Pics Or It Never Happened

Find your light, chefs.

June 29, 2017 ● 2 min read

By Richie Nakano | Image iStock

Well, we've done it. The river of chef-driven PR has risen to Oh-God-The-Levee-Is-Going-To-Break-And-Destroy-Foodie-Town-Ruth-Get-The-Children status.

As we know, chefs have become Very Important public figures, and the only restaurants that will survive this twisted apocalypse will be the presentable ones helmed by a coiffed boss chef. Every day brings a new collection of carefully-composed, humble-braggy chef portraits on social media. You must seem approachable. You must smize if that is your Brand—otherwise, grip your knife and think of Papa Ramsey. Also, who the hell takes all these pictures? Are you supposed to have a portrait of yourself laughing good-naturedly by the pass on file? Should I get an agent? Do they just keep a photographer on staff? Is that a thing now?

[DISCLAIMER: a quick Google search will reveal that the author has repeatedly participated in photo shoots like this, and may or may not have used one of them as an online dating profile pic once. #therebel.]

Since these shots appear to be a must, perhaps it's time to freshen it up with some new ideas:  

What we currently have: Chef with a dead animal draped over the shoulder 

This shot needs to retire forever. It was cool 900 years ago when April Bloomfield did it, but since then it's been used as a feeble representation of the faux hardcore butcher and craftsman. You ever notice how they never show the chef actually butchering the animal?  

What we want: Chef trying to fit an extra three cases of chicken on the shelf because its Friday and another meat delivery isn't coming until Monday, a shot that would paint the agony (and eventual ecstasy) that is organizing a walk-in properly.   

What we currently have: Candid pics shot from afar of chefs cooking, running service, chatting with guests.  

These are the most confusing pics in the food world because there are SO MANY OF THEM. Some chefs seemingly have an endless supply of them which either means they are constantly getting PR work done or have a severe paparazzi problem.  

What we want: Highly stylized, ridiculous photos. Think, “Oops, the baby accidentally dumped spaghetti on its head." Only instead of a baby, it's Thomas Keller.    

What we currently have: The “chef that’s about to get to work and looks super serious” shot.   

Look, that chef is rolling their sleeves up! They must be about to get to work. Look, that chef looks angry, almost like they hate their job. They must be about to get to work. Look, that chef is leaning against the ice machine. They must be about to get to work.  

What we want: A chef looking jolly as fuck, laughing their ass off with their hands on their stomach. Think Guy Fieri. If chefs could be more Fieri-esque, this world would be a better place. Just once, it would be nice if a photographer told the chef to “act as excited as Guy Fieri introducing Smash Mouth at the Sonoma County Fair." Pure glee. 

What we currently have: The chef delicately plating shot.

This shot may be the worst sin of them all, except for the “chef shopping at a farmers market and artfully sniffing a peach" one, which is so embarrassing it hurts. It combines the vanity of the "chef getting to work" with the pious "chef as humble craftsman," with a soupçon of the “why is someone taking pictures of this chef from afar?” weirdness. Why is this chef plating a chopped salad with tweezers? No one knows. 

What we want: Literally anything else. Chef assembling an advanced Lego set. Chef swiping Tinder while tickets back up during service. Chef entering inventory into an excel spreadsheet. Chef getting served papers for an embarrassing and career ruining sexual harassment suit. ANYTHING else.