How to be the “celebrity chef” of your niche

I am secretly addicted to the Food Network. (Okay, not so secretly anymore).

I love cooking competitions and restaurant makeover shows. My PVR is set up to automatically record shows like “Opening Soon”, “Kitchen Nightmares”, and “Restaurant Impossible”.

Many of these shows have one thing in common: A celebrity chef who seems to be equal parts chef and diva.

You don’t really see this level of celebrity in other niches. (Well, there are some celebrity real estate agents and celebrity home renovation people but we don’t attach the word “celebrity” to their title in the same way that we throw around the word “celebrity chef”.)

I was thinking about this the other day while watching some cooking show or another. I wondered: “Why don’t we see more celebrity real estate agents or celebrity real estate investors or celebrity financial advisors or celebrity accountants?

That idea sort of seems strange. After all, “celebrity accountant” or “celebrity actuary” or “celebrity insurance broker” doesn’t seem to have the same ring as “celebrity chef”… but why not?

Why can’t YOU be the celebrity in your niche? There is plenty of room for celebrities in a number of niches – real estate, investing, insurance, accounting, even collections.

The benefit is there: As a celebrity, you attract people to you who want to orbit your shining star and your constant cross-promotion helps to increase your income.

So what does it take to be a celebrity? Well, let’s look at the six factors that put the “celebrity” into “celebrity chef” and see if we can identify some lessons for you to apply to your practice:

6 FACTORS TO HELP YOU BECOME A CELEBRITY IN YOUR NICHE

  1. You need to be skilled. No hacks allowed. We may not always like the celebrity personality of a celebrity chef but the chef-skills always deliver. Great cooking every time. And it’s not just skill, I think, but also mastery, and a dedication to exacting excellence. How can you become a skilled master who is dedicated to exacting excellence in your market? You need to be able to rise above and consistently out-shine your peers. So what skills can you hone to consistently out-shine your peers? For a related post, check out: What the drunk uncle from Family Ties can teach us about success.
  2. Success. Some celebrity chefs seem to come out of nowhere to skyrocket to fame and fortune. But “nowhere” usually means that they were slogging it out in a hot kitchen, working their way up from lowly dishwasher to become the head chef at top-name restaurants. In your practice, don’t expect celebrity to suddenly appear out of nowhere. You need to put in the time, grind it out, and build a portfolio of success. (Fortunately, you can do this as the same time as you develop your skills).
  3. You need to have some flair. I don’t think there is such a thing as a bland celebrity chef. All celebrity chefs bring something extra to the equation. They’re skilled (see above) but they are more than just skilled. For some, it’s a personality – funny, obnoxious, in-your-face. For others, it’s a particular style or approach – hands-on, innovative, social. (For celebrity chefs it might be fast meals for families or Italian peasant food). To develop your own flair, consider what aspects of your personality are the strongest, or think about your interests and how other people connect with them. This flair or unique approach really becomes the crux of your brand. (Think: Gordon Ramsay’s In-Your-Face approach or Jamie Oliver’s casual approach to delicious, healthy food). I’ve talked a bit about this in the past but I’ve only scratched the surface. For a related post, check out: What is your brand’s personality.
  4. A book. Every celebrity chef seems to have at least one book. Probably a cookbook. Probably a dozen cookbooks. A book on its own isn’t the answer but it’s part of the celebrity equation. The good news is, you don’t need to sit down and write a huge novel. What you need is something that you can highlight as an accomplishment and that readers will find helpful. Start with a 100 to 200 page book. They aren’t that hard to write! (Hey, give me a call if you want to talk about writing a book). If you’re really not sure where to start, why not think about an ebook – something smallish at around 50 pages – and test it in the marketplace. Expanding it will be easy and it’s simple to turn into a print book (which still carries plenty of credibility).
  5. TV show. Every celebrity chef has a TV show. Or three. They have a cooking show and guest appearances, an I’m-starting-a-restaurant show, and a traveling-the-world-to-taste-food show. Why don’t you have a show? You can. It’s easier than you probably think it is. Start with your own YouTube channel and instead of just filming random thoughts into the camera (as I do from time to time on my YouTube channel), actually treat it like your own show. I think this is a cool idea that is under-used (especially in the financial or real estate space). There are plenty of ideas to draw from (and I’ll give you some ideas in a future blog post).
  6. PR Campaign. Celebrity chefs seem to be magnets for fans. Sure, it’s their charisma and great dishes but don’t overlook the fact that they are a brand and they probably have a serious PR engine chugging away in the background. When they are not cooking they are promoting, promoting, promoting, promoting, promoting. For most of you, you’re already doing some promoting already (good!) but if you want to achieve celebrity status, you need to tie together several things (a book, a show, etc.) and promote the heck out of it.

Notice something about these six things? Chefs who move out of the kitchen and into the limelight do so by leveraging their skills into a brand and then leveraging that brand into a media empire.

You can do the same! Celebrity doesn’t have to be limited to chefs. There is A LOT of room for celebrities in your market. You already have the skills and you probably have a brand (or the makings of one). Next, build a media empire to skyrocket your practice to celebrity status.

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