Restaurant Industry Insights

The Most Powerful & Influential People in the Restaurant Industry

Power. That one world holds incredible sway, with both negative and positive connotations. Some envision others having power over them, taking the reins of their lives and leading them, for better or worse. Others feel emboldened by the word, filled with a strength and force so mighty that nothing can stop them from their aim. 

Recently, Nation’s Restaurant News came out with its yearly Power List of 2024. This list represents those in the restaurant industry who possess influential clout above and beyond. According to Oxford Languages, power is ”The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.” Who comes to mind when you consider those with the power to influence? 

If you guessed correctly, you know that this year’s list doesn’t contain the top chefs or the general managers of the leading brands. This year, it’s about social media influencers, the online marketers with millions of followers whose opinions hold powerful sway. 

Let’s explore some of today’s top powerhouses in the restaurant industry.

The Industry-Leading Social Media Influencers

As an influencer, people trust what they have to say. If they post, “The best ribs in the U.S. are at The Butcher BBQ Stand in Oklahoma,” you can be confident that they’ll be a lineup the very next day or hour. 

Keith Lee has such a mighty influence that it’s been dubbed “The Keith Lee Effect.” With his loyal following of almost 20 million on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, he can prompt a mass surge in business if he deems you worthy of a positive review. 

Cameron Walker loves spicy food, and in a few short years, he’s made a very lucrative career eating his favorites. The TikTok star known as Spice King has his own hot sauce brand and over 2 billion views across all social media platforms.

Chef Nick DiGiovanni competed on Master Chef in 2018 and created his first instructional cooking video in 2020, demonstrating how to cook the perfect steak. His YouTube videos were watched over 5 billion times in 2023 and he won YouTube’s Streamy Award for top food creator. His videos include eating at his favorite restaurants and eating the world’s best pizza. One mention can catapult your restaurant.

Actress Tabitha Brown has over 10 million followers across Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. What started as a review of a sandwich from Whole Foods gone viral has morphed into traveling to known and unknown restaurants nationwide. When she gave her enthusiastic approval to The Birria Queen, a food truck in Houston, the masses showed up, transporting their crunchy birria tacos into stardom.

Top Influencers Within the Restaurant Industry

Then, you have those food influencers celebrated for their striking personalities and box-office hits. These are the experts known for their passion and culinary experiences. Within the restaurant industry, they court the most followers on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. 

As you’ve probably guessed, the top one in this arena is Gordon Ramsay, who has 17 million followers. The British chef and restaurateur has been seen on television shows cooking in remote locations or yelling at competitors in Hell’s Kitchen for almost 20 years. His restaurants have received 16 Michelin stars, and his net worth is about $820 million.

Jamie Oliver boasts over 10 million followers on Instagram. Another UK chef, restaurateur, and host on popular television shows, he uses his influence to promote healthy eating. You can see him cooking with fresh, organic ingredients on social media and TV. 

Rosanna Pansino made her fame on YouTube, where she has over 4 million followers. Her Nerdy Nummies is the baking show to watch on YouTube, where she’s also won the Streamy Award. With two cookbooks already out and a baking line, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

The Powerful Influence of Social Media

For better or worse, social media influencers significantly affect consumers’ actions, from where to what they eat. With one mention, your concept can become a worldwide phenomenon. 

They define many food trends and use their influence to highlight products, cooking styles, and brands. Their recommendations create what’s fashionable to eat and can set a trend with just one post. They are, undoubtedly, some of the top powerhouses affecting the restaurant industry. 

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