From One Plate to the World

Chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, father and new Samsung ambassador, Josh Emett, talks about how technology has changed how we eat… or not.

In a world of Instagram and social media, when people sit down for a meal, there’s an urge to share that with the world. Has that meant that you’ve had to really move with the times in some respect? Or is it fundamentally still the same?

My attitude, passion, what I want from people, that hasn’t really changed.

I have a general expectation of discipline, professionalism, honesty and integrity.
In terms of business, you constantly have to evolve. There are all these subtle shifts the whole time. There has to be, you can’t just sit there and stick to your knitting.

As an example, Rata has been doing what it’s been doing for seven years and it’s an amazing business. We make little tweaks and constantly change, but we’re also careful about change. There’s things about Rata that we know people absolutely love. It’s about recognising those bits, but not taking them away. Just adding little extras to keep the interest up.

I guess you get feedback all the time. How do you deal with processing certain feedback, but staying true to what you think is the way to go?

I think over the years, I’ve gotten very emotional about feedback. Sometimes you take criticism hard, sometimes you take it on the chin. I’m getting a little bit older, wiser and hardened to the fact that I can’t necessarily change people’s opinions. I will pick my battles and not let it bother me too much. That’s just life, right? You’re going to win some battles and you are going to lose some battles.

How is the difference in cameras moving to the Samsung Galaxy Note10+?

Brilliant camera, brilliant videos, really easy to use. We do masses of shooting for Instagram. We literally film everything we eat to help people with that pain point of what they are going to eat on a daily, weekly basis. We’re sharing content that helps people say, ‘Brilliant, I’m going to cook that tonight’.

I think it’s just well-known that Samsung phones have better cameras and capture better videos. They do take really good images. Simple as that. We shoot all our food and everything at home, so it’s quite important that we can shoot photos and video and it translates really well. When I did a lamb biryani last week, I must have had 50 people send me the images of their finished version. The recipe works, it was easy. That’s all they want.

Has that visual element changed the way that you prepare food?

No, not really. We cook what we cook and if people like it, they like it. It possibly means we’re more experimental. We look at what dishes people have really loved and give them a different version.

For instance, we did the good old-fashioned chicken pie, a chef-style one. But then we made a cheat’s version, where you buy a roast chicken from the supermarket and just pull the meat off. It’s half the time, really easy and just as delicious.

Social media is a great resource for a bit of data analysis as well. Have you been surprised by trends?

There’s definitely a demand for simple and delicious. We don’t focus too much on taking really beautiful, arty photos. It’s about the quality of the food and the recipe, not necessarily about the beautiful image.

That’s not to say we don’t take some really nice images of the food, but it’s more about helping people get through that day-to-day grind. Cheap, healthy, and fast is what they really want on a weeknight. You’ve got a couple of kids or you’re late home from work, so it needs to be super quick, healthy, taste great and not break the budget.