I spend a lot of time on social media, much of it on behalf of APPCA. I started to notice a lot of interesting tweets coming from an APPCA member, Angela Capanna of Eat Your Heart Out Edibles. She serves South Jersey, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The tweets are engaging and fun. She clearly knows what she’s doing. So I asked her to share her strategy and approach. She generously has–and I hope she inspires you to do more and do it thoughtfully as part of your marketing strategy.

My website is the primary source of new leads for my business, Eat Your Heart Out, and social media has become a significant driver of traffic there – as well as direct inquiries, I might add. As a busy chef, I operate on the KISS principle (keep it short and simple!)…I use two main channels – Facebook and Instagram (eatyourheartoutedibles). I have Facebook set up to auto-post to Twitter (@EYHOEdibles) – two for the price of one! LOL).

I make sure to stay consistent with posting timing; I post by 10 a.m. and again between 5-7 p.m. daily. If I have time, I’ll do a third post in afternoon. That allows me to catch followers’ attention no matter what time of day they’re on social media. Another point of consistency is that I always use certain hashtags with every post. I do roughly the same posts on Facebook and Instagram, modifying if needed for format.

In terms of content, of course the majority of my posts have to do with meals that I am cooking, or recent catering events – always with at least one picture. (Here’s my Grilled Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa Salad.)

I also try to post something “personal” a few times a week, as that really engages followers. (I have read studies on this, and I find this to be true with people I follow). Overall, with everything I post I try to represent my brand image. What I mean by “brand image” is that I like to keep my posts mostly about food/cooking/personal cheffing/catering, with a few personal posts about me – but never about politics, current events, etc. I always try to keep anything too personal off my EYHOE social media so that whatever I post ultimately points back to my business – food and cooking. I guess you could say that my brand image is one of a creative, somewhat adventurous, chef who takes food, but not herself, seriously.

One approach that I have found to generate a lot of “engagement” is my “Name that Food” game, where I post an unusual picture of a food, and ask my followers to identify it. I also suggest that they like and share the post to get their friends in on the fun – which can result in more followers for me! Then I post the answer, usually the next day, with a “normal” picture of the food, replying to/tagging the commenters to keep them involved. Here’s a close-up of a “Rambutan”, the edible fruit of a tree from Southeast Asia.

Once the prickly skin is peeled away, the fruit reveals a sweet and juicy flesh, with bitter seeds found in the center. The second picture is “the big reveal.”

I also use social media to promote my blog, “Annie’s Anecdotes.” Whenever I have a new blog post, I will post a lead-in and link to the blog on Facebook and Instagram, to generate blog readership.

While making these posts does take a certain amount of my time, I def think it is worth that investment. I love engaging/getting personal with my followers on social media. The best part of social media is the engagement with followers! After all, I am a “personal chef”! love going back and forth with them; their comments are often insightful.

Chefs, are you active on social media? What is your strategy? How’s it working?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Angela Rose

So, you’ve just launched your personal chef business and eager to recruit clients. What do you do when a boxer’s trainer calls up to inquire about your cooking for him while he’s training for a big fight? Oh, and he’s gluten free and vegan.

This was Angela Rose Capanna’s first client as a personal chef. The trainer called her to set up a meeting and, “I was scared to death to meet with him,” she recalls with a laugh. “He’s gluten free and vegan, yet he needs to have a lot of protein, which is very hard to do. I met with him, then went home and did a lot of research and reached out to nutritionists I knew.”

What seemed so intimidating worked out just fine. Turns out the boxer did eat some fish, so Angela developed recipes with salmon and tilapia, along recipes for dishes with beans, nuts, and seeds. She incorporated protein powders into baked goods. In fact, although she isn’t cooking for him anymore, he called recently to ask her to teach him how to make the vegan chocolate cake she used to bake for him. She’s planning on creating a video demo of it for YouTube.

Angela, who lives in Turnsville, New Jersey, launched her business, Eat Your Heart Out Edibles, when she was about 20 years old. She had been in college studying nutrition but didn’t really love it. “I had always waitressed to earn money for school, but I knew I didn’t want that kind of lifestyle. And with the new business I did baking and some catering. But you have to do a lot of baking to earn a living.”

