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App reveals chefs' favorite hot spots

By Natasha Baker

TORONTO (Reuters) - Where do top-rated chefs, sommeliers and bartenders hang out during their time off? A new app uncovers their favorite restaurants, bars and shops in cities around the world, from high-end eateries to dive bars.

The app, Find. Eat. Drink., for iPhones provides recommendations from industry experts. It includes suggestions from Fergus Henderson, the English chef who popularized nose-to-tail dining and the Roca brothers, who run El Celler de Can Roca in Spain, which Restaurant magazine dubbed the second-best eatery in the world.

"The idea was to reach out to people within the culinary community that were doing interesting and unique work, and who were passionate about what they do," said Robin Dorian, co-founder of Find. Eat. Drink., who is based in New York.

Chef Richard Blais, of television's "Top Chef" and "Blais Off," recommends a rotisserie chicken restaurant in a strip mall in Atlanta, and Floyd Cardoz, winner of "Top Chef Masters" Season 3, gives the thumbs up for a dosa restaurant in New York.

"You eat out of Styrofoam, but the food is incredibly delicious," he said in his recommendation for the Dosa Hutt.

Suggestions are made based on the user's location and can be viewed on a map. They are also filtered by price and user ratings.

The app can be used to research a city before setting off and to collect venues by creating customized lists within the app. It includes recommendations for more than 2,000 establishments in 120 cities around the world.

"If you go, for instance, to Chinatown in New York, there's all these places, so it kind of takes that guesswork out and makes it easy to go off the beaten track," Dorian explained.

Dorian got the idea for the company from an experience she had as a Food Network television producer and host. After a day of filming, a chef took her to a restaurant in New York, and she was amazed by the number of chefs she spotted there who were customers.

"I was wondering, ‘How come all the chefs know to go here?'" she said.

In addition to restaurants and bars, there are also recommendations for Asian grocers and wine, cheese, candy and salt shops.

"It's about checking out places that inspire them - more interesting, ethnic unique places. That's how they eat and how they travel," she said.

Reservations can also be made at select restaurants from the app, which is available worldwide.

A similar app for iPhones called Chefs Feed provides a visual way of scanning photos of restaurant dishes recommended by top chefs.

The app has more than 600 chefs recommending dishes through the app, including Napa's Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se, Los Angeles' Wolfgang Puck of Spago and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, and New York's Mario Batali of Babbo and Lupa.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Jan Paschal)

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