Over the summer, Caterer Middle East carried out its annual Caterer Middle East Head Chef Survey to gauge the general state of the industry in the region and find out what’s keeping chefs up at night. Now in its seventh year, the survey was conducted solely online and enabled chefs to anonymously discuss everything about their job, from which suppliers they like working with and how they use social media, to what originally inspired them to pursue a career as a chef.

Over the next few web pages, we will reveal some of our findings and bring you the chefs’ insights, alongside comments on these results from chefs working in region who were happy to go on the record.

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Social media

For the second consecutive year, we asked respondents about using social media in their professional capacity and which platforms they use. As with last year, Facebook took the lead by quite some distance, with 85.1% of chefs using it as part of their job. The second most used platform was LinkedIn at 59.6% and Instagram just a fraction behind at 57.4%.

Twitter was the next most popular, with 29.8% of chefs using it, leaving just 10.6% and 6.4% using Pinterest and Snapchat respectively.

A new question for this year’s survey, in response to both the growing use of social media and the growing number of options available, was why chefs choose one platform over another. One respondent said Facebook was best for sharing his ideas and experiences as a chef on a more personal level, while LinkedIn was the best way to present yourself professionally — a sentiment that was echoed by a number of other participants.

Another stated that the three most popular choices — Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram — are most frequently chosen because people “all around the world are familiar with these”, which makes it the simplest, most effective way to communicate and connect.

Sharing his approach, Tortuga head chef Oscar Rito tells Caterer Middle East: “Social media is all about real food, showing your roots and origin. I focus on sharing the history behind dishes to project the amazing country where I’m from (Mexico) and what Latin chefs are capable of creating,”

He says he prefers to use Instagram for this. “It is very effective and direct — straight messages, clear followers and worldwide exposure. For me it’s the best right now, even though there are specialist networking websites like The Staff Canteen or ChefsTalk, or even Twitter. Social media has a lot of reach and when managing the Tortuga account I always love to share food and stories with the community,” he adds.

Boca chef de cuisine Carlo Di Reda says he isn’t surprised that Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are the most popular in the region, and says they are the platforms he personally is most comfortable using. “I also feel that this is a feeling shared by the culinary community around me as well,” he comments.

In terms of how he uses social media, he reveals: “There is a lot of noise out there and there are a lot of chefs — everyone is posting about food. I use social media to promote my message, which is ‘we are what we eat’. I believe in sourcing local produce and spending more time developing the right products so consumers can have the ultimate satisfaction at the right price.”