Social Media for chefs: what are the pros and cons?

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen takes a look at how chefs use social media and the positive and negative impact it can have.

Nowadays, pretty much everyone is hooked on social media, whether it is for personal or professional use.

So there is no doubt that chefs are also keen to be active on social media in an attempt to get their name out there. Twitter and Instagram are the most popular sites among chefs, where they can spread their message, develop and expand their businesses, as well as a way of getting across what they like, their food and their cooking style.

But what exactly are the pros and cons of social media for chefs? Here at The Staff Canteen, we wanted to see what social media-savvy chefs thought of it and how and why they use it.

Paul Foster, Salt
Paul Foster

Paul Foster, chef-owner of Salt in Stratford-upon-Avon and former head chef at Mallory Court which, during his time there held three Rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide, talks about how important social media has been to start his career.

He said: “I started using Twitter when there was a small community of chefs on there in 2010. I learned by making mistakes and seeing other people's mistakes whilst I had a smaller profile.”

Talking about personality, he adds: “I think the best way to be is to be yourself and show your personality on there, humility is also important. I hate Twitter accounts that feel robotic, people respond better to personality.

“I have had lots of negativity directed at me, especially when I have done Saturday kitchen. It is hard but it's best to ignore the trolls.

“I have used social media in ways that could be construed as negative as well, when I have been let down and received terrible customer service a simple tweet makes them listen surprisingly quickly.”

Tommy Banks, head chef and owner of the Michelin-starred, The Black Swan at Oldstead in North Yorkshire has a lot to say about social media and generally believes it is an extremely useful tool for a business within the hospitality sector.

Tommy Banks, Michelin starred Black Swan at Oldstead
Tommy Banks

Talking about how social media has helped develop his business and increase publicity, he said: “You can use it to generate business like late tables or cancellations, so it’s definitely positive as we take a lot of bookings through social media.”

He adds: “It’s not just for getting people into the restaurant, it’s recruitment as well. To get chefs you just tweet and within an hour I will have CVs come through and within a couple of days I always fill vacancies. In days gone by you probably would have had to pay advertisements or get a recruitment agency.”

>>> Read: Chefs and social media, what's the story? By Mark Morris

Tommy has never really been in the public eye but ever since he became a finalist of Great British Menu in 2016 with his ‘Preserving the Future’ fish dish, he has had to get used to a lot more attention.

He said: “Before I did GBM no one really cared who I was when they came to the restaurant. Suddenly everyone wants to talk to you. So I wouldn’t say it’s a problem but more a case where it’s like a shock and you really need to get used to it and figure out how it’s changed.”

Looking at the negative side of social media, he says: “Sometimes, if someone has a complaint, they approach you personally rather than the business itself and they try to blackmail you emotionally and I think that’s quite a dangerous thing because it can get personal.

“But I just pass it on to the restaurant and they can deal with it!”

But, as a whole, he believes social media is great and is all about networking: “People would say thank you for the meals and it’s nice to interact with people who have come and enjoyed their experience.

“I do it as well, when I go and eat at someone’s restaurant and I’ve had a really nice meal, I tweet them and it’s great because you can say thank you but you also say thank you publicly to thousands of followers, who might then go to their restaurant.”

Chantelle Nicholson, Tredwell's
Chantelle Nicholson

Chef patron of Tredwell’s and group operations director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants, Chantelle Nicholson, believes social media is a great tool to get a restaurant’s personality communicated.

She said: “I find social media a great platform. I think it works well internally in the industry as an easy and fast way to connect with people.”

She added: “I feel like Instagram has a lot less negativity than Twitter, perhaps because you have to post an image, not just a rant!

“On the whole, I think they are a great resource for restaurants and the teams who work in them/run them.”

Do you agree with these chefs? How social media helped or hinder you or your business? Let us know by adding your comments below or send us a message on Facebook or tweet us on Twitter: @canteentweets

By Sophie Tizit

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th May 2017

Social Media for chefs: what are the pros and cons?