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EXPERT SPEAK

So you want to be a ‘Chefebrity’?

By Dominic Costabir, Director, HTI International FZE

Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 11:01 Hrs  [IST]

About two decades ago, thanks to Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, chefs began to realise the power of their presence more than their pan. At around the same time, we had a new genre of chefs (still not defined by Oxford dictionary) let’s call them ‘chefebrities’ - Karen Anand, Rashmi Uday Singh, Deepa Awchat, Tarla Dalal... and the traditional chefs were convinced to shed their inhibitions about coming out of the kitchen (live stations) and interacting with guests, even walking up to tables and mingling with the guests.

Then they got bolder and looked (understatement!) for publicity through print and electronic media, amping up their popularity ratings.

Cut to today, too many chefebrities in the limelight. Chef Vicky Ratnani, Vikas Khanna, Ranveer Brar, Madhur Jaffrey, Anjum Anand and many more already on the scene and a host of chefs waiting in the side-lines to become chefebrities.

Chefs who want to become chefebrities should realise that often it’s not just the food or preparation that will get you famous/ popular. Just like it’s not necessarily acting or dancing skills that got actors the role. You got to watch your positioning, product, packaging and promotion.

Positioning
You can’t say I can cook all cuisines in the hope that this versatility will make you more available and thus increase your chances of being noticed. You need to take a position, like diet and health food, Bengali cuisine, slow food, grills. Now while you position yourself, ideally

ensure no other chefebrity already ‘owns’ that position as it’s difficult to displace a person who has already captured that position. Once you own a position only then should you branch but ideally don’t relinquish your established position.

Product
Based on your positioning, you have to look at the products (preparations) you are offering. And they must be eye-appealing (presentation) and should sound exotic (names). The flavours and aromas must be described artistically. When approaching or approached, say exactly what you are good at and how you plan to present it - this must be scripted (pre-planned) to a large extent. The appeal of the product could be in its entertainment value (flair and style), and educational appeal (background, origin and history).

Packaging
Your grooming, culinary skills, food, general knowledge, communications skills (language proficiency and ability to weave words) together must present a unique and holistic package.

Promotion
No point being good at the above and not being able to promote yourself. Use social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) and YouTube videos to self-promote even after you get noticed and get media attention. But don’t overdo it. You don’t want to look too desperate (even if you are). Use your network and goodwill to help spread the word.

Leverage the tips above and experiment a bit; nothing like personal experience to add to your study. See you soon, chefebrity!

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

 
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