Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Happening foodies spread the word and post fave dishes online

Al Brown. Photo / Dean Purcell
Al Brown. Photo / Dean Purcell

Social media's appetite for food pictures has been insatiable during Restaurant Month - and not only foodies are taking notice.

For the past four weeks Aucklanders have been dining out large at the 100-plus restaurants taking part in the month-long celebration of the city's many culinary delights - with menus highlighting sustainability, dining on a budget, adventurous eating and some of the best desserts our chefs have to offer.

As well as tucking in, foodies have also been posting up a storm to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Depot owner Al Brown said chefs were hugely aware of the power of online food imagery. He, too, checked social media posts before deciding where to dine out.

Instagram gives "a feeling or a character of the restaurant or the person putting the food up", Brown told the Herald on Sunday.

"At Depot we'll get a lot of people instagramming raw oysters and clams on ice and that's an absolute thing of beauty, absolutely unadorned. Then on the other side of the coin you have Federal Deli next door and you have them instagramming poutine."

Brown said his No 1 priority when preparing dishes was taste, not their look. "I think a casserole on a silky smooth pile of mashed potato is a thing of beauty," he said. "A huge part of our philosophy is how it looks comes last - first is how it tastes and the textures and how it's going to eat and then I think about how its going to look at the end.

"But I think for some others it might be the other way around."

Ben Bayly, head chef at The Grove, said social media was central to any restaurant's marketing strategy, whether chefs liked it or not.

"It's a way of communicating with customers and the way our customers are communicating with us and that's what it's all about and in a way it inspires you to do a better job because you want people to be singing your praises online."

For up-and-comers, social media was even more important.

Matt Shephard owns the newly opened Tiger Burger in Grey Lynn with his partner, Esther Jeong.

An engaged social media audience had been key to their success, he said.

"Instagram is pretty much the only form of advertising we have.

"Ever since day one we've been on Instagram and slowly you get more and more followers."

The instant response from customers interacting with the brand online let him know whether or not something was working, Shephard said. Social media feedback had prompted him to make the decision to set up a restaurant after a hugely successful summer selling burgers in Silo Park.

"I remember people writing or private messaging us, like, 'When are you opening' or 'Can you open in my area?'"

- NZ Herald

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