“It’s almost like dinner and a show,” Wong says of the growing trend of Instagram-focused foods. “These plates are a performance now. The plate doesn’t just come to your table, there has to be some sort of interaction with it.”
So, Is Cooking for Instagram a Smart Move for Restaurants?
While the buzz created by a wild-looking dish can definitely be a big win for a restaurant or food truck, especially for newcomers, there are also potential downsides to the ‘Gram game. “It depends on what type of food business that you want to start,” Wong explains. For a spot like Raindrop Cake, which specializes in one or two dishes, tapping into the power of viral visuals can really help. Restaurants with an extensive and diverse menu, on the other hand, may get pigeonholed if they’re only recognized for a singular, Instagram-worthy dish.
Whether it’s the eatery's one and only offering, or a new dish aimed at bringing in new customers, there’s also the risk of Instagram fatigue. After all, there’s only so many times you can double-tap on that crazy new creation, before you get bored of seeing it in your feed. “People do get tired of them,” Wong continues. “I think there’s a limited shelf life if you focus on one item. It’s like diversifying stocks: if you focus too much on one item, eventually you’ll run out of people who want to try it. And then you need another hit item, and that becomes a very difficult model to sustain if you’re just trying to turn out one hit after another.”