Follow the Foodies – Hudson Valley One

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Ulster Eateries Unfiltered Creator Jason Bover at Half Moon Cafe Coffee & Donuts with owner Kaira Tiegan. (Photo by Zac Shaw)

He traveled everywhere to find the best food on the planet. It has supplied and supported restaurants in the Hudson Valley for decades. Now Jason Bover wants you to experience your dream food here in Ulster County.

He and a thriving community of foodie co-conspirators created Ulster Eateries Unfiltered, a fast-growing, free, public Facebook group with over 3,600 hungry members. It’s the only place you’ll find a fiercely local crowd having honest, uncensored (but well-moderated) dialogue about restaurants in our area. If you care about local food, you’re already a member, or you’re probably loading Facebook now to become one.

What makes Ulster Eateries Unfiltered a must? Bover’s passion for good food goes hand in hand with a long experience in the field. He built a real community beyond the hard core. What started as an online forum to promote and debate the best food in Ulster County has grown into an offline community of foodies, restaurateurs and casual diners voting for the best food in any given category. , then invading the winner’s establishment with hungry customers.

“Each month, I pick a topic,” Bover explained. “We made the best pizza, the best bagels, the best wings, the best sandwich, the best donuts…. We open the survey to everyone. Whoever wins that month, we visit him next month for the meet.

These get-togethers are more than a fun night of food worship. Restaurants are in trouble these days. Thirty customers packing a restaurant, celebrating the cuisine and posting about it on social media is a big boost to an establishment’s morale as well as its bottom line. And the love lasts, with many participants developing relationships with business owners, becoming regulars.

An exclusive donut

Recently, Bover’s ambition to boost the best in local dining has gone even further than its roster of hangouts, into inspiring and unique collaborations with local chefs and owners. “I’m contacting the survey winners and asking if there’s anything special they can do off the menu just for Ulster Eateries Unfiltered to try and find business,” he said.

Recently, he worked closely with the owners of Half Moon Cafe Coffee and Donuts in Kingston to produce a honey-peanut spiced donut, an exclusive for his monthly get-together.

“We have our next date at Urban Fork on June 29,” he continued. “I thought with the owner there. We offered a spicy pineapple sauce. I actually grow my own hot peppers and make my own hot sauce. So I combined my favorite hot sauce, which is a Trinidad Scorpion pineapple, and we mixed it with Urban Fork crack sauce. We are delighted for that.

Idolize Bourdain

Join the club. Literally. Anyone on Facebook can participate, no questions asked. Once you’ve seen the band’s luscious food photography and passionate reviews, it’s clear that Bover’s love for food is contagious and has deep roots.

Jason Bover with the legendary Anthony Bourdain. (Provided)

“I was raised as a child of an eccentric food and drink distributor,” he said, “making monthly trips to Canal Street and Arthur Avenue, in the back of the delivery van , back when car seats were optional Going to food trade shows across the country…fermented, pickled, aged or vegan – whatever your fancy, it was the norm.

Like many culinary aficionados, Bover grew up idolizing Anthony Bourdain, fantasizing about competing on Choppedand attend an inventive cuisine on iron boss and other Food Network shows.

“I started going to New York every month to find as many spots as I could, like I’ve seen my favorite chefs do on TV,” he said. “Once Bourdain showed me how travel can really open up my culinary experiences, I was hooked. I would frequently travel up to two hours just for lunch in New Jersey, Massachusetts or Connecticut. ‘ve traveled the Caribbean, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Colorado and along the east coast from Maine to Florida.

Negative Reviews

This is the kind of person you want to curate your food reviews and curate your local foodie community. Our region was lucky. It’s a long-standing local. The coronavirus lockdown has pushed Bover to increasingly focus on meals in his home county. He appreciated the sense of community that was quickly built when he met the owners of the restaurants in the area.

People primarily come to Ulster Eateries Unfiltered to post reviews of recent visits to restaurants in Ulster County, although Bover and his moderation team also post special offers and announcements of area establishments he promotes and supports freely. He has developed a cult following of several local restaurateurs and food retailers who bravely support his decision to tell it like it is and allow others to do so.

