Food for Thought

by Holyrood PR

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Written by Stuart Milne

What the meat-eoric rise of the celeb chef can tell us about PR

Artistic food presentation-Food and Drink PRIt seems like food is everywhere we turn at the moment.

The BBC Good Food Show Glasgow took place over the weekend, our client is hosting its very own bake-off, we had an impromptu cupcake delivery from a local bakery and then there’s the small matter of the less than favourable headlines regarding Bradley Cooper’s new chef flick ‘Burnt’ that’s sunk faster than an underwhipped and overfolded souffle.

At Holyrood Partnership we’re always hungry, so what better subject to write a blog on than food and what the industry can teach us about delivering great PR.

Taking Advantage of Succulent Success

First up to the plate is the importance of capitalising on what you do well. Public relations is all about exposing your brand to the right people in the right way.

This can be the difference between continued success and fading into obscurity regardless of your abilities and value to the field you’re in.

Take the cult of celebrity chefs. Far gone are the days of Ainsley Harriet’s friendly and easy to follow ready, steady, cook recipes. Now, we have the Michelin brigade with an altogether more refined kind of food programming.

Demonstrably, the likes of Edinburgh’s Tom Kitchin are better chefs than Ainsley and Gary Rhodes, but their success was built on a successful vehicle whether it was a gimmicky game show or, quite simply, having spiky hair. Even Jamie Oliver had ‘the Naked Chef’ persona before he turned to saving the world one canteen at a time.

A chef at work- Food and Drink PRKitchin, on top of being one of the finest chefs in the country, has carved out a supplementary career as a TV personality. Appearing on BBC and ITV shows regularly, where he is able to promote his own personal brand as well as new ventures.

In contrast, Andrew Fairlie is the only cook North of the Border to have attained the even more illustrious two star rating, but is a relative media unknown.

Fairlie’s food has been rated by the finest critics as the very best but appears unwilling or unable to make that count in terms of PR. Kitchin is instantly likeable and has turned his persona into a more far-reaching success than Fairlie, purely by pushing his brand.

A PR strategy can make or break you and, in the fiercely competitive restaurant trade, that can make all the difference.

Gastronomic Theatrics

Food and fine dining has become increasingly flashy over recent years. King of the theatrical heap is undoubtedly The Fat Duck’s Heston Blumenthal. After having his kitchen voted the best in the world in 2005 the Blumenthal brand has gone from strength to strength.

With regular programmes on Channel 4 and countless cookbooks, franchises and newspaper articles penned by and about him, he is a walking example of how showing off can get you noticed.

Artistic food presentation- Food and Drink PRConsistently pulling larger audiences (3.2 million) than stalwarts Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith (both 2.3 million), who appear on the BBC, this success can be pinned to the outlandish nature of his creations.

Heston’s Feasts regularly involve large scale constructions or one dish masquerading as another whereas Delia and Nigella stick to the trusted ‘here’s how’ method with varying levels of sexuality.

Adding a dash of drama to your business can ramp up the hits and views. Doing something different can make you stand out, and standing out is what it’s all about.

Looking Good Enough to Eat

‘All skin and bone’ is no compliment, so make sure there’s plenty of meat on the bones of any campaign you orchestrate.

Photos are a huge selling point when it comes to getting coverage in papers and magazines, but beware, use a professional or you will get your fingers burned.


see our photo blog for further tips


The myriad of dangers of bad photography are heightened when photographing food.

Sparkling white plates produce glare and throw off white balance, time is even more limited as ingredients wilt and sink, and highlighting often drab colours is tough when your snapping meat (brown), gravy (brown), Yorkshire pudding (brown), roast potatoes (brown), stuffing (brown)…I think I’ve made my point…

Chef PRMost of all food photography shines a light on the need for a level of expertise to get the best out of your product.

Using a proven professional like our award winning snapper of choice, Wullie Marr, removes all the worry and results in a vast library of pics that be used repeatedly by us and our clients.

Professionals like Wullie know how to set up, shoot and edit so that every bite of publicity is as palatable as possible, so if you’ve gone to the effort of creating a top menu to go with your top brand, don’t ruin it by cheaping out on the images – (It’s an all too common mistake.)


Our Award Winning agency can cook you up a Food and Drink PR storm.

We’d love you to join the long list of clients who’ve improved profits and sovled other problems through powerful storytelling with help of the experts here at Holyrood PR.

Give us a call at any time on 0131 561 2244 or take a few seconds to fill in the simple form, below, and we’ll get straight back to you.

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