TORONTO — At yesterday’s 10th annual Terroir Symposium in Toronto, Canadian ex-pats turned New York City Etsy gurus Maya Bruck and Aaron Paas took their audience on a virtual dos-and-don’ts industry tour of how restauranteurs can best communicate and reach their digital audience.
“Knowing your eater is critical,” said Paas, adding there are four key points all restaurants should take heed to via their websites. “A good mission statement, summary, language and consistency, are all needed attributes for any restaurants in today’s digital world.”
“An online brand is a living thing,” Bruck said, explaining that restaurants’ websites should keep it simple while looking the part to suit their own individual brand. “Know your eater, make it easy, be yourself and keep it fresh,” she said. Bruck added that in this industry, the average restaurant’s website lifespan should be about three-to-five years — any older and the restaurant is not keeping it fresh.
The dynamic duo delved into how complicated ‘making-it-easy’ can be, emphasizing how important details such as font size, menu and price placements should be prominent, easy-to-find features on all industry websites. “Restaurants are known for not having the best websites,” Bruck said. “Put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for a restaurant,” she continued as she hammered home the importance of the need to have an easy-to-navigate website while reminding the audience that PDFs and images will not scale-to-screen on mobile devices.
The pair stressed since 75 per cent of mobile users access restaurants-on-the-go, restaurateurs should keep in mind that easy-to-find and easy-to-navigate websites should also be very mobile friendly as this will play a major part in the industry’s future.
The Impact of Globalization on the Restaurant Industry
Italian-Brazilian writer and chef Luciana Bianchi spoke to attendees about the technological impact globalization has had on the restaurant, agricultural and food industry throughout the world.
“The world-wide-web became a catalyst in the global food community,” she said. “The kitchen greatly benefited from the advancement of technology.”
But while the restaurant world has benefited from greater communication and better technology, which allows chefs to share their ideas and recipes with someone on the other side of the planet and utilize advanced appliances to better hone their skills and abilities, Bianchi warned the rise in technology and information-sharing has shined a light into the darker corners of the industry — animal cruelty, land grabbing in the undeveloped world as well as forced labour. While she explained her passion for food, she asked the audience if making a great meal for some is worth the suffering of others.
Reaching a Crossroads
Award-winning and world-renowned foodie photographer Penny De Los Santos took her audience on a vibrant digital journey showcasing her food-related travels.
She explained whether you’re shooting in the Amazon, India or British Columbia, the best ways to get the most out your pictures remains constant. “Colours, composition, light and the moment itself are integral aspects for any picture,” she said.
De Los Santos shared pictures from her globe-trotting adventures and recalled being held at gunpoint in Senegal while on assignment; and how she ditched her guide while on India’s highly volatile Silk Road so she could get the most authentic pictures possible. She was also lucky enough to shoot an underground non-licensed restaurant in East Los Angeles which was owned and operated by an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Penny explained that while she still takes the odd commercial gig, her passion is food photography. She offered the audience one final piece of advice; “The best food photography is about nuance, intuition and instinct”, she said.