What is Food Storytelling?

What is food storytelling?

What is Food Storytelling?

What is Food Storytelling? 366 222 Shlomi Ron

I have always been intrigued by food storytelling.

For one reason, I like to cook and in fact I am the chef in my house 🙂

I confess, I was also one of the many that in the past year got swept by the baking craze. I enjoy exploring variety of food genres from comfort food, street food, grandma’s food and various other cuisines.

What is food storytelling?

Growing up in Tel Aviv, Israel my culinary heritage is the Mediterranean diet I continue enjoying and learning more ways on how to perfect, as you can see examples from my last year’s explorations.

When you think about food in the intersection of storytelling , what I find extremely intriguing are:

  • Food backstories: how food experts describe the quaint history of a dish, how they select the location and people, demonstrate the preparation process of a dish- to finally the art of communicating the appearance sequence of flavors.
  • Recipes as stories: The ingredients section defines the characters with a one or two protagonists that eventually dominate the flavors. The Instructions section describes the storyline of how the ingredients interact with each other. And the final Serving Suggestions captures the story’s outcome.
  • Cooking adventure as story where you play the hero: To move the story forward, you need to overcome surprising conflicts that stand between you – the hero – and your goal – the perfect dish. It’s a high-stakes drama with a healthy dose of uncertainty. As such, a baking story includes many “dragons” that threaten your mission as you translate the recipe into your kitchen; from ingredient selection, right measures, ingredient manipulation, timing, taming your oven’s unique temperatures, and a surprising one – recipe errors.
  • Diversifying perspectives: Like any good story, people can relate better to your food story if you simply diversify the storyteller that took part in the food creation journey; from the farmer, the truck driver, the supermarket employee, grandma to a popular TV chef.

As such, food stories bring out this mix of highly cultural, personal experiences (after all we all practice eating several times a day).

Yet, we communicate food stories with  a compromised sensory experience as audiences can’t smell or taste the dish through the spoken word or visuals.

But just because food stories deal with flavors and aromas – things we all carry our own personal preferences, we can easily complete the missing details in our minds.

So when we combine a great food story with compelling visuals (aka “Food Porn”) the resulting effect works both on our mental and physical craving sides – and we get an emotionally strong experience.

With this in mind, I find food storytelling as another great example of visual storytelling at its best, us marketers can learn a ton from.

So, on this episode of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast I explore What Is Food Storytelling?

That’s why I was so excited to speak with Shizue Roche Adachi, the Director of Communications & Narrative Design at Real Food Real Stories, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco with a mission to grow just connected and resilient food communities through stories.

Watch the full video recording of this interview:

Need a screen break?
You can also listen to the audio podcast of this episode.
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Some of the questions I asked Shizue:

  • Can you share a bit about your backstory and what was that magic moment that made you pursue a career in food communications?
  • A question I asked all my guests; how do you define visual storytelling?
  • And with this in mind, how do you define food storytelling?
  • When we had talked earlier you mentioned at Real Food Real Stories you use the term “Foodshed” to describe all the characters that take part in a food story. Can you describe the process of how you use visual food storytelling at Real Food Real Stories with all these characters that make stories recognizable and memorable?
  • Can you talk more about what is the mission of Real Food Real Stories and programs you drive?
  • What’s in your opinion the role of personal memories around food that you take into account in your food storytelling?
  • Can you share 1-2 examples that best demonstrate your FoodTelling approach that has resonated particularly well with your audience?
  • Can you describe your storytelling approach for communicating flavors of your dishes?
  • How do you create an emotional connection between food and your audience?
  • What is your most favorite childhood dish and why?
  • What are your top 3 tips for effective FoodTelling marketers could apply to their visual storytelling strategy
  • And much more!

What does your food storytelling experience look like?

Shlomi Ron

Shlomi Ron is the CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute (VSI), the primary think tank that brings the gospel of visual storytelling from the world of art into marketing. AT VSI, Shlomi helps brands rise above the communication noise through visual storytelling consulting, training, production, and thought leadership. A digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience working both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as Nokia, IBM, and American Express. Along his journey, he was nursing his side passion for visual media with interests in classic Italian cinema (cafePellicola.com) and video art (BukySchwartz.com). Thought leader and speaker at key marketing conferences. He is also the host of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast that ranks the best 20 business storytelling podcasts on the Web. Shlomi's new book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals To Help You Create Richer, Visual Brand Stories. His favorite quote: "A story is nothing but a mirror. The magic happens the moment your brand story mirrors your customer’s personal story." Outside work, he is a nascent bread baker, The Moth fan, and longtime fedora wearer likely to jive with his classic Italian cinema interest.

All stories by: Shlomi Ron

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