More than two-thirds of Australians’ dining choices are now being guided by restaurants they have seen on social media with ‘Instagramable’ dishes.
Research by online reservation platform OpenTable has revealed that Australians are increasingly turning to technology to help shape their dining experience.
About 65 per cent of diners take photos of their food to share on social media, while 31 per cent admitted to dining at a restaurant to order a particular dish they have seen online.
Almost half of Australians – 49 per cent – admitted they “check-in” at the restaurant venue.
However, when it came to fine dining, Australians were more likely to be on their best behaviour, with 57 per cent reporting they would “rarely or never” touch their phones, compared to 34 per cent at a fast food or pub-style venue.
Canadian-based Australian chef and food writer Mike Ward told The New Daily that while food is now firmly “part of our social status”, he expected it would gradually become less acceptable to use phones in restaurants, as it “defeats the purpose”.
“I think our interest in food will continue to grow but, at the same time, I think it will become less cool to pull out your phone,” he said.
“Independently telling the world what you’re eating defeats the purpose of dressing up and having a social dining experience.”
However, Mr Ward was excited that chefs like himself, who used to labour away anonymously in the kitchen, were at last gaining deserved recognition as a result of the ‘food porn’ social media craze.
He said the heightened interest in food online has impacted the food industry on the whole – not only restaurants, but also supermarkets.
“The world has become a lot smaller in terms of food,” he said.
“There’s greater awareness in what’s available, for example what some people might call ethnic foods.
“These have now become mainstay ingredients in the kitchen. People are open to new ingredients and new ideas.
“Where we eat and where we shop has become such a large part of our own personal brands and we like to share that.”
One of Australia’s most internationally respected pastry chefs Kirsten Tibballs, who has had multiple guest appearances on Network Ten’s popular cooking show MasterChef, said Facebook and Instagram were “always at the forefront” of her mind when creating a product.
“When we release a new product or innovative technique, it can be shared hundreds of times,” she told The New Daily.
“Photography has had an exceptional impact on hospitality. There are so many talented novice photographers that take art to whole new level, using food as their inspiration.
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“Consumers see a product or dish that they would like to experience on social media and they will often travel to try it firsthand.
“Nowadays, there is a huge emphasis on plating, styling and ensuring patrons have access to good lighting for images.”
Ms Tibballs said she believed the fascination has grown from cooking shows and the rise of chef profiles on television.
“Now when we create something and post an image it can go global instantly,” she said.
“There are celebrity chefs that have built their reputation and profile purely via social media.”