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The 50 Best Restaurant Experts and Chefs to Follow in 2018

Posted by AJ Beltis on 12/20/17 5:00 PM in Industry News & Trends

28 minute read Print

restaurant experts 2018

It's that time of year again. 

Each year, we strive to equip restaurant owners with the resources they need for a successful new year. 

What better way to stay on top of things than to follow this list of restaurant experts – the owners, chefs, and writers who are shaping the industry?

2017 saw a paradigm shift for many restaurants. Diners are still eating out, but their preferences have changed in many ways. Everything from the menu items they are demanding, to the ways they want to place orders, are new to many restaurant professionals. 

Restaurateurs, in order to stay on top, have been forced to respond – sometimes reactively. 

Following this list of restaurant experts will help you stay on top of the industry, and enable you to make proactive, positive decisions for your business.  

Making the List of 2018's Leading Food & Restaurant Experts

For the past two years, Toast has made lists for the Top 30 Experts and Top 35 Experts to follow, respectively. This year, we're upping the ante to include the 50 Best Restaurant and Food Experts to Follow in 2018.

While you'll definitely see some familiar faces, read through the list and see if you can spot who's new this year. I believe their presence on your timeline will be most welcome.

To be included on this list, one must be:

  • A chef or restaurant owner.
  • A restaurant chain professional.
  • A restaurant consultant.
  • A trailblazing food or restaurant celeb.
  • A dedicated food blogger.
  • A reporter or thought leader in the food and/or restaurant industry.

Additionally, these restaurant leaders must have been active on Twitter within the past month and have more than 1,000 followers. Their social reach must be great, and they must post excellent restaurant content about kitchen management, industry news, food, and/or restaurant marketing. 

The following is an alphabetical list, by first name, of the most knowledgeable professionals in the restaurant industry.

Open up your Twitter account and be sure to follow these industry professionals for some great day-to-day restaurant insights! 

The Top 50 Restaurant Influencers 

aaron.pngAarón Sánchez

Award-Winning Chef, TV Personality, Cookbook Author, and Philanthropist
FOX's MasterChef / Author / Dad / mexiCAN
@AaronSanchez - Website


adam.pngAdam Goldberg

Editor-in-Chief, Drift and Ambrosia
@alifewortheating on Instagram/Facebook and @lifewortheating on Snapchat.
@LifeWorthEating - Website


Alan Liddle alan.png

Data & Event Content Director, Nation's Restaurant News
Data and event content director. At Nation's Restaurant News since 1984. Also, researcher for Supermarket News Top 75. Formerly: daily/weekly news; restaurants.
@AJ_NRN - Website


Allie Tetreaultallie2.png

Food and Restaurant Blogger, Toast
Content Marketing Manager at Toast, Journalist, Blogger, Acapella alto, Wheaton College Grad. Entertainment Buff. 
@aktetreault - Website


allison-1.pngAllison Aubrey

Food Writer, James Beard Award Winner
NPR Correspondent, PBS NewsHour contributor, mom, aspiring yogi, lavender lover.
@AubreyNPRFood - Website


carlson.pngAndrew Carlson 

CEO of Carson Hospitality
On a mission to bring back the customer experience to restaurants in America. Restaurant Speaker. Author. CEO of Carlson Hospitality.
@andrew1110 - Website


bourdain.pngAnthony Bourdain 

Chef, Author, and Television Personality
@Bourdain - Website


april.pngApril Bloomfield

Holds a Michelin star at two restaurants.
@AprilBloomfield - Website


cast.pngBarbara Castiglia

Executive Editor, Modern Restaurant Management
Executive Editor, Modern Restaurant Management.
@bcastiglia44 - Website


brad.pngBradley Toft 

The Restaurant Specialist
The Restaurant Guy. Husband, Dad, and a work in progress. Risk Specialist at Newman & Tucker Insurance.
@BradleyToft - Website


