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Small business in the time of Coronavirus: The Chefs Advocate

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Annette Davidson owns The Chefs Advocate, a PR and Marketing firm dedicated to chefs and their restaurants. She uses her years of experience with food product marketing and small and emerging brands to provide her services to industry professionals all around the world.

Annette Davidson, owner of The Chefs Advocate and Kitchen Talk Live

Q: Were you still able to operate your business after your initial local shutdown?

A: With the culinary industry decimated by the shutdown, it was challenging engaging chefs and industry professionals about the services I offered. The solution I found was through the launch of my IG program ‘Kitchen Talk Live’. By launching KTL, I was able to connect with chefs, beverage professionals and other industry professionals (local and international), learn how they’re coping, the steps they’re taking to stay positive and their plans to emerge from the pandemic on the positive side. This was my way of showing that ‘we’re all in this together’. I was able to shift to an online format. The original format for Kitchen Talk LIVE was to meet chefs, et al in their natural habitats (kitchen, bar, shopping for ingredients, etc.), but it was launched virtually on Instagram instead.

Q: How do you feel it went?

A: Kitchen Talk LIVE is proving to be successful so far and with NYC slowly reopening, I’ve shifted focus to all members of the food & beverage industry (caterers, small & emerging food producers, urban farmers to name a few).

Q: Is there anything that didn’t quite work?

A: Apart from the usual internet connectivity challenges and the Instagram gods not wanting to cooperate, all seems to be working thus far.

Q: What did you hear from customers about changes to the business?

A: Since premiering Kitchen Talk LIVE, I’ve been receiving emails, DM’s and calls wanting information on how they can participate on KTL. Honestly, I never expected the attention in such a short space of time.

Q: What phase of reopening is your county/city currently in?

A: NYC has entered is Phase 4 of reopening. Still malls and indoor dining for restaurants and bars are not allowed to open for regular business. I’m still praying that this will happen soon.

Q: How are you utilizing social media to support reopening?

A: I’m utilizing social media to the maximum for the promotion of our program and the promotion of our chefs and partners.

Q: Do you have a contingency plan for if your state rolls back reopening phases?

A: We’ve begun taping (in person) Kitchen Talk LIVE series for launch on our YouTube channel. Each episode will feature a chef, mixologist or small food producer sharing their experiences, doing a cooking/mixology demo. If we’re forced into a ‘second shelter in place’, then it’s back to Plan A which was going LIVE on Instagram and post to IGTV.

Q: What advice would you give a business like yours as they work through reopening in modified states?

A: My advice to business similar to my own is, find your tribe. Don’t go it alone. As cliché as it sounds, remember, “we’re all in this together”. I’ve been able to lean on a few good industry friends. We have daily and weekly check-ins (via text, WhatsApp, phone calls and some wine meetups). We share positive affirmations, resources, and act as a sounding board for each other for what was frustrating during that day or week.


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