Ben Leventhal Dishes On Feast, His New NBC Venture Looking To Rise To The Top Of The Restaurant Blogosphere Food Chain

by BILLY GRAY · March 11, 2010

Ben Leventhal is the founder of Eater, one of New York's most eligible bachelors and a mechanic bull enthusiast. Now he's partnered up with NBC for Feast, a nifty new venture looking to rise to the top of the restaurant blogosphere food chain. We thought it was about time to check in with the guy...

The internet is bursting with food websites and blogs. What convinced you that the crowded field needed a new entry like Feast?

One of the goals we established early on was to build upon and make easier to consume the vast online food space. The internet is, indeed, bursting, as you said, but with the right signposts and mapping, there's an incredible amount of great content to consume.

Feast Rank is kind of like a Rotten Tomatoes for restaurants. Can you fill us in on how the ratings are determined, particularly considering the huge field of professional and amateur critics out there?

We take many, many sources into account, amateur and professional both. Our algorithm will evolve to ensure that it represents accurately and distinctly the landscape of the web and the way people use their digital spaces to access and consume restaurant information.

Do you anticipate a lot of complaints from restaurateurs who see a negative score in bold type right next to their restaurant?

Restaurateurs see their restaurants like parents see their kids: no one wants to hear their kid is dicey. But the Feast Rank is accurate and gets smarter and more comprehensive every day. It's also important to recognize that the scores are all relative. A 50 might not seem good, but if you're a pizza joint and you see that pizza restaurants average a 30, your place at 50 is looking pretty epic.

Do you and the other Feast writers get a lot of edible bribes (comped meals, surprise deliveries, fawning service) from restaurateurs trying to curry favor?

Not nearly enough. But, this is NBC. I think restaurateurs know better.

Feast visitors can map out and share their own eating itineraries. What would your itinerary list as the perfect, can't-miss dinner spot in NYC?

Right now and always, my standbys are Gramercy Tavern, Baltahzar, the Momofukus and Spotted Pig; plus, I really love the Tap Room (up front) at Colicchio and Sons right now, too. It's probably inevitable that Pulino's will hit the heavy rotation as soon as it opens, too. And it's not exactly a standby, but I keep getting pulled back, willingly, to Marea. Here, I made you a list: