What makes a star? Haute rags are not enough unless you have an Instagram account. Creative writing is not enough unless you are on Facebook. Just a high voltage performance in a film isn’t all that matters unless you are on Twitter. And good food does not make a successful chef either, unless you have all three and more.
Instagram is the new gastronomic continent. In the age of Social Media Chefs, both the audience and the culinary impresarios are loving it. For it shows that they are more than just chefs; arrogant, eccentric, hypersensitive artists who love the pressure of Michelin stars unless they are Sebastien Bras, who owns Le Suquet restaurant in southern France, which had held Michelin’s three-star rating for 18 years. Bras gave up his three stars and that too, became world news by trending on Twitter and made him a retro celeb chef.
Of all the social media chefs, Rick Bayless who owns Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco, and Tortas Frontera is the maestro. His online followers learned that he is more than just a genius with a ladle: he stars in dinner theatre, does four splits of daily yoga, is an award-winning dancer, cultivates $30,000 worth of produce in his backyard and his parties are legendary. The Mexican government bestowed on him the country’s official Order of the Aztec Eagle for his contributions to Mexican cuisine. He has 59,700 Instagram fans and 9,31,000 Twitter followers who lust for his photos of dishes embellished with herbs, leafy greens, and root vegetables plated masterpieces.
British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has a whopping 4.6 million followers which gives him first place among chefs on Instagram. Gordon Ramsay is second with 1.7 million followers. Social media has upped their desirability quotient; click on a link and voila, you get free recipes from some of the chefs.
Interaction has made food accessible and desirable. Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor of Khana Khazana fame is highly followed on Twitter, where he shares recipes. Says celebrity chef Vikramjit Roy, “Why single out chefs alone? I think, social media is a wonderful platform for anyone to showcase what they are doing. And it’s not really a new trend. Also, every creative person needs an outlet. The social media is more like an advertisement platform, and nothing wrong with advertising your talent.”
You can connect with fellow foodies through his hashtag. Chef Vikas Khanna, who was featured by People magazine in 2011 in the list of ‘Sexiest Man Alive’, makes sure he replies to all tweets. Harpal Singh Sokhi gives online cooking tutorials on YouTube. Kunal Kapur who created a record for creating India’s largest chocolate tower is promoting his cook book heavily on social media—he expands his conversations to more than just recipes, making him a versatile food guru.