By Jeremy Fall
I’m a celebrity “chef” who never learned how to cook. But my restaurants were packed with the biggest names in Hollywood. Every single night.
Big question - how the #$!?% did I do that?
I was 25 when I opened my first restaurant, and my peers in the industry were 35 to 40 years old. Where they distanced themselves from the younger crowd, I saw an opportunity that nobody was going after.
The kids that were consuming food were the same kids that would line up on Fairfax to buy sneakers from Supreme. It was this young demographic that liked “hype” culture, and were more interested in the story of something. They want to understand the why of everything they consume. Everything's a lifestyle - from what they drink, to what they wear, to what they watch, to who they're with.
I knew I could tap into that demographic. I became the voice of my generation who told them where to eat. Because I was on the ground floor of something no one really understood yet.
Enter social media.
Prepare for Cringe
Becoming a so-called tastemaker in my career literally started on MySpace.
For those of you who didn’t live through the MySpace era, you may not know about the horribly pixelated images you would select as your page’s background, or how you could tile or stretch it across the screen. And you wouldn’t know which blink-182 song I had on autoplay when you visited my page.
But you definitely know the name MySpace. Even if it makes you cringe.
I started my career literally manning the door at some of the most high-profile clubs in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. MySpace was where I started promoting my first club events, for kids 12-17 to hang out in a safe, alcohol-free environment.
Because follower count wasn’t a thing back then, I was able to add young socialites as my friends and have them come to and promote my events. It was really all grassroots marketing.
But these socialites weren’t rich kids or in-demand celebrities - they were kids my age who were as broke as I was, making a name for themselves based off of their influence.
In a way, perception mattered more than reality. And the people who were able to tap into that community and get other people to show up were the people I needed to align with.
All these years later, I’ll still give some credit to MySpace. It was the first place where I really saw the power of perception, of what social media could do.
The Power of Perception
For me, that power of perception became about storytelling. I thought about how I wanted people to feel about a club before they stepped inside. I had to create something behind the velvet rope that made people feel a certain way. I had to make them want to subscribe.
So when I opened my first restaurant, Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar, I combined the power of perception with the ultimate perception-tool: social media. The places I opened back in the day would have been Instagrammable now. I adopted all the social media platforms pretty quickly, and got into video content myself. I thought, “I could be my own mini Food Network.” And that promotional work got people in the door before they’d even seen a menu.
Creating the image and perception of my brand was what made it a huge success. I made sure my restaurant group as a whole was a media company before a restaurant.
And I think we made some damn good food.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I thought all of the glamor and celebrity was real. But when I started understanding this power of perception, how people on the carpet didn’t really have to be their authentic selves, I knew what I had to do to take the next step in the restaurant world.
I thought, instead of shying away from it, why don't I turn it into an advantage? Why don't I tell the story of what I want to be? And create that narrative of who Jeremy Fall should be, and use it to build something.
I was not that confident. But I was crazy enough and naive enough to think that it could work. I created who the persona of Jeremy Fall was first, and then I ended up adding a career to it.
But there are challenges that come with building a brand based on yourself. It’s like you become your own employee and CEO. If I am Jeremy that works for Jeremy Fall, then Jeremy Fall is the brand. But when you start to mesh the two, you start living a very inauthentic life.
Even when my restaurants started getting major success, none of it felt real to me. Everything that was associated with Jeremy Fall felt built around this character or brand I created, not who I really was. I didn’t know who I really was.
Because I spent so much time perfecting my image as a creator, I also perfected a severe impostor syndrome. It was my biggest follower. I named it Bob. And I’m writing a book about him later, if you want to read it.
I think “faking it til you make it” is okay to a certain extent. No one’s going to say, “Hey, this is exactly who I am. And this is exactly my ability.” Everyone is going to oversell themselves. And to make it as a creator, you do have to focus on that brand you’re creating.
It's like getting dressed for an event. You don't sleep in the dress or the suit, but you wear it for the event. As long as you take that off by the end of the night, you should be okay. When I was struggling with my impostor syndrome, I took a necessary break from social media. I came back to so many DMs of people that were going through the same shit - CEOs, celebrities, people I didn't know even followed me. So I’m sure there are plenty of you reading this who have and gone through it and maybe going through it now too.
Here’s my advice: No matter what you do, make sure to not be exactly who you are.
I know you’re worried about coming off less “real” to your followers, and you want to give something that is authentic. That’s okay. And it's also okay to create that brand you believe in, and still keep your personal self out of it.
The Most Authentic Social Media
Being an influencer looks a little different now. It used to be the Miley Cyruses, Demi Lovatos, Selena Gomezes - people you could see and want to emulate. You could buy their clothes and get their look, but you could never really attain their status.
But when the OGs started cropping up, and YouTubers really became the tastemakers, this status became more accessible. These people weren’t celebrities, necessarily - they were people like you and me, using the tools that we all have available to us to create content.
Now we’ve all got the tools, and we’ve all got the access to a global audience to create things for.
What I’m seeing in the new social media that I like is, because of the complete access to all this information, this generation is much more open. I think the challenge the kids have now is that social media is so ingrained in their lives, that it’s hard to find that line between sharing your brand and sharing everything.
I now run a media company that educates the younger generation about the NFT (non-fungible token) space. And for me, it’s a lesson in true authenticity. To me, NFTs are the most authentic form of social media. Their creators are inherently authentic, because they have such a close interaction with their audience in the hopes that they directly buy into what they’ve got to share.
I like to preserve something that I have ownership in. And there are things I don’t want to share with the world. I want to own all the IP of Jeremy Fall's personal life, or at least a part of it. Like an NFT of me.
As long as you are able to keep some part of yourself that's just for you as a creator, I think you'll be okay. Because, regardless of what other people try to sell you, that's true authenticity.
Follow me: @jeremyfall