Food bloggers are a dime a dozen these days. It's hard to turn a corner without running into one. Pei Wei Asian Diner, a fast-casual concept by P.F. Chang's China Bistro, just added one more to the mix. And it's going to drag her around all of Asia just to make sure that you don't associate "fast-casual" with "inauthentic."
After a 10-week national search and more than 500 applicants, Pei Wei has chosen 27-year-old Alice Shin to travel with executive chef Eric Justice and chef Mark Miller on an 18-day culinary tour across Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea in search of inspiration for new Pei Wei dishes.
Here's the video that was part of her entry:
Her new temporary job? To blog about the experience, documenting local food and culture on BlogAsia, Pei Wei's blog. She will also receive $10,000.
Her full-time day job? She's a senior copywriter at SapientNitro in Miami. So we know she can write -- which can't be said for a few too many food bloggers. (The marketer's ad agency is Vitro in San Diego.)
Mr. Justice regularly travels to Asia for culinary ideas, but this marks the first time a Pei Wei fan and blogger will travel along and blog the experience.
"The intent of BlogAsia is to give our guests a deeper understanding of culture, ingredients and flavors they are enjoying through the current dishes on our menu as well as allow them an inside perspective on our regular process of traveling Asia to find our inspiration for future menu innovation and feature dishes," said Terry Haley, VP-marketing for Pei Wei Asian Diner in an email.
"What's been especially interesting for me throughout the process is seeing how social media promotions are played out from a contestant's point of view," said Ms. Shin in an email. "I'm a senior copywriter at SapientNitro and a lot of my time is spent concepting on major clients' social media campaigns. So, having the tables turned and being on the other end of the proverbial whiteboard has been interesting, to say the least." (Editor's note: Ms. Shin, I beg you to never, ever to use "concepting" outside the halls of SapientNitro as it is not an actual word.)
As for how this fits into Pei Wei's overall marketing efforts, Mr. Haley said that the blog epitomizes the Pei Wei brand. "As a chain restaurant, claiming authenticity, at any level, is often met with resistance, but with BlogAsia we are letting guests into our process to show them how what they are eating links back to traditional and modern cuisine across Asia; hopefully increasing their understanding and overall enjoyment of what they are eating at Pei Wei. "