Welcome to a different take on cooking. Welcome to the #DataDrivenChef.
I am Jeff Zeanah, the founder, and creator of Zous Chef. After a 30+ year career in analytics consulting and teaching and simultaneously having a passion for all things related to cooking, this is an effort to combine these two efforts.
The advent of social media and the internet, combined with the continued production of fine cookbooks, gives a cook an unprecedented amount of data. This presents a situation I faced many times in my consulting career. Consumers of this data think, “Wow this is great. I have so much information.” The reality is something different.
Yes, there is a lot of data, but getting information requires work; requires patience; requires asking good questions. In short, it requires analytics and the tools of analytics.
I have a degree in Industrial Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. This led to a 30+ year career in analytical consulting covering a vast range of topics.
I developed and taught two popular courses through the SAS Institute’s Business Knowledge Series program: Explaining Analytics to Decision Makers and Exploratory Analysis for Large and Complex Problems along with a blog about analytics. My consulting work involved nutrition, electric transformers, fraud detection, marketing, and even stars.
The term analytics is used extensively in many fields and perhaps could be considered to mean many different things. But to me, it consists of two activities. Find the pattern and find the variations from the pattern.
In applying that definition to cooking I look at many recipes — sometimes 100 or more. I use web-scraping, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and graphical analysis as needed. I am looking for the pattern and the variation. The pattern is the basics of the majority of recipes on a topic. The variation is what we may be looking for. It can be considered a bit of creativity that makes the recipe better or customized to fit a specific ingredient or need. Sometimes that is exactly what is needed.
I always believed analytics has a very specific role. It provides specificity to the discussion. General descriptions are replaced with details. Greater dimensions of a problem can be investigated. In a business setting, the hope is these more specific discussions lead to better decisions. In culinary efforts, using data to increase clarity in how and what people cook leads to a better understanding to apply in our efforts — both in ingredients and instruction. The result? Making you a better cook.
On one level users want a recipe. Maybe right now, for tonight. That desire needs to be met.
On another level, one needs to learn how to cook. How to cook with what is in front of them. The best regional produce at their market or store is going to give them their best dish tonight. To meet that need I give a discussion of key techniques and ingredients along with the recipe for the user to learn about the patterns and variations of cooking.
As part of the effort of the classes mentioned above, I wrote a blog about analytics. In an interview with the Why I Network, I go into greater depth into my background and my desires for this site.
As the son of a home economics teacher, I had the opportunity to serve as an apprentice in the writing of her guide to cooking, If You Want to Separate Some Eggs.
Lastly, I am Southern. I grew up with Southern cooking. This cooking was not the stereotype of Southern cooking. It was healthy and fresh. Much of our food came from markets and close to the farm. Some of the food was homegrown. It was simply prepared allowing the taste of the ingredients to shine. I endeavor to share that experience.
When traveling I have seen the same in Europe, Australia, and Asia. Food that reflects where you are.
Featured By Publishers
Additional thoughts, insights, and details on my blending of Analytics and cooking along with inspirations from travel have been shared with other publishers.
How to steer clear of tourist traps in European Destinations — look for nature.
You may want to be a freelancer to follow your passion, but you will not be successful unless you can sell yourself.
What is the Easiest, Best Thing to Grow in a Garden? Holy basil — it is easy to grow; it is a beautiful plant with purplish flowers; and it is a great culinary herb.
How Does One Become a Guru? — Write a class and start teaching it.
Healthy Meal Prep on a budget — Market Vegetable Stock
Can I use one of your photos?
Sure! You are welcome to republish a photo on your website/blog/newsletter – please link it back to the recipe or blog post you pulled it from.