These days, everybody has a celebrity chef. Carnival Cruises has Guy Ferri. Royal Caribbean brought on Jamie Oliver. Curtis Stone inked a deal with Princess Cruises. And just about every major hotel on the Las Vegas Strip has a restaurant featuring a celebrity chef. The thing is, resorts have been doing this for a lot longer. So why do resorts hire celebrity chefs?
Why Do Resorts Hire Celebrity Chefs? We’ve come up with four basic reasons:
In the last decade, thanks to shows like Master Chef, Kitchen Nightmares and just about every show on Food Network, cooking has gone from the realm of necessary for survival to a must-see event. Social media and YouTube are flooded with people showing off their skills or even (in the case of YouTube) viewers watching other people eat the food they’ve prepared. If you’ve never heard of it, simply search “mukbang”. You’ll have videos to watch for days if you’re into that.
All of this shows there is an audience for cooking. And particularly for celebrity chefs. Once a chef becomes a household name, that person has a huge following. Hence, when a resort hires a celebrity chef or adds one of their restaurants to the property, it by default gives the resort media attention. And that media attention is important for the next point.
Because the chef’s name is attached to the restaurant either in the name of the restaurant or that he is the head chef or owns it, that chef is going to make sure to get the word out. He or she already has a following on social media and television. So when the chef talks about the new endeavor, the name of the resort gets embedded into the consciences of that chef’s followers.
And when they appear on something like a Food Network competition show, during the introduction of the chef, the host will always mention where this chef is active. That turns out to be free advertising for the resort. Which leads to the next topic….
This is really the ultimate goal for the resort hiring celebrity chefs.
Once the resort has a celebrity chef associated with the property, that chef’s followers will want to experience his/her creations. Because we’re talking about celebrity chefs at resorts, the only way the followers will get an opportunity to experience the chef’s creations first hand is to book at least one night at the resort.
The upside for the resort is that the fan will come primarily for the meal. Once they experience the resort, there is a strong chance that the person will return for a longer stay. Essentially, having a celebrity chef works a lot like Groupon. With Groupon, a person is lured in by the discount. After trying the food, the discover they really like the menu. After that, the person comes even if they don’t have a discount.
The same is true for resorts and celebrity chefs. After a person comes just to experience the culinary creation, the rest of the time they are at the resort will be spent enjoying the facilities. After a spa treatment, some time spent in the pool or the ocean, snorkeling, and a good night’s sleep on a comfortable bed, that might be enough to make a person book an even longer stay at the property.
Cooking Has Become a Sport
A few years back, Food Network aired a commercial with boxers wearing whole chickens on their fists instead of boxing gloves. The point was to highlight the cooking competitions that were becoming popular on the network. At that time, most of the shows on Food Network were focused on instructional cooking.
A quick scan of the programming guide shows that today, almost every show is a cooking competition. And many of them feature celebrity chefs. Cooking has become like football or basketball. Chefs are followed on social media like quarterbacks. People want their autographs. And those followers will take every opportunity to see their favorite chef.
By having a resort with a celebrity chef, not only will the property be mentioned every time the chef’s name is brought up, but it can potentially open up another opportunity related to the competitive nature of modern cooking.
To mix things up, a cooking competition might host an episode or even a special run of the program at a resort. This will likely happen at resorts where relationships have already been established.
Resorts with Celebrity Chefs
By now, you’re probably asking where these resorts are with celebrity chefs. And you might even be wondering how famous or popular these chefs are.
We won’t leave you waiting any longer. Here is a list that is by no means exhaustive of resorts with celebrity chefs.
Bobby Flay is the cornerstone of Food Network. Many of the cooking competitions feature him. One of note is “Beat Bobby Flay”. I highlight this program because it’s where chefs get acknowledged for their creations at their restaurants.
Giada De Laurentiis is famous for her take on Italian favorites with the California twist she prepares on her various Food Network shows. She brings that unique take to Pronto by Giada in Caesars Palace.
The dishes Pronto serves up are much like what you see on Giada’s Food Network shows. Think lobster roll and grilled cheese, fresh-pressed paninis and her famous lemon ricotta cookies.
Do you have a favorite celebrity chef? Perhaps one that doesn’t get the attention that some on this list have received? We’d like to hear about them. Leave a comment below and share with the community which chef you like and what they specialize in.
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