If you’re not listening to podcasts, you’re late to the party. According to National Public Radio, NPR podcast downloads for shows like Up First and Planet Money skyrocketed from 5.4 million in 2017 to 7.1 million in 2018.
For chefs, podcasts have also become a way to achieve a more targeted interaction with the dining public, because the most effective podcasts are specific to a topic. Consider that there are nearly half a billion blogs and just 700,000 podcasts, yet there are nearly one hundred million people listening to them on Apple, NPR, and iHeartRadio alone.
Eric Chiappetta, host of the popular podcast Chef or Death, began sharing his thoughts through a vlog. He switched to audio because video production can be tedious and time consuming, but Chiappetta also learned the listener numbers were better for podcasts than video.
“I always wanted a talk show because my heroes were David Letterman and Johnny Carson,” says Chiappetta, who named the podcast in honor of Eddie Izard and a play on the ‘give me liberty or death’ phrase.
As for the kind of conversations Chiappetta wants to foster, he sees the food and beverage world as its own planet. Nothing is off limits, and everything is relevant.
“We want to include everyone from pastry chefs to wine makers, restaurateurs to real estate people who help chefs find property, and everyone in between,” says Chiappetta, who has devoted significant podcast time to mental health and addiction issues rampant in the chef community. Chiappetta kick-started the show when Anthony Bourdain died.
“I took his death to heart and he was a hero to me, so I said, we have to do this – we have to start a conversation,” says Chiappetta. “We started the show for and about food and beverage entrepreneurs with the mindset of getting all of these smart, talented and successful people on the show as a resource.”
Chiappetta is especially excited about reaching young chefs before they make mistakes they can’t take back.
“Early in your career, you don’t really know at that point what your soul wants to do and age distills down what you want,” says Chiappetta, who wakes up to emails every morning from people who listened to the show and identified with the topic. “Food and beverage is a lifestyle, not a nine-to-five where you do what you want on the weekends.”
The Colorado chef was awarded an Insight Award for Outstanding Media Professional from the Colorado Restaurant Association, which he says came as a complete surprise. Podcasting has helped Chiappetta grow his brand in a short amount of time.
“This summer was filled with appearances and judging events, plus fundraising events, including one for We Don’t Waste, during which people came up and mentioned my podcasts – so I am honored to have stumbled into it,” says Chiappetta, whose next step is seeking growth expansion, branching out to reach an even bigger audience.
Chiappetta’s podcasts have done more than just help him professionally.
“We tell people’s stories, internalize them, and use the advice we receive to show people that they are not alone,” says Chiappetta, who doesn’t charge or pay anyone to be on his show. “Before this, I was only looking out for how the decisions I made only benefitted me, but I took a hard look at myself and what I could give.”
Chiappetta remains humbled at what can happen. He fields frequent offers to partner or go back to being an executive chef again, but the show and how it is helping others has become his primary focus.
“Once you decide to do something that’s bigger than yourself, it changes you,” he says. “This show is bigger than I am or ever will be.” [Read more…]