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Hong Kong Chefs on Instasuccess

Does a chef’s Instagram account play an active role in a restaurant’s longevity? Five of Hong Kong’s most talented chefs share their thoughts on IG and its link to success.

By Vicki Williams
January 4, 2022

When the legendary chef, Alain Ducasse, lost his 3-star gig at Plaza Athénée in Paris, many chefs and restaurant critics in France were stunned, and in some cases downright mad.

The strong reactions were mostly centred around Ducasse’s replacement, forty-year-old Jean Imbert. A chef with no Michelin stars but lots of (Hollywood) stars for friends, best known for TV appearances and winning season 3 of the French version of Top Chef (in 2012).

Not all fell into this shock stockpot though, bringing Instagram into the equation. “A chef that stays in the kitchen, who isn't 'instagramable', reaching out to the public, is no longer in the race. Restaurants can't survive without publicity. There are so many of us,” said chef Christian Le Squer, of three Michelin-starred Le Cinq in Paris, in an AFP article.

Does being insta-savvy really play that large a role in a restaurant’s success in Hong Kong and what do chefs think about Instagram? ECHELON reached out to five leading chefs for answers.



Photo: @guillaumegalliot

“I love Instagram as a platform for sharing my latest updates and new dishes and for engaging with patrons who enjoy Caprice. It also allows people globally to discover the restaurant,” says Guillaume Galliot (@guillaumegalliot), Caprice’s chef de cuisine.

Photo: @franckelielaloum

Franckelie Laloum (@franckelielaloum), executive chef Louise, is another chef who is a fan. “I enjoy sharing the behind the scenes with my followers. I mostly post during a break or often directly from the kitchen, so it does not take too much of my time.”

As is Baptiste Villefranque (@villefranque_b), executive pastry chef. “I believe my IG account is really important as it’s a worldwide portfolio, constantly updated, allowing me to post my creations, my journey and more, with a maximum of people.”

Photo: @villefranque_b

Taking his posts seriously Villefranque carefully considers the overall visual message of his page, ensuring that each image posted matches the overall look.



Shane Osborn (@shaneosbornchef), chef and founder of The Arcane Collective, which includes Arcane, Cornerstone and Moxie, has a more pragmatic view. “Instagram is a snapshot of the restaurant and often the first reference point potential guests look at before booking. It is just one of the many tools that helps build the reputation of a restaurant but I don’t feel it’s an essential part of its success”.

Photo: @shaneosbornchef

Adding, “It is a necessary part of running a food business and it is often an interesting part of the creative process in telling stories about the restaurant, its staff, and its philosophy.” Osborn, who is not as active on Instagram as some of the other chefs, feels it is also important to take regular digital detox breaks from all social media.

Taking a completely different view is David Lai, (@davidtlai) chef and owner of Neighbourhood, who considers his use of Instagram more towards food blogging, often cataloguing his dining out experiences and posting sporadically.

Photo: @davidtlai

Like Osborn, he doesn’t feel it is essential for success, seeing it more as a gentle subliminal reminder to people that he and the restaurant are still here. “I don't use it as an advertisement platform, it is more a personal graffiti wall, a reminder. I think only 20% of my posts are related to my restaurant, most of the time it's about other restaurants.”



Frequent posters Villefranque and Laloum however both believe in a link between Instagram and success.

Photo: @villefranque_b

“I agree with those chefs that feel there is a link between Instagram and a restaurant’s success. I think people want to know the menu, for sure, but we can see also that in general people are more and more interested in who is in the kitchen creating dishes. They want to know who is the chef, his lifestyle etcetera,” says Villefranque.

Photo: @franckelielaloum

Laloum adds, “It is a very good tool to show our job, our creations and also to see what other chefs are doing around the world, it’s amazing to be connected to the world just via a phone. I think it can definitely help the success of a restaurant, but in the end the main point is to have good food and good service otherwise guests will not return.” This final thought a sentiment shared by all of the chefs.

Galliot says, “I don't post as often as I wish because my priority is dish creation, quality control and restaurant management.”

He does not have a definitive view of Instagram’s link to success, appreciating it more as a platform of visual information that would not be possible on a hotel’s website.

“A picture speaks a thousand words, and we understand that most people are attracted to visual images and look for their next restaurant to visit on Instagram. Managing a successful page is one thing, but the fundamentals of running a great restaurant lies in the quality of food, the restaurant concept, and exceptional service.”