A Conversation with Chef Graham Elliot
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At age 27, Chef Graham Elliot became the youngest Four Star Chef to be named in any major U.S. city and was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2004. He now owns three critically acclaimed restaurants in Chicago: Graham Elliot, which garnered one Michelin star in 2011 and 2012 and was the site chosen for an intimate dinner party for President Obama this year, Grahamwich, and the new g.e.b.
In addition to appearing on Iron Chef and two seasons of the popular show “Top Chef Masters,” Graham co-stars alongside Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich in the FOX series “MasterChef,” which is now in its third season and has appeared on such broadcasts as Access Hollywood, Nightline, Good Morning America, and The Today Show among others. He rose to Twitter fame with his entertaining and enlightening online observations, and uses social media as a strong vehicle for keeping in touch with fans and foodies alike.
Q: How did you first get involved with Social Media?
A: I’ve been a part of Twitter for 3 1/2 years and have been promoting what the restaurants do, as well as random thoughts and so forth, ever since.
Q: I understand you’re big on tweeting. What does Twitter do for you from a business perspective?
A: From a business perspective it allows me to communicate directly with our existing audience, as well as show others what we are all about and what we offer.
Q: How about personally?
A: Personally, it provides a platform for me to discuss topics as varied as music, politics, cooking, religion etc.
Q: What was your “ah-ha moment” with social media?
A: When I wrote “f*ck chicago magazine” which set off a firestorm of everything from support to intense criticism, but showed that a chef or artist or anyone that wears their heart on their sleeve can fight back and defend themselves rather than take things lying down.
(Chef Elliot sent the above tweet when one of Chicago Magazine’s writers reviewed mini-food samples for Lollapalooza last year—Elliot is Culinary Director of the 3-day music fest in Chicago.)
Q: How do you measure success in social media? Have you seen a direct impact on your business as a result of using social media?
A: The way I measure success is by the response I get to my posts, increased traffic to our restaurants, and number of followers. Currently I’m at over 35K so perhaps I’m entertaining enough, as people seem to be listening.
Q: Do you feel a responsibility to your social media ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ to keep it interesting and current?
A: I’m trying to keep people interested, as this is not just business, but represents me as an individual.
Q: Have you ever gotten into trouble with a tweet or a post?
A: Yes. Please see above.
Q: What was the strangest tweet you ever got from someone?
A: There’s too many to mention. Everything from please help open a restaurant, to people tweeting they hope I die of a heart attack.
Q: What advice would you give to people who are just jumping into the social media world?
A: Worry less about trying to please people and more about letting your own personality, business, etc. come across. Being genuine tends to get more attention than anything else.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add about social media in general that I haven’t asked here?
A: Social media is constantly evolving and its important for everyone to stay ahead of it, or else you’ll be left behind.
Suzie Galler, Muse Entertainment, LLC
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