From Shaping Bread to Shaping Ad Content

By Rob Zimmerman // Published on Dec 18, 2014

A Chef’s Journey into the World of Marketing

Once at a family gathering, my mother was asked, “When did you first know that your son would become a chef?” Without a flicker of delay, she responded, “Probably when he was still in the womb. Every time I got close to the ham salad, I’d feel a kick!” 

Although my love for food remains, my interest in working late nights, weekends, and holidays has diminished. These days I find myself spending most of my working hours in the creative labs of Boldwerks, and happily so. This of course, leads to the question: “What business does a retired chef have in an advertising company?” My reply is that there are many skills one develops in the restaurant business that translate into the marketing world.  Let’s look at 3 of the most critical:

Chefs possess exceptional attention to detail. Just as the old saying goes, “The devil is in the details,” so are the archangels consistency, quality, and reliability.  We’ve all had a similar experience: it’s lunchtime on Friday. The man’s been getting you down all week.  You need a pick me up.  You’ve been craving your favorite sandwich from the café down the street.  The lunch bell rings and you decide to treat yourself.  You shoot out of your cubicle like a 10 year old at recess.  Arriving, you find your favorite little table in the corner is somehow unoccupied despite the massive lunch crowd building near the door. Things are going well. This was a good idea.  The server quickly greets you and you emphatically place your order for what, in your humble opinion, is the “best sandwich in the world.”  You sit back in your chair and drift into reverie. 

Stressful thoughts of emails and deadlines shift to the perfect crunch of freshly toasted sourdough.  Your olfactory engages with the honey-cured ham center in your brain. You drool a little.  A few hazy moments pass, then voila!! the sandwich arrives.  You dive right in, eager to re-live this culinary experience.  But, wait, something is wrong!!  You chew a couple more times in desperate fashion, hoping your brain just hasn’t fully awakened yet. But no. As your heart sinks deep into the pit of your stomach, you come to terms with reality – this is not the same sandwich as before.  How could this be? You take a step back and peer back at the disappointing morsel with a critical eye.  You notice the bread is soggy and greasy.  You lift up a corner, and realize that they forgot the cheese.  You are stunned and incredibly disappointed.  This was supposed to be your treat.  This was your reward after a brutal workweek.  The job of the chef is to keep this experiencing from ever happening.

How?

By vigilantly managing the details.  A good chef will ensure that every bite of food that leaves the kitchen is perfectly delicious each and every time.  This is no small task and requires an exceptional level of attention to detail.

Chefs are creative people. Building exciting, fresh, enticing menus takes creativity.  Customers have many choices when it comes to eating out.  Let’s face it, competition is at an all-time high.  The number of restaurants has skyrocketed over the last decade. Interest in food and consumer knowledge has also grown substantially.  Media channels such as The Food Network have provided curious, young gastrophiles with a nearly endless stream of information.  Apps like Yelp and Urbanspoon bring menus and reviews to the consumer’s fingertips.  Standing out in a sea of competition takes talent and creativity.  It takes pizazz.  It takes boldness.  A bland, stale menu will leave potential diners wishing for more, and probably going to the competition. 

Chefs possess incredible work ethics. To consistently push through 60-70 hour work weeks, a chef develops stamina and an unwavering commitment to the job at hand. Laziness in this industry is a one way ticket to the exit door.  Put simply, chefs know how to maximize every second of the day, have incredible multi-tasking skills, and meet multiple deadlines every single day.

Now, let’s bring it full-circle.  Here at Boldwerks, we employ these core skills to every project we do, whether it’s building our clients the perfect webpage, brand logo, or print brochure.  It's not only about great content, fresh approaches, and innovative design, it's about our unrelenting attention to detail.  Every word, every caption, every image…it has to be right. It has to have impact.  It has to be BOLD.

"Our most important legacy will be the contributions we make to the lives of other human beings."
- Thomas Kinkad