Chefs and restaurants are leading the way on social media, showcasing innovative concepts and new ways of working. Follow these Instagram accounts for culinary and operational inspiration
Dining out can help members of the food industry stay on top of trends and discover new tastes. But with restaurants focusing on survival rather than novelty during COVID-19, Instagram is a growing source of inspiration for innovation chefs working and ideating mostly from home.
We surveyed members of Kerry’s global culinary team to find out which inspiring Instagram accounts they’re currently following for fresh ideas and COVID-19-era insights. The feeds they suggest highlight creative concepts that could give your business some food for thought, from ingredient selection and application to newly digital- and delivery-driven business models.
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- Leslie Serrano, Senior Innovation Chef, Beloit, Wisconsin, USA
- Scott Walnofer, Senior Director of Culinary, Bentonville, Arkansas, USA
- Mauricio Bonfim, Innovation Manager, RDA, Campinas, Brazil
- Pascal Miola, Senior Development & Application Chef, Naas, Ireland
- Thomas Chai, Executive Chef RDA, Singapore
- Donal Lock, Research, Development & Applications Manager, Naas, Ireland
The feed of a Massimo Bottura, chef patron of Osteria Francescana and founder of numerous restaurants and a growing non-profit, could be described as “Italian cuisine with a laugh”. Bottura’s lively homemade “Kitchen Quarantine” Instagram video posts aired nightly from Italy during the COVID-19 lockdown, offering guidance on how to make everything from a good gin and tonic to a traditional Italian pasta. The simple menus may provide inspiration, but don’t overlook the way this chef’s unfiltered personality reflects on-screen authenticity. His easy manner and boisterous guest appearances bring new life to home-cooking in a way brands may want to recreate.
The Willa Jean café, based in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, focuses on Southern fare, much of which falls under the category of “comfort food” that’s currently trending. The account posts mouth-watering images of brunch and salad options, including iconic creations such as Lenten kolache stuffed with crawfish, green onion and béchamel. Other foods showcased include their take on shrimp toast, handmade biscuits, trending cocktails and Mississippi fudge ice-cream, suggesting this feed is full of food industry inspiration for brands across a wide range of categories.
The account of Chef Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery reflects its devotion to the classic boulangeries in France. It is a reliable source for new bakery concepts, from gingerbread macarons and strawberry croissants to yuzu croissants and the bakery’s own Bouchon brownies. (For more bakery inspiration, see our article on bakery trends on Instagram.) The feed includes bakery-related ties to current events, from showcasing workers in masks to celebrating pride with rainbow cakes and, on a heavier note, announcing the closing of the brand’s Rockefeller Center, NYC, location in late July 2020.
Chef Jefferson Reuda of The Pig House restaurant, in São Paulo, Brazil, has reinvented pork with new preparation and application techniques. Brands and fine dining restaurants can find menu inspiration here, as well as a new take on the delivery presentation of restaurant’s fare. In keeping with the changing times, Rueda has been posting images of the restaurant’s takeaway containers, which resemble bento boxes and include a taste of the restaurant’s delicacies. These can be tailored depending on personal taste, from vegan and vegetarian to delicious pork creations. The restaurant also offers dessert boxes and recently launched a hot dog kit.
In 2014 Helena Rizzo was named the world’s best female chef by Veuve Clicquot, and her creativity continues to dazzle consumers and critics alike. Based in São Paulo, Brazil, Rizzo posts images of dishes and the behind the scenes at her Michelin-star-winning-restaurant Maní, which Food and Wine named one of the top restaurants in the world in 2019. Because Maní generally offers a fine-dining experience, Rizzo and staff are adapting to deliver a luxe experience under new COVID-19 regulations, such as through custom-designed artsy takeout containers.
Specialising in regional French cuisine, Helene Darroze is a well-known chef with a two-Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant at The Connaught Hotel in London. Her account is full of dishes with a nod to local gourmet cuisine in France, such as onion tarts, crusty breads and decadent desserts. Darroze’s food is wholesome and familiar, but with a premium twist. Scan her account for recent posts that include rich and simple recipes that naturally deliver the positive sensory characteristics of comfort food.
Chef Lauren Von De Pool describes herself as a “plant-based healing food artist”. Her book, Eat Yourself Sexy! The Goddess Edition, includes recipes using ingredients that are sustainably sourced and plant-based. Scroll Von Del Pool’s Instagram account to find colourful dishes with a focus on immunity and general health benefits. As the industry shifts to embrace the rise in popularity of functional foods, plant-based products and sustainability, her posts are a good place to look for and learn about emerging trends.
With over 1.2 million followers on Instagram, due in part to his successful series of cookbooks and award-winning London-based restaurants and delis, Yotam Ottolenghi is renowned for his creative take on Middle Eastern cuisine. He has effectively leveraged Instagram stories during the quarantine period, posting recipes that are now saved to his account as Highlights. His feed is full of bright images of hearty and healthy food, from ginger and tomato gazpacho to a sweet and sour plum and sausage traybake. With travel restrictions in place in much of the world, homebound consumers are turning to food to satisfy global cravings. Ottolenghi brings this flavour and international inspirations to his Instagram account.
Irish chef Conor Spacey puts sustainability front and centre. His Instagram content focuses on reducing food waste, showing followers how to use all parts of vegetables such as cauliflower and using the remnants of your weekly shop for a tasty meal in his ‘empty the fridge series’. Kombucha enthusiasts will also appreciate his tutorial on how to make scoby and ferment to create the perfect brew. Brands can draw some of his ideas for inspiration here for consumers who are becoming more conscious of food waste and its impact on the environment.
Reports suggest that consumers are more likely to order fish in a restaurant than make it at home, which suggests there may be a skill gap for home chefs when it comes to preparing seafood. For inspiration on fish-based menu and product innovation, Josh Niland’s account is well worth following for its coverage of fish butchery and inventive dishes. Based in Australia, Niland’s Instagram feed boasts a broad range of creations inspired by the meat world, including swordfish pastor, bass schnitzel rolls and albacore kofta pitta pockets.
Private chef Kayla Greer of Los Angeles, California, USA, curates an Instagram feed full of wholesome and traditional dishes that have attracted a devoted fan base. She recently started offering thematic cooking classes via Zoom through her #cookingwithkay series. For example, in recognition of Juneteenth, she created a class showcasing dishes that are important to the Black community such as shrimp and grits and honey sweet potato mash. Her talent for connecting with consumers and out-of-the-box thinking makes her well worth following.