Private Chefs Are Celebrities Now Thanks to TikTok

Private Chefs Are Celebrities Now Thanks to TikTok

Miami-based chef Karen Rosenbloom similarly thinks that her TikTok personality has driven clients to chef Isaac Perlman’s private chef business, where she works, and resulted in brand deals with companies like Mission Foods. In her videos under the handle @karens_cooking, she vlogs herself grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, and plating for clients, also filming on her off days what she eats in a day.

“It allows people to really not only see who I am as a chef, but to see who I am as a person,” she says.

“What people like is the journey,” says Deji Babatunde, a private chef based in the United Kingdom who posts on TikTok as @mr__dcd. Babatunde was initially hesitant to join TikTok, relying primarily on his website and previous clients to drive interest to his business. But some advised him that TikTok’s level of access was “totally different,” he says.

Even more, taking viewers behind the curtain of a job can demystify it, showing viewers that even they can hire a private chef for just one day or just one event, says chef Bradley Exius.

It debunks a common misconception about the private chef: that it’s a service available only to the upper echelons and gated from the rest. “We’re showing that, yes, it is definitely an exclusive experience, but it’s reachable to anyone,” says Exius, who posts as @souledout_chef.

Each chef has seen their DMs flood with requests from prospective clients; Ruben says that this year, for the first time, all of her regular clients were sourced from social media.

But while the barriers to entry and ultimate success may be lower on TikTok, they’re far from level. TikTok’s notoriously image-based algorithm has been frequently accused of foregrounding certain looks and faces—namely, those of white creators—over others.

Moïse, who is Black, was early to the trend, but she has since seen other creators eclipse her in visibility and name recognition. She suspects she hasn’t grown as quickly because of her race, and it’s frustrating. “Although my platform and my content is fantastic, it’s never going to reach the levels that I want it to,” Moïse says.

Black creators have long alleged that the platform’s algorithm shadow-bans their content or deliberately hides it from user feeds. In response to an Insider report on the issue, a TikTok spokesperson said that the For You Page is not intentionally programmed to discriminate against content created by any one creator.

Moïse is still hopeful that, as TikTok creators like herself make more visible the career path of the private chef, the industry at large will begin to slowly democratize—both for young professionals in the culinary realm and for consumers outside of it who can utilize their services. “The fact that [I and my colleagues] are blowing up as personal private chefs,” Moïse says, “is fantastic for my industry.”

Some young chefs who have reached out to Moïse didn’t know they could pursue this career without going to culinary school, she says. “They had no idea they could do it on their own. And they had no idea that you can even do it and market yourself, promote yourself as your own entity.”

The other creators are equally optimistic about the platform’s potential to reshape the boundaries of the industry and who is able to participate in it. Hayden advises any young culinary hopeful to toy with TikTok as a career advancement tool, even if becoming a private chef isn’t their ultimate goal.

“Just kind of throw spaghetti at the wall when it comes to social media and see what sticks,” Hayden says, “and just have fun.”

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