Negative restaurant reviews can be a tricky subject. Yelp reviews are often considered to have an outsized impact on a restaurant’s bottom line. Fortunately, more and more consumers are savvy enough to recognize the absurdity of Yelpers being allowed to complain that their unrealistic expectations aren’t being met, fracturing their delicate egos.

Still, undisclosed paid reviews (or, conversely, vindictive personal grudge reviews) are muddy on Yelp and other sites. Bover sees the reviews disappearing anyway, with the community and social media buzz of the moment increasingly becoming the deciding factor in the decision to eat.

Under the spell of this paranoia of negative reviews, other Facebook groups have been known to delete and ban any reviews. Some even post sponsored reviews without disclosing that they are paid and require expensive club memberships as a prerequisite. for an opinion.

Bover started his band partly in response to this forgery. “Some of my early supporters and restaurants messaged me and were really grateful for what I do. They all say one honest review is worth way more than five fake reviews,” he said. the restaurant industry, you have to earn respect and pay your dues.”

Know the details

He developed his views.

“You have to wash the dishes before you cut the carrots,” he said. “You have to cut the carrots before you cook the entrees. You progress and everyone respects you. Restaurants must pay their dues. They have to work hard over the long term to earn a reputation that precedes themselves. You can’t just buy positive comments and reviews and expect it to last. People will come in and say, “That’s not what I read online.” When there is a mismatch between their reputation and what they actually offer is when a restaurant slowly declines.

Jason Bover shows his collaboration with Half Moon Cafe Coffee & Donuts, a crispy peanut honey spiced donut. (Photo by Zac Shaw)

According to him, the thirst for authenticity is linked to the thirst for a sense of community.

“Local businesses are going through a tough time and they want exposure and publicity,” he explained. “They want the real foodies. We’re more focused in terms of people who really care about food. In some of the other groups, people just want to see a menu and have pizza on a Friday night. Many of our employees want to know, ‘Is the pizza crispy or is it soft? Are the fries fried or not? Is the chicken organic? Does the fish come from the Hudson River? We want to know all the details.

Bover is sensitive to the needs of local restaurants due to its wealth of experience in the field. “By delivering to the back of hundreds of small cafes and restaurants throughout the Hudson Valley, I’ve been able to predict whether a restaurant will stay in business a year or two in advance,” he said. . “If you’re not oiled enough to order in a timely manner and you don’t have money in the ledger when the delivery arrives and then you take weeks to pay… If I call to ask a check and none of the employees have any idea what I’m talking about or where the owner is, that’s a red flag from a mile away.

Such an unfortunate scenario is unfortunately on the rise. Inflation, supply chain issues, a housing crisis and a labor crisis are among the contributing factors.

just started

Bover sees Ulster Eateries Unfiltered as a way to boost top local restaurants without shooting those who may be overrated.

In the end, it depends on the quality of the food.

“The only good thing New York hipsters have given us is high quality food,” he observed. “Now you have to use the freshest local organic ingredients from around the world. That’s what we expect. And if you don’t meet those expectations, you fail.

What’s next for Bover and Ulster Eateries Unfiltered? More meetings and more collaborations, that’s for sure. It feels like Bover is just getting started. He begins to develop a consulting business for restaurants, offering 360-degree expertise, from social media and content marketing to menu planning and reputation management.

Bover is no stranger to running his own business. His husband-and-wife wedding photography operation Above Photography has served as a springboard for commercial ventures in the restaurant business.

And at least for now, it remains real, and there is a growing community of people who are grateful. Are there occasional kerfuffles involving negative reviews dropped by people with an ax to grind? Certainly. Bover handles them with aplomb, engaging with all sides. He strictly enforces the rules of moderation to excise anyone who oversteps the bounds of decency.

Ulster Eateries Unfilitered is an inspiring driver of connectivity in our wider community. As locals already know and newcomers are beginning to learn, money can’t buy a sense of community. It takes openness, honesty and respect. Ulster Eateries Unfiltered strives to deliver these features daily.

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