During the pandemic, our family – like many others – started cooking. We perfected chocolate chip cookies and buñuelos. We also ordered takeout from restaurants we’d never tried before. Food was an escape during quarantine, and it brought us closer as a family.

At the same time, we missed our friends. That was especially true for the teenagers in our family (Sophia was 15 through most of the pandemic). Mainstream social media was the go-to place to turn for many members of Gen Z, but instead of providing a few minutes of fun connection with friends, social media had become exhausting.

With everything going on, turning to Instagram at the end of the day was – and is — no longer about following friends and glimpsing into their lives, but presents users with a flurry of problems that need to be solved. Gen Z, particularly, bears a heavy burden, and social media teems with challenges, from climate change to social injustice. Thankfully, social media can provide a platform for activism. 

But everyone needs a break sometimes. 

And food can provide that escape, and that channel to reconnect. So we decided to break social media down into a single vertical. The idea for Recon Food was born — a vertical social media app that brings people together through a shared love of food. Recon Food lets users either take photos of their creations or restaurant dishes to share, or the app can search a user’s camera roll for past pictures of food (a fun stroll down memory lane).

Other categories of social media already have vertical-specific platforms, such as Strava for exercise and AllTrails for hiking. Food is a huge category that deserves a dedicated social app for itself. 

We hope Recon Food will appeal to everyone from Michelin starred chefs to people like us – amateur home cooks who are eager to try new things, and who want to see what their friends are trying. And we hope it’s a welcome respite from the stress-inducing horizontal social apps.

We’ve been using Recon Food in beta for a couple of months – along with friends and family – and the patterns emerging are positive. First, people are much less stressed out about what they should post. On a horizontal social media app, like Instagram, you’re likely to see only curated, perfect pictures (of both people and food). But on Recon, you might see our oblong first attempt at wood-fired pizza (one of the most commented-on posts so far).

Even better, when Spencer so profoundly messed up that first pizza, our friends gave us lots of tips about how to do better next time. We see that a lot – people sharing links to great recipes, or saying, “That happened to me, too. Try not to knead the dough as much next time.”

There’s no pressure to be perfect. The fails, the weird (like the five-square-foot pizza Sophia’s school ordered on its last day), and the meal you forgot to take a picture of before that first bite are all at home on Recon Food. Just like a bad run on Strava will garner support and tips from your friends, Recon Food users seem to be out to help each other.

We’re especially excited to be launching Recon Foods as many of our old favorite restaurants fully reopen, and as many new ones join the scene. It’s been an impossible year for that industry, and if Recon Food can be a positive place to discover a great place or for a chef to showcase her newest dish, we’ll feel like Recon Food is serving its best purpose.

Recon Food can be downloaded for free in the App Store and is available on desktop at https://getrecon.app/


  • Spencer Rascoff is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso, Supernova and, now, Recon Food. He served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 75 companies and is incubating several more. Spencer has become a modest expert at making chocolate chip cookies during the pandemic.
  • Sophia Rascoff is co-founder and CEO of Recon Food, the vertical social media app where people can reconnect over a shared love of food.  Sophia is a junior at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, where she is a leader in the entrepreneurship and creative problem-solving organization; a leader in the Latin American/Hispanic Student Organization; a recipient of the presidential volunteer service award.  She is the oldest of three, and enjoys cooking at home with her dad, running track and cross country and playing and teaching chess.