Social Chefs, New England Food Show, and Boston Seafood Show
Boston is more full of food than usual this week. If you live in the area you likely know that both the New England Food Show and the Boston Seafood Show kicked off this weekend. Side-by-side in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, these two events offer the opportunity to learn about food from all over. There was seafood from Maine to Morocco to Korea and all around the world.
I encountered lots of fish that stared back at me.
Some super high end culinary delights. The Champagne caught my eye, naturally.
And old favorites, like Backyard Farms tomatoes.
I spent some time being a little overwhelmed by all of the tables, samples, and people, but enjoying all of the sights, sounds, and smells before I headed to my main destination.
I was invited to the New England Food Show for one of the keynotes, Social Chefs:
Social Chefs: Using Your Followers to Build a Following. Boston’s top social chefs – Jamie Bissonnette (Chef/OwnerCoppa and Toro and 2013 James Beard Award Nominee for Best Chef: Northeast), Joanne Chang (Chef/Co-owner Myers + Chang, Pastry Chef Flour Bakery + Café, and 2013 James Beard Award Nominee for Best Chef: Northeast), Brian Poe (Executive Chef Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, Chef/Owner The Tip Tap Room, and Owner Estelle’s), and Jason Santos (Chef/Owner Blue Inc. and Abby Lane) – will share some of their tips and tricks for converting virtual “followers” into regular customers. These local celebrity chefs will discuss social media strategies and tactics, how the cyber world is affecting the Boston restaurant scene and the culinary industry as a whole, social media crisis control, and much more.
Once I read the description of the keynote, I knew it was perfect for anyone who loves these Boston chefs and works in social media. It did not disappoint!
451 Marketing brought together a team of some of Boston’s best, which just served to remind me how GREAT the food scene has become in Boston. The panel started out structured and then allowed for plenty of audience questions and comments on social media, Boston restaurants, and more.
The overall consensus was that you build engagement on social platforms by engaging. All of the chefs, though incredibly busy, found it easy to tweet or respond to tweets because they always had their phones in their pockets. These chefs know that people want to be engaged and to know what’s happening behind the scenes at their favorite restaurants.
The panel talked about how social media has changed business. Jamie Bissonette noted that, earlier in his career, if he wanted to know what was happening in Paris, or Boston or other places, he had to travel to them to see for himself. Social media, as most of us know, has really made our worlds bigger and smaller, allowing chefs to see what is going on in kitchens around the world, inspiring them, fostering some friendly competition, and generally helping both the chefs and the industry to grow, a win for everyone.
A few things really stood out to me. One was a question about responding to negative feedback; these chefs saw it as an opportunity to open a door to a new relationship, to connect with a customer where they otherwise might not. Chef Bissonette noted that about nine times out of ten, following up on a negative comment creates a long term fan. I have experienced that in my own social media work; sometimes the best brand ambassadors came from the simple fact that a brand paid attention to them.
The other thing I loved about this panel was how supportive the panelists were of each other and other Boston chefs. They seemed to welcome food trucks, new restaurants, burgeoning neighborhoods, as an opportunity for everyone to get better, to bring more foot traffic to the city, and to provide options that also help to create jobs and better food. The main message was about positivity, putting it out there, supporting everyone, and having that positivity come right back at you. There was a lot of Boston pride happening on the panel, and for good reason. All of the chefs are doing great things, and they generally came across as great people, despite their celeb status. It was a great idea for a panel, and I was happy to be able to attend.
Both the seafood show and the food show offer some great opportunities for learning about new products and networking, and I wish I had more time to explore both. I would definitely set aside an entire day next year to visit this massive food event.
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