So, two-and-a-half years ago, she decided to do some research and googled “culinary jobs.” It brought her to the APPCA and some other sites. Not knowing anything about personal chefs she kept on researching. Then she picked up the phone and called the APPCA and got me.

“You were so sweet,” says Angela. “You took an hour-and-a-half to talk to me and you didn’t even know who I was. I told you I always liked to cook and am always cooking for family and friends, but had no training. You said if you have the passion you can make it work. I was worried no one would hire me, but you assured me that if I did a good job for clients, word of mouth would spread. And that if I felt unsure of my knife skills or other technical skills, I could take classes.”

Angela went on to take our two-day training to learn how to run a personal chef business. She acknowledges having felt overwhelmed by the end because she knew she had a lot of work ahead of her, “but it was so appealing to me that I plowed forward. The first year was slow, but this September it will be three years and I’m so happy! Not only did the APPCA teach me how to run my personal chef business, but it helped me better understand how to run and grow the baking and catering component of it, too.”

With two Italian grandmothers who cooked, as well as parents and siblings, Angela clearly comes honestly by her cooking passion. “I’ve loved to cook my entire life. My mom would let me do the menu planning for the family for the week. Every Saturday we always had homemade pizza. And, when I started my business my different family members compiled family recipes for me.”

Caprese Bites

Caprese Bites

Shrimp Pesto Lollipops

Shrimp Pesto Lollipops

Today, Angela is known in her community for her small plates and bite-sized appetizers and desserts, which she loves to serve at special events and catering gigs.

Dessert Shooters

Dessert Shooters

But for her personal chef clients, her cooking style runs across the board. “It seems that I’m hired because of my eagerness to please them,” she says. “I really cook to each person’s individual needs. I’ll change recipes to give them what they want.”

She explains that no two clients are the same. One eats paleo. Another family is vegan and gluten free. Still another loves traditional foods. And, for one family with a handicapped adult daughter, she’ll cook for them with the daughter to teach her kitchen skills.

Angela’s inspiration comes from her clients. When she meets with them for assessments, she reviews what their dietary restrictions are and then ask what they love to eat. Maybe their dream meal is chicken parmesan, but they can’t eat dairy or are gluten free. “I’ll go home and try to figure out how to recreate the dish around their dietary needs. So, instead of parmesan cheese, I’ll make a mock cheese and use spinach with the ‘cheese’ to stuff the chicken. Instead of bread crumbs, I’ll mix together almond and coconut flour. It’s not exactly the same, but it will give them a delicious approximation of what they were asking for, only with diet-friendly ingredients.

Chicken Edamame Stir Fry served over "Riced" Cauliflower. "I use cauliflower to take the place of heavy, carb-laden rice."

Chicken Edamame Stir Fry served over “Riced” Cauliflower. “I use cauliflower to take the place of heavy, carb-laden rice.”

“My thing is that you’re eating this food and what you put in your body is super important so that it will function for you. It’s not like I’m fixing your washing machine. This is your health and I’ll do whatever you need.”

At age 26, Angela’s business is thriving, yet she still has dreams of expansion. She’s learning how to manage her business and delegate. Her sister does some of her grocery shopping. Family also helps out with serving at catering gigs. Her mom is a terrific baker and helps with that, and as a former professional photographer, shoots promotional photos of Angela. A family friend helps with social media and press releases. And she’s hired a bookkeeper. Eventually, she hopes her best friend, who is just graduating from culinary school, will join her in her business.

Salmon Orange Vin

Salmon Orange Vin

“You have to love what you’re doing because it’s a lot of hard work,” she says. “My dad always told me, ‘Find what you love to do first and then learn how to make money doing it.’ That’s what I did.”

For those contemplating taking the same route, Angela says don’t say no to anything. “Educate yourself and then just do it. Practice doing a cooking week for family or friends to get comfortable with the amount of work you’re going to do and the process. Practice with others to be confident when doing assessments. I used to be so nervous but I like doing them now. Remember that nine times out of 10 the people who are hiring you like to eat good food but don’t know how to make it themselves. They’re so happy that you know how to cook and that you’re taking that stress away from them.”

What lessons have you learned from being a personal chef? What questions do you have about becoming one?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

 

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