Celebrity Chef Events – Why They Might be Right for Your Brand

2018 has been filled to the brim with celebrity chef driven events and the reason is simple: food plays a critical role in an attendee’s overall event experience.

Celeb chefs are the new influencers. Look at who’s on television and you see the increasing popularity and domination of shows like Chef’s Table, The Great British Baking Show, Top Chef, and their various spin offs.

As consumers watch these shows, read chef profiles, try out recipes and read restaurant reviews online, they have become increasingly educated when it comes to spending money on dining experiences and culinary events.

For a number of brands that we speak with, whether they are a startup revealing a new product for the first time, or a restaurant previewing a seasonal menu, the key to meeting and exceeding the modern consumer’s high expectations, is by participating in a celebrity chef driven partnership or event. In addition to delighting attendees with delicious creations, this new genre of celebrity chef influencer holds the power of persuasion when it comes to conveying a brand’s messaging and turning guests into future customers.

Drive Home Product Attributes

 One of the events we love to work with is Harlem Eat Up! Founded by Marcus Samuelsson and celebrity chef marketer Herb Karlitz in 2014, the food festival was takes over Morningside Park for a week-long event where they honor the chefs, restaurants and producers who make Harlem’s culinary scene so unique.

Dozens of cooking demo’s, celebrity chef pairing dinners, wine seminars were organized for the 20,000 guests that attended, in addition to meet-and-greets with the crème de la crème of the culinary world including Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay and Dominique Crenn.

For the first time ever, in 2018, Harlem Eat Up! harnessed the power of iconic food brands in addition to chefs when they sold Rao’s famous meatballs for $10 a pop at the festival, making the restaurant experience known for the hardest reservation in town, accessible to festival goers.

If you have a culinary brand, and are thinking about participating in a festival, Herb Karlitz, owner of Karlitz & Co., an event marketing agency focused on food experiences, festivals and partnership, says that finding the right event partner doesn’t have to be about the chef’s name but rather the brand recognition. “It could easily be a restaurant name that you leverage for the partnership. Some of the hottest and hard-to-get reservations are where everybody knows the name, but nobody knows the chef.”

Chefs as Brand Advocates

At Dan’s Papers Grillhampton in Bridgehampton this summer, our client, New York Prime Beef, the premium dry aged online butchers, was the Presenting Sponsor. This gave them direct access to more than 50 New York City and Hamptons chefs and restaurants, as well as the opportunity to gain introductions to dozens of celebrity chefs and restaurants in an organic and natural setting.

By featuring high profiles chefs as David Burke (Tavern 62, Woodpecker) Matt Abdoo (Pig Beach) and Alan Richman (Food Network,) the event helped create interest in our client’s premium product.

The chefs were leveraged as brand advocates and ambassadors who could then extol the virtues of the product on their social media channels.

If you want to work with celebrity chefs to promote your products, educate an audience or something different altogether, finding a partner that aligns with the company’s personality and core values is key. Blindly choosing someone based solely on his or her celebrity status is never a sound strategy.

If you want to enter into a partnership with a celebrity chef – make sure to do the research and determine exactly what you’d like the partnership to accomplish and what culinary personality fits the bill. Do this and you will be well on your way to creating strong networking opportunities and new customers for your clients.