Published on July 9, 2019, at 8:52 a.m.
by Gabby DiCarlo.
Food is the perfect public relations tool because it can be so representative of a culture, organization and values, just by being itself.
Your phone buzzes and you look over to see the black Netflix logo pop up on your lock screen with a new notification, “Recommended for you: ‘Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown.'” You don’t have to meet your friends for dinner for another hour, so you flip through to a random episode and start season 4, episode 6. Bourdain is in Iran, and you watch as he glides through the culture with ease, stopping to visit with locals in their home for a Persian meal. You wonder about experiencing this yourself, only to realize all the roadblocks that stand between you and a trip to Iran.
The episode ends, and you leave to meet friends at an Eastern fusion restaurant. After watching an episode of “Parts Unknown,” you become inspired to step past the tikka masala and order a Persian stew. Many of the ingredients are foreign to you, but you try the stew anyway. You changed your perspective and actions based on one episode of a docu-series. You allowed your thoughts and habits to be changed based on food — it’s quite interesting. Bourdain’s love for food and culture helped break down your walls, and maybe now you’ll start to love Persian food, too.
The new coffee shop down the street makes the most beautiful latte art. It also sells gluten-free doughnuts from a local bakery outside of your city, a partnership cultivated out of a shared love for products and customers. You whip out your phone to snap a picture of the handcrafted latte and gluten-free doughnut for your Instagram story because you want to show the world that you are enjoying coffee on a Saturday morning. You add the location sticker of the coffee shop and tag both the bakery and coffee shop so your friends can visit their profiles and learn more about where you got this beautiful coffee and doughnut combo because it’s so heart eyes emoji.
You took it upon yourself to show off organizations and their products to those you know while serving your own needs — they just received free PR. Based on your social post, one of your followers may change coffee shops and now recommend this one to friends, all because you wanted to share its beautiful food.
Food helps to convey more than its physical purpose. Food is a vehicle for culture, ideas, passion, art and more. This makes it the ultimate representation tool. It can stand for so much, yet be so simple. Everyone loves to see “food porn” of gooey cheese pulls and a bowl of spaghetti being spun in a humongous wheel of aged parmesan. The flip side of beautiful food is that which tastes delicious, but looks — well — ugly.
Chef and restaurateur David Chang hosts “Ugly Delicious,” a Netflix docu-series highlighting ugly, yet delicious foods from around the world. Chang, accompanied by guests such as Aziz Ansari, Jimmy Kimmel, Nick Kroll and world-renowned chefs, delves into the culture and meaning behind such cuisine. Each food can show the history and love of whoever makes it, along with the cultural values, local ingredients and socio-economic status.
Food can be easily changed and framed to fit a purpose, whether it be art, sustenance or a livelihood. That’s why it’s the ultimate PR tool.