Taranta’s Chef Jose Duarte Experiments With Quick Response Codes

Chef Jose Duarte, Taranta

Taranta cooks up tasty ideas for scanning code.

If you see a small black-and-white, maze-like square on a table runner at Taranta in Boston’s North End, don’t think a gourmet graffiti artist found a new place to leave his tag.
Chef Jose Duarte is experimenting with “Quick Response” codes — the latest mobile-technology marketing tool that’s increasingly showing up in ads, magazines and other media.
Smartphone users can scan the encoded, 2-D bar codes and be automatically connected to a Web site, or see a text message or phone number appear.
Duarte — who already has Taranta T-shirts with QR codes — plans to incorporate them in a number of other ways at his restaurant, in demos that he leads, and possibly fund-raisers.
He’s ordered business cards with QR codes that will link to Taranta’s Web site. And, at the Fairmont Copley Plaza’s Celebrity Chefs Culinary Program on Saturday, he used edible squid ink to screen-print a plate with a QR code. The code linked to a Taranta Web page listing the ingredients and recipes for the dishes that he prepared. But not all onlookers immediately grasped the technology.
“I had to repeat myself three times: ‘Scan this code with your (smartphone), and you will have the recipes,’ ” Duarte said. “But I think things are going to change and, probably in a year, 80 percent of the people will know what it is.”
But though Duarte sees QR codes as an eco-friendly, revolutionary way to share information with customers, don’t expect to see them on plates at Taranta on a regular basis.
“I don’t want people to be using cell phones when they’re having dinner,” he said. “I’m against it. I see couples come in, and they sit down and each of them are using their cell phones.”
Duarte is considering putting QR codes on diners’ checks to prompt them to fill out service surveys for a chance to win a free dinner. He also envisions passing out coded cards at festivals that send text messages with a promotional code for discounts.

Photo by Angela Rowlings
Japanese car-electronics maker Denso Corp. is credited with developing the first QR code in 1994 as an inventory tool for Toyota auto factories.
Duarte, meanwhile, has been waiting for the technology to catch on stateside after seeing Japanese chef Seiji Yamamoto using it at the Madrid Fusion restaurant summit in Spain five years ago.
By Donna Goodison  |   Wednesday, January 19, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Business & Markets