Recipe for success in a snap
FORGET exotic ingredients, the biggest food trend for Sydney chefs is adding the “Instagram effect”.
It’s what happens when a wellshot dish, cake or cocktail translates into thousands of “likes” and, subsequently, a line of people snaking around the block.
As a result Instagram is the app of choice for everyone, from humble cafe owners to the most esteemed chefs, with pastry queen Anna Polyviou (90,000 followers), Quay’s Peter Gilmore (60,000) and Guillaume Brahimi (28,000) among the most popular.
Dan Hong is another, although he stumbled into the Instagram juggernaut almost as an afterthought.
A Twitter devotee who had built a reputation for his two-line zingers on everything from music to politics, the Sydney chef decided to switch mediums in 2012 and began uploading pictures of, as he said, “food, sneakers and my kids”.
Just under 10,000 posts later, Hong — now head chef at inner-city Chinese institution Mr Wong — has accumulated more than 50,000 followers; a shining example of what can happen when a chef embraces the app.
“And I don’t see it slowing down in any way,” Hong said.
Hong’s posts, like one recent picture of a jumbo Alaskan king crab, can draw 5000 likes, while other snaps, like of a box of fresh truffles earlier this week, can send the Mr Wong reservation line into instant overdrive.
“Literally a few minutes after I posted it the phone started ringing and it was people asking about the truffles,” he said. “So you do see a pretty instant effect.”
Adriana Rodrigues, chef at Salt Meats Cheese at Broadway, said she saw the Instagram effect first-hand after posting a snap of a Parmigiano Reggiano wheel being used to mix fettuccine, cream and fresh truffles.
Within hours it had 3000 “likes” and the restaurant was booked, with every table asking for the dish, now known as “the truffle wheel”.
“It drives bookings within hours,” she said, adding that staff are cautioned about “over-sharing”.
“One poorly timed post or flippant comment can be more damaging than you’d expect,” she said.
It happened recently for Queen Chow head chef Patrick Friesen, who admits he “copped it” from followers recently after a controversial video posted during a trip to Korea.
“I took a video of live octopus sashimi, which is a really popular dish there,” said Friesen. “The octopus is actually dead but the way the nerves react when they pull it out of the tank and slice it up it still wriggles around on your plate. But unfortunately I had a lot of people saying ‘you’re a monster — you’re disgusting’. So it can backfire.”
Dan Hong’ s Alask an king crab and (belo w) his chicken burger. Adriana Rodrigues had huge success with her Instagram shot of a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheel. Picture: Richard Dobson ONLINE DAILYTELEGRAPH .COM.AU Anna Polyviou’s sweet treats....