Do you have a secret obsession with TV chefs?

Guilty!

I do think a day is well spent if I have watched Jamie Oliver throw fresh herbs out of his perfect TV garden on a rustic bread board or Nigella eat chocolate cake out of her fridge at “midnight,” – what can I say? Anthony Bourdain’s book, No Reservations, was as sexy and exciting as Bear Grills but minus the muscle and the snake wrestling {though Bourdain does drink Snake’s blood in Vietnam – yummy!}

The OC’s very own Dani Venn is also a super hot TV Chef with a difference.

After being a finalist on Masterchef in 2011, she has clearly not slept a night. She has been filming from her very own country kitchen in Victoria, launched a stunning blog called, ‘The Wholehearted Cook’ focused on cooking whole food for families, launched luxurious Wholehearted Wellness Retreats in Bali for 2017, launched Eat It Up Creative, a Communications Consultancy specialising in the Hospitality Industry, launched a new online TV series called, “The Gardenettes” inspired by the 1940’s and 50’s when women had serious skills, {featured in Frankie Mag already!} and now, the crowning glory, a new hospitality focused Podcast called, “Beyond The Pass” interviewing Australian TV Chef Royalty such as George Calombaris {Masterchef} and Adrian Richardson {Good Chef Bad Chef}. PHEW!

Over the last 5 years of working in film and television and in her own projects, Dani has jam-packed an enormous amount of experience in the food industry, communications and branding, and the world of being an influencer, with now other brands approaching her to leverage their products and services.

I was incredibly lucky to grab her for a few minutes and sharp shoot some questions about her experience that can help all of us, whether we are in food or something else – the world is changing at a rapid pace and Dani’s insights offer us a way to embrace what we have and build it up – bigger and better.

  • How do you recommend we engage well known people and entice them into own brand world?

There are a lot of people wanting influencers to work with their brand, but the partnerships that work best, is when the relationship is genuine. If the relationship is genuine and they love your brand, then that will work for both parties. There is a transactional relationship now as the new way of advertising is to engage people’s tribes. Build up a relationship first if possible, you need to really think about your choice. The influencer or brand has to align with your values and you with theirs – there has to be a genuine synergy between your brand and theirs.

  • What does the future of the Australian food industry look like? What are the hot trends?

One of the big trends, is being less on trend! We have gone through a phase of using trendy ingredients like kale, and matcha for example, so now we are seeing a pair back to what people like, what tastes good, including those ingredients if you want to, but not because you have to.

Also being genuine and authentic about where your food comes from, this is not a trend, just an expectation now. People are more interested in food and care about food. People have woken up to what the food industry has been doing, so many people have food related diseases, if we look back 100 years ago we see why this has happened, for example, food allergies. Its scary and people want their children to grow up with better food than they grew up with. I feel like lots of people now are really conscious, like glorifiying,  #cleaneating on social media – they are acknowledging what goes into their bodies.

  • What does brand influencing look like in 2017?

Positioning yourself as an expert is really important and you can do that in various ways, for example content – eg. I have just started a podcast, I am starting an event for next year for the hospitality industry, so even though it is separate to my business, it is still part of my industry. Collaborating with other brands is always powerful, for example charity partners, blogs, events. Of course, building a strong social media presence is important too.

  • Making your own TV series – what are some hot tips to do it style?

Starting on social media is a great place to start. Mainstream television has changed so much in the last few years and it is very difficult to get a show up on television, sponsorship is a huge driving force especially in cooking.

You can have full creative control of your own show on your socials {eg Youtube} for example, The Gradenettes are fully sponsored by garden products but ones that align with the values of The Gardenettes. When I first shot my own show it led to so many opportunities, this helped me to get onto other opportunities eg. like being on the Coles YouTube channel. You learn so much when you start doing it, you get comfortable in front of a camera and it helps you learn. You just have to keep going and you can meet with production companies and they may take it to a network for you. There is a massive network outside of Australia too, so make sure to consider that!

  • What is your biggest advice for food businesses who are young in their business journey – what do they need to know to create amazing products and services?

Getting feedback and listening to other people’s feedback on your product itself. Invest in a good designer for your branding, before anyone even tastes it they need to want to eat your food.

What are your values and your story?  Its like with coconut oil, there are so many on the market, you feel connected to their brand story, that is why. What is your story and what is value? You make the choice every single day that if it looks good, it tastes good! Pana Chocolate is now one of the most successful food brands in Australia and they are an example of a business that worked hard on their brand story and packaging, changing their business entirely.

Image courtesy of Shellie Froidevaux from a recent Wholehearted Retreat in Bali.