Writing for Business Advice, Mike Hardman, restaurant equipment specialist at?Alliance Online, takes a closer look at how to attract millennial diners by serving food worthy of their Instagram accounts.
Millennials spend more on eating out than any other generation, but learning how to successfully market food to them can leave many restauranteurs scratching their heads.
Visit any fashionable dining spot and you’ll see them: young people taking photos of their food just after it’s served and before they tuck in. For older diners, this is still probably a strange sight, but for restauranteurs, it’s a sign they’ve struck gold, as these photos are likely being posted straight to Instagram with a flattering filter.
Getting food featured on the image-based social network is free publicity for eateries who want to attract young customers. This is because many millennials will actively use Instagram to research where they plan to eat out and what they are going to order when they get there.
In fact, 30 per cent of 18£35-year olds said they would avoid a restaurant if they had a weak Instagram presence, according to research from Zizzi.
However, preparing and presenting your dishes in a way that makes someone want to snap a photo isn’t easy if you don’t know where to begin. To help you out, I’ve put together five tips for serving Instagram-worthy food that will get you noticed.
Choose the right type of plate
Your choice of plate can play a big role in how your food looks when photographed. Not only will it determine how you serve your food, but it will act as both a frame and a background for your carefully selected ingredients.
You will need to think about what size of plate you need for the dishes on your menu. Remember that you need one big enough for the food to stand out, but not to the point where it begins to look lost. Be wary of plates that are too small as well, as they could make your portion sizes look measly.
When it comes to choosing a colour for your plates, you can’t go wrong with white. Their minimal look will ensure that your food is the main star of any photo, and they will really make the colour of your ingredients pop against their neutral backdrop.
Make sure you have the right tools for the job
As well as having the right plates, you will also need the right tools for the job if you really want to get creative with your dish presentation. For starters, you’ll want to make sure that your chef has access to a quality decorating brush for detailed line work and strokes when applying sauces or plating pures.
Your staff will need a set of moulds that will allow them to cut ingredients like rice, vegetables, and salads down to shape and size for a visually appealing plate organisation. They are essential for building up height and structure when stacking, too. You’ll also need a set of precision tongs for handling garnishes and delicate ingredients.
Learn to plate your food with style
When the time comes to plate your food, you need to create something with visual appeal. Aim to create an arrangement that makes full use of colour and contrast: pair up large and small foods, mix up soft and crunchy textures, and layer complementing shades. For an extra pop of colour, you can add accent ingredients, like bright vegetables or garnish, to your dish.
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As well as style tips, there are a few practical pointers you can use to create food that will appeal to your diners. A classic rule is to plate any moist ingredients first and anchor them with other foods to prevent them from moving around when in transit.
Another point is to serve odd quantities of food, as this can appear more visually appealing and create the impression that extra has been added.
Add an interactive element to capture attention
In recent years, Instagram has become a place to share video content, as well as photos, so it’s worth exploring opportunities to capitalise on this. A great way of doing so is by adding interactive elements to your dishes to give your diners something to capture on film.
This doesnt need to be too complex: serving sauces in a small jug or including any seasoning or garnishes in an accompanying jar can be enough to get your diners interacting. But, if you have some more ambitious ideas, don’t be afraid of trying them out.
Create your own Instagram presence
Before you unleash your dishes on your hungry diners, it’s a good idea to test how photogenic they actually are. There’s no better way of doing so than getting behind the camera and trying out some snaps, so why not get involved in Instagram yourself?
If you don’t already have one, creating an Instagram presence for your restaurant is a great way of getting publicity and interacting with potential customers. Not only that, but you can take some test shots using the exact app that your customers will be using to get an idea of whether your dishes are up to scratch.
Once you’re happy, you can share your favourite images to get your diners drooling.
I’d recommend reading this guide to Instagram success from Big Hospitality, as well as BBC Goodfood’s article on taking the best photos, both of which will give you a grounding to get started.
Take my five tips on board and you will be able to serve up delicious-looking dishes that will capture attention on Instagram. Then, you can look to get involved yourself and grow your online presence.
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