The Instagram takeover - is it the modern chef's version of a cook book?

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st January 2016
We live in a time when people feel the need to share every tiny detail of their lives not just with friends and family, but with anyone who can relate to their experience – and when it comes to that, food is no exception. In what has been dubbed as an “obsession”, pictures of food make up a big part of social media, and especially on Instagram, where more than 200 million pictures with the hashtag #food or #foodporn can be found. It should come as no surprise then that more and more chefs are getting on there to promote their establishments and, of course, themselves. Cary Docherty low resCary Docherty, head chef at Little Social in London, is one of them. He said: “The primary use of Instagram for me is to show to a wider audience what we’re doing at Little Social. I find it’s a good way to reach out to and interact with people who we wouldn’t normally come across.” Instagram is, in fact, a great way to expand your network, being the fastest growing social media platform with more than 400 million monthly users  and attracting 20% of all global Internet users - most of them young people, looking to try out something new and exciting (just like the wasabi and avocado purée offered in Cary’s restaurant). “It’s my favourite social media right now,” Cary said. “Everything I post on Instagram I link to Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram has been my primary source of social media for the past year or so. I just like the picture format and how it allows you to get your point across.” Dan Doherty, who is executive chef at Duck & Waffle, is also a big fan of the way Instagram works. “There is the saying that a picture can say a thousand words - and I do believe in that,” he explained. “It’s less about the words that you’re writing and more about what you’re taking a photo of." >>> Follow The Staff Canteen on Instagram here “But the content side of it is important as well. The picture alone is not enough, you do need some kind of narrative there,” Dan added, saying that he finds Twitter restrictive because of its limit of characters in a single post. Indeed, Instagram is very user-friendly, and it makes it easy to connect to other platforms and dan doherty instaexternal pages, unlike other sites like YouTube, for example, where all the content revolves around the platform itself. In addition, research has shown that people on Instagram engage with posts up to five times more, compared to other social media, which makes it especially handy for product branding.  All of this almost makes Instagram look as if it were designed specifically for marketing purposes. It’s not just about advertising and sales for some, though. “I don’t use it to promote anything,” said Dan. “I use it to share the journey of my food with people. I think if you do it the right way, it promotes you by default.” However, having more than 26, 000 followers, he admits he pays attention to who they are and what they are interested in seeing. He said: “They’re following me mainly because of the food. If I was to put up a holiday picture, no one’s interested in that, so I think I have subconsciously gone away from doing it.” He also believes in the importance of the appearance of a dish. “You can’t help but look at what you’re buying. Would anyone buy a jumper without caring what it looks like?” But he added: “Of course food needs to have flavour as well – if it doesn’t, then you’re going to fail.” Kate Malcolm – head pastry chef at Babylon at The Roof Gardens – shared the same opinion in a previous interview with The Staff Canteen, saying people expect a “wow factor” when it comes to desserts. “But for me if it tastes like sawdust then it still tastes like sawdust, no matter how good it looks,” she said. Daniel Galmiche 2 low resNot all chefs are convinced by Insagram, like Daniel Galmiche, who is a Michelin-starred chef now at the Vineyard in Berkshire. “I know Instagram is becoming a big thing nowadays, but it’s just not my cup of tea,” he said. “I don’t quite like systematically taking pictures and sharing them, although my staff do it. "When I make a new dish, I don’t like to share a picture of it straight away, before I’ve got the feedback of the customer.” “I don’t like to show off,” Galmiche added. “I understand wanting to promote yourself, but some people are posting all the time – it makes me wonder if that’s all they do.” He is also concerned that some customers are missing the experience, because of being too engaged with taking the perfect photo, forgetting about the food and leaving it to go cold. “I like it that they take pictures because they think the dish is pretty – that’s great! But they have to enjoy it as well,” Galmiche said. “I sometimes even go to the tables myself and say ‘make sure you have it while it’s warm'." Michel Roux Jr, head chef of the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche in Mayfair, also thinks people’sDaniel Doherty low res obsession with food-snapping shows they’ve got poor manners. “It should be flattering, but it annoys me when I see people taking photos of their food,” he told The Daily Mail last year. “It’s disruptive for the people around them and it spoils that person’s enjoyment of the meal.” Despite being very prolific on Instagram, both Cary and Dan insist social media does not influence their cooking techniques. “It’s meant to be used to share what you’re doing. If the thought of sharing is defining what you’re doing, I think that’s a bit backwards,” Dan says. “This is where social media has gone too far.” “At the end of the day, people will judge the food on how it tastes,” adds Cary. “If it looks fake and tastes poor, you’re not going to have people coming back to the restaurant. Flavour is all that’s paramount, there’s nothing more important than flavour.” By Stefani Tasheva  
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st January 2016

The Instagram takeover - is it the modern chef's version of a cook book?