So You Want to Make It in the Food Industry?

Tips and tricks for budding careers, from one chef to another
celebrity chef
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celebrity chef

Creating a highly reputable restaurant with an outstanding menu and stellar atmosphere is always not enough in today’s restaurant business. Personalities figure prominently in a restaurant’s success. In many cases the chef has now become the focal point of the entire institution. The more a chef’s name becomes synonymous with a specific cuisine or degree of quality, the more people are attracted to that particular restaurant.

A chef’s use of social media is the key to success in personal branding and creating buzz. The use of Twitter, Facebook, feature articles, public profiles, and blogs allows you to grow your personal brand and contribute to your restaurant’s success. Your personality and image can attract customers and media attention, propelling your career as a chef.

Establishing Yourself as a Brand

In order to establish your professional brand, you must first compose a model that introduces your point of view and emphasizes your expertise in the culinary field. Through establishing legitimacy as an expert, your professional brand will add value to your restaurant’s brand as well. Everyone has a professional brand in today’s workplace. Your success depends on how well you develop yours by establishing yourself as an authority in your field.

The Entrepreneur vs. the Chef

Unlike a chef, an entrepreneur’s professional brand is built to add value to a specific company. As a chef, you are creating a brand in order to establish yourself as a public figure; you might be the sole reason why people come to your restaurant. You must have a high likability factor because, unlike an entrepreneur who can be shielded from the public eye, you must be front and center at your restaurant. Connecting with your customers will assist in creating a friendly atmosphere and promote word-of-mouth advertising. As a chef, you have to continue to refine your brand and adapt to the highly volatile conditions and fads of the culinary world.

Branding Yourself as a Chef

Your pedigree, education, and experience are keys to successfully branding yourself. While some customers might not be concerned about your culinary degree, they will take notice if you trained under a well-known chef. Your staging experience can also raise awareness of your brand.

As a chef, you have two roles to fulfill. Your public face includes interacting with your customers, writing articles on certain techniques, and attending conventions and festivals to boost your exposure. You must also deliver in the kitchen. You need to ensure that your restaurant is executing on a high level, using top-quality products, and creating that “wow” factor.

Setting Yourself Apart

You must work to form a unique brand and style. A chef’s knowledge of quality products is essential. Buying produce and meats from local organic farms and understanding the molecular composition of produce are popular and effective ways that a chef can shape a memorable dining experience.

For the most part, farmers and purveyors define you and your food. In the grand scheme of things, a chef will season the food and apply heat. The other 80 percent is defined by the product itself and the practices used by the purveyor. Quality food, prepared by a quality chef, leads to success.

The Trend of Innovation

Success also depends on quality collaboration. The age of stuffy, intimidating chefs is over. The new trend is encouraging innovation by sharing new ideas and techniques. Chefs may use each other as sounding boards. Communication between chefs has allowed for evolution in cuisine. Although the culinary world is still extremely competitive, the age of the Internet and social media has helped to level the playing field.

Twitter has become a great resource and direct line of communication between you and your colleagues. A chef’s ability to communicate in 140 characters or fewer has never been more vital. To be successful in and out of the kitchen, your ability to communicate is just as important online as in your restaurant.

Sharing Your Experiences

Food enthusiasts, line cooks, culinary students, and the like all look to leading chefs for inspiration and direction. The best way to give direction is to document experiences – and experiments – via Twitter and Facebook. From handpicking your produce to hosting your own dining events, you can share your experiences and connect with your audience. Always remember, you must communicate by being human, rather than just posing as a celebrity, to achieve a true connection with your patrons and audience.

Whether you’re trying to be the next big chef sensation or just refining your professional brand, you can harness your brand by using social media resources. Giving customers and colleagues a taste of your personality – and not just your food – will help your brand and your bottom line.