As the world becomes more virtually social than ever before (which might be the exact opposite of becoming actually social), many restaurants are building up active web presences, for better or worse. In other industries, it's often relatively easy to separate one's online persona from the company for which one works, but as a chef, you're the face of the "brand" 24/7 — whether you're posting food porn on Instagram or sharing thoughts unrelated to food on Twitter. This can be a great way to connect with potential customers, regulars, and even food enthusiasts thousands of miles away, but what happens when chefs behave in a way that might be considered not politically correct or polite?
Anything can happen in 140 characters and a few seconds of thinking (or not thinking), and once it's online, it's there forever. Should diners consider a chef's online persona when making choices about where to eat? Should chefs realize that PR is important, and they're a part of a "strategy," whether they like it or not? The bottom line, hopefully, is that the food matters more than anything else, but the fact remains that diners consider other aspects of a restaurant as well. Just as you might not choose to go to a restaurant where you think the ambiance is unpleasant, you might want to avoid a restaurant if you saw the chef calling a customer names on Facebook.
Stepping away from this week's silly social media kerfluffle regarding Neptune Oyster chef Michael Serpa's comments on the North End, chime in below with your thoughts on the larger picture. As social media continues to take over the world one cutely-named startup at a time, how can chefs best take advantage of the platforms available? What are the pitfalls? And should diners care what a chef tweets if he's putting out quality food?
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