5 Questions With: Steve Mangano, the founder of CurEat

Steve Mangano founded a food app for sharing positive reviews and recommendations—now he’s on to the next fun thing.
As told to Catherine Currin

When we heard Steve Mangano was hosting a pig pickin’ at Transfer Co. Food Hall, we had to know more. He’s the founder of CurEat, an app that allows users to create lists of their favorite restaurants and share with friends and family. Mangano launched CurEat in hopes of keeping restaurant recommendations positive, listing likes versus dislikes. The pig pickin’ is part of a scavenger hunt that Mangano organized for March 30 to engage ‘CurEaters’ in the community. He’s also giving back, as proceeds will benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Read on to learn more.

Steve Mangano / photo by Jessica Crawford

How would you describe CurEat to someone who has never heard of it before?
CurEat is a discovery tool. We want to help people cut through the clutter to find great restaurants, bars, culinary talent and experiences. Ultimately, we are advocates for independent restaurants and continue to shine a light on the great work they do. We believe (and know) that their work is hard, and we want to create a positive community to highlight and discuss what people love instead of spending time talking about what they don’t like.

CurEat has hosted some smaller events and been a participant in others. What prompted this large scale event?
We have had a desire to lead our own event but did not want to do it in a traditional sense. Most events ask chefs/restaurants to cook, pack-up and lug items to a different venue. This is a lot of extra work and doesn’t always lead people to a chef’s restaurant. With the scavenger hunt, we wanted to flip the traditional event on its head and provide a fun way for our users to engage with the app and interesting brands. This enables users to actually see the settings of places our CurEaters love, while reducing the workload for the restaurants. Like everything else we do, it’s a win-win!

It has been great to partner with Paul Tourto and the Assembly team on design and creative aspects of the event as well as be able to have the support of 21C, S. Pellegrino, Transfer Co. and Stem Cider. We knew we would have limited capacity with the Scavenger Hunt itself, so we wanted to be able to provide an opportunity to engage more people through the after party. Plus, we’re able to highlight another amazing food venue and our CurEater Sam Jones.

Photo by Sara D. Davis for IFFS

Why was a charity component important to you? Why Inter-Faith Food Shuttle?
It’s core to what we do. We are about building community and finding ways to continue to connect organizations and people doing great work. If our CurEat community can have fun and raise money for a charity, we thought.. well hey…that’s awesome. I’ve been a long time supporter of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and the work they do. When I founded Pullen Place, we worked closely with the IFFS on job training and were a resource for many of the IFFS graduates. We also worked with their farm program to use local produce.

photo by Sara D. Davis

Why did Transfer Co. stand out as the spot for the event’s after party? What do you hope guests to gain and experience from this event?
We are big fans of Transfer Co. Food Hall, and Nick Neptune has been involved in some of the early planning of the event. We loved the chance to bring more people to the space and engage with it in a fun and festive way. We hope the guests have fun, eat some great Eastern NC BBQ from award-winning NC pitmaster Sam Jones and discover some great beverage. Our goal is to just celebrate community and culinary community.

Sam Jones / photo by Baxter Miller

What can we expect next or in the future from CurEat?
Well…we are working on a regular series of small events and possibly another larger event in the fall. We are also hard at work on some significant updates to the app itself that will enable some photo sharing and other new features. These are things our users have requested and we are excited to be rolling them out in the coming months.

You can buy tickets to the party at Transfer Co. here. Ticket includes two drink tickets as well as food from Sam Jones BBQ, Longleaf Swine, Happy and Hale and Locals Seafood.