marketing that will raise the awareness of CT Food at the same time as making the Swedes more au fait with the ingredients and recipes behind the food they already love to eat. With luck, this type of social-media based customer service will be appropriated by food suppliers across Europe for all manner of exotic cooking.