Welcome to OnlyFans for the world of food
During the darkest months of the pandemic lockdown, Shep Gordon was stuck at home wondering if he should finally get back into the game. A Hollywood veteran who directed Teddy Pendergrass and Alice Cooper at the height of their careers and who took time off to earn the title of “inventor of the famous chef”, Gordon worried about his friends in the restaurant business. Businesses were disappearing at a staggering rate. People were cooking at home more than ever. The biggest names in food took to hosting demos on Instagram Live, while passionate new voices began leading the conversation about the future of the culinary world and its systemic flaws, which the crisis had laid bare: a climate of loss, upheaval, possibility.
“I just didn’t think I could make a big contribution,” said Gordon, 76, speaking by phone one recent afternoon.
Then the television producer Brian Bedol came to call. He wanted to introduce Gordon to an application he was building with Elana Karp, the former chef and co-founder of Plated, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! executive producer Doug DeLuca: Think of the platform, Kittch, as a cross between Twitch, Instagram, and OnlyFans, except the chefs are the only stars and, thankfully, there’s less nudity. In the 90s, Bedol had the crazy idea of creating a channel entirely devoted to broadcasting sports matches that had already been organised. He faced significant skepticism about what would become ESPN Classic (not to mention the second channel, CBS Sports Network). Around the same time, Gordon also pursued what some viewers considered a dubious ambition: to change the public perception of artisan chefs eternally chained to their stoves, even after reaching the pinnacle of their profession, into brands certifiable.
Yet Bedol had no hope. “Shep has heard and seen it all, and I was aware that he has spent the past two decades turning down almost every opportunity to return to the food business in an official capacity,” he said. But Bedol immediately hooked the man insiders call Supermensch; Gordon is now one of Kittch’s leading investors and advocates. (As of this writing, james lebron and Maverick Carter of LRMR are the latest big names to join the investor pool.) “I really believe this is going to shape the next phase of the celebrity chef,” Gordon says, “especially for unfunded personalities who have talent but don’t want to not follow the traditional path.
On Kittch, which released a beta in November and is launching in full today, established names like Daniela Soto-Innes Marcus Samuelson, and Chris Blanco, as well as emerging talent without physical operations, can live stream lectures and conversations, using picture-in-picture to provide viewers with multiple perspectives of the action; create an archive of recipes and videos; and monetize their production through a direct-to-consumer market. They may also charge users for perks such as the ability to sit at the “chef’s table” during a demonstration. This feature allows community members to interact with the host without having to worry that their questions will be buried under an avalanche of comments, as might happen on Instagram Live.
“As a chef, you have to know each platform, learn how to use each platform, and then to be able to rise above the noise of all the competing industries on these platforms,” said Karp, who is also COO of Kittch, of the problem his team wants to solve. After studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Karp joined Plated, an early mover in the meal kit delivery landscape, because she felt there were other ways to apply her skills. “This is an opportunity for more chefs to explore those other avenues and make money doing what they love.”
Kittch has its own microcurrency, “clams”, which translate into real dollars.
“None of these chefs were really making a living,” Gordon says of his motivations three decades ago. “Charlie Trotter had a two-year waiting list in Chicago, but he still couldn’t afford to cover his child’s education.” But what has bothered Gordon the most – who credits his late friend, French chef Roger Vergé, with saving him from the fate that befell many of the hard-working artists he helped become stars – is that these giants were often treated with little respect every time. they would go to culinary events together. It became the mission of the agent and the manager to change that.