InstaFood: How Social Media Serves Emerging Chefs
Have you ever snapped a picture of an alluring dish before digging in? You might have even chosen a filter and a hashtag while your meal grew cold. You’re not alone. On Instagram, the hashtag #food yields over 180 million results and counting.
That’s no surprise. Food is a social currency. We relate and connect over the experience of food and, like many meaningful experiences, we feel an impulse to share it with our social communities. A high-resolution Instagram post of a delicately plated dessert might hold weight with millennials than a critic review. Emerging chefs are taking notice.
“I don’t own a restaurant, but I can post the dishes I make in class or at home,” says Vince Brady, a Culinary Arts student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. “It’s a way for you to get your name out there. It’s a free way of marketing.” And he’s right. In 2015, Chili’s refined its plating aesthetic to accommodate the trend, opting for stainless steel fry baskets and more photogenic burger buns. Carmel Winery, in Israel, debuted filtered lighting and custom rotating plates with built-in phone stands to help visitors get a #foodporn-worthy shot. Many restaurants even have their own hashtags, which they use to aggregate posts on the web.
Set to graduate with an Associate of Science degree this spring, Brady recently won $2,500 for his signature dish, “Taste of Duck,” in the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef finals, held in Napa, California. Brady documents his competitions and leverages his portfolio of elegant plating and innovative dishes with popular hashtags like #chefsofinstagram
The key is to find the capture the right angle of a beautiful dish. “I try to find the perfect viewpoint through the camera for how I want the food to be presented,” he says.
Top chefs with premier restaurants and amateur food bloggers alike have joined the buzz. Popular accounts like @chefsofinstagram aggregate the content to offer a growing feed for inspiration. “I see so many ways to plate a dish. I find approaches that intrigue me, things that I’m inspired to try,” Brady says. While social media dramatically shifts the landscape of creative industries, opportunities expand. Platforms like Instagram invite conversation into the experience of art and provide valuable exposure for emerging makers. “Everyone starts out as an amateur,” says Brady. “It’s a way to show your work. When you’re applying to jobs, you can send your Instagram handle along with your resume."
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