Chefs becoming a brand: Is it a good thing?

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th August 2014
By Rebecca Smith So you’re flicking through television programmes and you come across one… no, two… no, three or more programmes on food and the culinary industry? You catch up on the news and find another campaign for healthy eating. You look through a magazine, and they’re there too.Gordon ramsay It seems more and more chefs are entering the media in the forms of television programmes, media campaigns, and competitions. No more are chefs restricted to the realms of the kitchen, and instead they have the opportunity to make a name for themselves. With the rise in celebrity chefs, the question we are asking is…are chefs becoming a brand? Media is more accessible now than ever before with the growing number of smart phones and tablets. You can watch your favourite programmes wherever and whenever you like. Having acknowledged the power media holds, it is no wonder that we are seeing more chefs getting in on the trade. It appears that the new method of promoting their business is to make themselves culinary celebrities. It is true that some chefs are born out of the media. The appearance of upcoming stars in competitive programmes like MasterChef has launched great careers out of many either looking to get into the industry or simply for those looking to get up the culinary ladder. Steven Edwards, for example, after winning MasterChef: The Professionals in 2013, had received a Steven Edwardsnumber of career opportunities after being on the show. His time on the show generated his high profile and gained the image he needed in the culinary industry as a winning Head Chef to develop The Camellia. By profiling themselves on adverts and television programmes are chefs knowingly branding themselves for better business? Are their continuous appearances only serving to further expand and popularise their profile and company? We can already compare the fact that we know more celebrity restaurants such as Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck better than the less known, yet also top rated, restaurants. Look at popular food guides and you will notice that the top lists consist of restaurants owned by famous chefs. With a recognisable presence people are more likely to know who you are, what restaurant you own, and what food you’re serving. And the more people know of you, the more people will come to your restaurant(s). It would be deemed a success no matter the quality. But is this success earned? When we think of the top Michelin star chefs we realise that ninety percent of the leading professionals have, at one point in time, ventured into the media industry.heston Is Gordon Ramsay losing two of his Michelin stars surely some indication that he has become more a celebrity than a Michelin starred chef? From the estimated 44 restaurants he owns around the world many in his expanding business appear to have flagged considerably during his involvement in television. Is this focus on his image as a celebrity chef meaning that his business in the kitchen is floundering? The same could be said for a lot of chefs that have chosen the same precarious path. Recognisable names such as Marco Pierre White, famous for promoting brands such as Knorr, had his Birmingham Restaurant score a zero in the Hygiene Inspection late March 2014. Around a similar time, Jamie Oliver’s famed Butcher Shop in London had to close temporarily after hygiene inspectors found mouse droppings, mould growing on carcasses, and not to mention food that had gone out of date. Restaurant Wars: The Battle For Manchester credit to Photographer: Shaw and ShawAre these incidents a result of these ‘celebrities’ having too much on their plate? Do they have the time to oversee all their restaurants if they are promoting their image in the media? Whilst becoming a brand is ultimately a good thing, it becomes, instead, a vicious cycle of wanting to promote a business but not having the time to manage it. Their goal to get their business recognised and bring in more customers seems to be successful but is there a price to pay for that kind of popularity? Especially if the quality of these restaurants appear to be dropping. Instead of keeping their profile as a professional chef in the kitchen are they becoming mere ambassadors for their brands? So should chefs go back to the kitchen? Or should they take the opportunity to make a name for themselves and risk the quality they are dishing out?

Let us know what you think.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th August 2014

Chefs becoming a brand: Is it a good thing?