the Eat Local issue

FOOD- STAGRAMS by Sarah Baird

For restaurateur Larry Miller — who co- owns New Orleans’ Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro with his wife, Chef Nina Compton — social media is a “therapeutic”way to explore and capture the beauty of the city’s culinary traditions. “Using social media is really just a way for me to experience the town and show off all the amazing food we have here,” says Miller, who often snaps hilarious photos of himself with legendary chef Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen’s Restaurant. “Whether it’s a super high-end meal, or the crummiest late-night po-boy that is still completely delicious, I’ll post a picture of it all.” But even culinary pros occasionally play fa- vorites with the foods they want to make so- cial media darlings. For Miller, crawfish and shrimp take top billing as the favorite-to- photograph ingredient because of the inher- ent pop of color they add to a dish. Ducote, on the other hand, has an affection for tacos. “The way that tacos are built when you make them open-faced can be beautiful to photo- graph,” says Ducote. “If you garnish them right, you can make sure that texture, height and flavors are evident even in the picture.”

I t’s long been said that anyone sitting down to dinner (or breakfast, or a midnight snack) “eats with their eyes” before even a morsel of food touches the lips — a testament to the importance of tantalizing the visual sense before satiating the palate. Never before, though, has this adage been more relevant than in today’s world of food-loving social media. Sharing selfies on Facebook while whipping up a meal or snapping jealousy-inspiring shots from the latest restaurant opening on Snapchat has become de rigueur , and an integral part of everyday life for culinary enthusiasts. After all, if you eat a gorgeous steak dinner and don’t Instagram about it, did it really even happen? But the rise of social media dominance hasn’t just changed how people cook at home or enjoy a night out.The influence of these online platforms has also dramatically

your audience likes. Sometimes, it’s almost easier to build a relationship via social media than person-to-person.” Chef Jay Ducote of Baton Rouge, who finished as runner-up on Food Network Star in 2015, agrees. “Social media has given every chef the ability to reach an audience and share their passion. It allows chefs out there to really expose themselves and get [their food] out there other than just through word- of-mouth and traditional media,” Ducote notes. “It also allows followers and foodies to interact with chefs in a way they never could before at more traditional places. Now, even on a local level, you can have ‘celebrity chefs’ that people follow, and through social media they can understand where the chef and their passion are coming from. I think we’re going to see it increase more and more.”

impacted chefs, who now must create delicious, stunning meals while operating the ins and outs of running a restaurant — all while keeping up with a public social media presence. “As a chef, the key to success in social media — like with anything — is dialogue,” says Chef Sean “Poochie” Rivera of GastreauxNomica in Baton Rouge, whose “gorilla-heart- gorilla” emoji combination has become something of an online signature. “You start off by commenting on posts from chefs you admire, and see how their audience responds to them, and then figure out what

[ABOVE] Chef Frank Brigsten of Brigtsen’s Restaurant and Larry Miller of New Orleans Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro [LEFT] Chef Jay Ducote



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