The restaurant world is extremely competitive. Closures are announced in London on a weekly basis, casual dining is in decline, and all against a backdrop of growing consumer interest in, and commitment to, better food sourcing, cooking and eating.
This emergence of consumer knowledge has created a generation of ‘foodies’ who crave new information, new experiences and new flavours. In a rapidly expanding ‘foodscape’ there are always fresh offerings, enticing smells, exotic ingredients and a plethora of chefs trying to stand out. So, how do some of the best of our generation stay on top? Huge teams of development chefs and dedicated kitchens, recognition from global institutions like Michelin and genuinely innovative thinking all play their part, but so too does social media.
As with everything else, social is an integral part of running a business, especially one that is consumer facing, and relies of the delight of the senses to garner interest and footfall. Many of the great chefs of the last decade have maximised this tool, telling their story in an authentic and personable way, taking us on their journeys around the world, through their menu development and behind the scenes of their everyday lives. For an audience captivated by food, culture and exploration, this is the perfect window into so many restaurants and experiences that most can never indulge in person.
Instagram is of course best placed for such a venture. Relying heavily on aesthetic, and an inherently hand-held insight into the individual, it offers an ideal front row seat into the mind of a chef. Perhaps one of the best known, and most critically acclaimed, experimental chefs of this latest wave is Rene Redzepi. Chef and co-founder of Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, his menu is famed for it wide-reaching and innovative use of local ingredients and methods. He has amassed a large social following, 669K, who are so dedicated and intrigued by his descriptions and articulation of flavours, that a seemingly innocuous picture of some strawberries has nearly 40K likes. Rene uses Instagram Stories to tour the country, and the world, and take us all with him. It is here where he really shines, showing an expertise and playful curiosity that is addictive. So much so that Noma’s venture to Mexico last year became a nearly tangible exploration of the countries most interesting, and often obscure, delicacies.
Bringing it back down to earth a little, there are those chefs whose Instagram is used to convey to the practicalities and comfort that good food, and good cooking, can bring to people. Yotam Ottolenghi is nothing short of a sensation in London; sometimes credited with bringing the Middle Eastern cuisine to the masses (a slightly dubious albeit flattering claim), he is as popular as a columnist as he is a chef. With cafes across London, and restaurants Nopi and Rovi offering a more refined experience, he provides something for the whole family. This is reflected in the beautiful yet homely style of his Instagram, showcasing recipes designed for everything from picnics and packed lunches, to dinner with the in-laws. Ottolenghi’s Instagram is less likely to grow a major global following, but it does create a dedicated fan-base of consumers who regularly buy his brand, sing his praises and recreate it at home with #ICookedOttolenghi.
Not all chefs use Instagram for their work however, many they use it just as we do. A way to share their daily life, routine and the occasional snack. But when this is a day in the life of Christina Tosi, everything is a little sweeter. Christina is the founder and brains behind Milk Bar, a Momofuku dessert venture that took the US by storm. Her recipes are sugary, delicious and absolutely loaded with all the stuff you should probably only allow yourself once in a blue moon. But what Christina’s Instagram adds into the mix is a playfulness and youth that you see reflected in so much of her work. Towers of truffles and raw cookie dough litter her feed, intertwined with family adventures and arduous recipe testing (joke, we’re totally jealous).
She uses Instagram to really bring her brand to life, demonstrating that it is so much more than just a brand, but truly an extension of herself and her personality. Milk Bar has no trouble attracting attention or visitors but having this presence on Instagram makes those of us trying to join in at home feel a certain affinity with her, and a greater understanding for where her recipes come from.
This is the power of social media for chefs, to intrigue, inspire and instil a sense of familiarity. All things that are instrumental to growing and maintaining the influence of your brand, especially in a crowded marketplace such as this, where a well-constructed key lime pie could steal your spotlight at any minute.
Are you a chef or an owner of a restaurant who could benefit from a serving of our social media services? Why not get in touch with a member of our award-winning team today.