Bret ThornBret Thorn 

Food Writer, Nation's Restaurant News
Follow the adventures of a New York City food writer. Senior F&B editor, NRN & Restaurant Hospitality.
@FoodWriterDiary - Website


bruce.pngBruce Irving

Chef and Restaurateur
Founder SPM Marketing: The #1 Digital marketing platform for pizzerias  | Speaker | Podcaster | Host of the top rated SPM Podcast : Family First 
@Irvingmedia - Website


cheryl2.pngCheryl Bachelder

Former CEO, Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen, Inc.
Former Popeyes CEO focused on developing purpose-driven leaders who evidence competence and character in all aspects of their lives. Author of Dare To Serve.
@CABachelder - Website


chill.pngChris Hill 

Chef, Bach Kitchen 
Leadership and Branding Restaurant Guy - Entrepreneur - Author + 2X TEDx Speaker. (Chris was also a guest on Toast's podcast, The Garnish! Listen here.)
@bachkitchen Website


christina.pngChristina Tosi

Chef, Author, Television Personality, and Owner of Momofoku Milk Bar
Hardbody for life.
@ChristinaTosi - Website


dan.pngDan Pashman

Host and Creator, The Sporkful Podcast
Creator/host of The Sporkful podcast at Stitcher and the Cooking Channel web series You're Eating It Wrong and The Snackdown. An eater, not a foodie.
@TheSporkful -


danny meyerDanny Meyer

CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group
CEO Union Square Hospitality Group. Founder Shake Shack. Always Setting the Table.
@dhmeyer - Website


dg.pngDave Gonynor 

CEO/CO-Founder, That's Biz
Helping restaurants, bars, and chains attract new customers and drive repeat visits.
@thatsbiz - Website


henkes.pngDavid Henkes

Advisory Group Senior Principal, ‎Technomic Inc.
Global food/beverage industry trendwatcher, consultant, & connoisseur. Senior Principal at . Named 1 of top  experts to follow in 2017.
@davidhenkes - Website


dsp.pngDavid Scott Peters

The Restaurant Expert
I own a coaching company teaching independent restaurant owners how to use systems to be successful and profitable. We offer coaching, workshops and software.
@RestaurantXpert - Website


dev.pngDevra First

Food Writer, Boston Globe 
Boston Globe food writer and restaurant critic. Come for the rabbis, stay for the food.
@devrafirst - Website


db2017.pngDonald Burns

The Restaurant Coach™
The Restaurant Coach™, industry expert at  and Toast. Former USAF Pararescue. My motto: All business problems are really people problems in disguise.
@donaldburns - Website


eric.pngEric Cacciatore

Host, RestaurantUnstoppable Podcast
Host, RestaurantUnstoppable Podcast. Successful hospitality professionals telling their stories of success and sharing their mentorship.
@EricCacciatore - Website


gerry.pngGerry Ludwig

Chef, Gordon Food Service
Representing Gordon Food Service through culinary research and development, restaurant trend tracking, food writing and public speaking.
@GFSChefGerry - Website


gordon.pngGordon Ramsay

Celebrity Chef, Restaurateur, and Television Personality 
Check out an awfully British experience in the heart of London York and Albany this festive season.
@GordonRamsay - Website


graha.pngGraham Elliot

Chef, Restaurateur, Cookbook Author, TV Personality
@grahamelliot - Website


heather.pngHeather Lalley

Editor, Restaurant Business Magazine
Editor at Restaurant Business Magazine, new restaurant concepts. Medill + Washburne Culinary grad. Previously at Spokesman Review. 
@flourgrrrl - Website


hudson riehleHudson Riehle 

Senior Vice President, National Restaurant Association
National Restaurant Association - SVP, Research & Knowledge Group
@HudsonRiehle - Website


kenji.pngJ. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Author and Chief Culinary Advisor, Serious Eats
Stay-at-Home Dad. Author of The Food Lab. Serious Eats (NYC), Wursthall, and Backhaus (both San Mateo). Husband to Adriana. Feminist. 
@kenjilopezalt - Website


oikle.pngJaime Oikle

Owner, Restaurant Report and  - Helping Restaurants Succeed and Profit
@JaimeOikle - Website


oliver.pngJamie Oliver

Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur 
The latest from Jamie Oliver HQ.
@jamieoliver - Website


jean.pngJean Lee

Restaurant Social Media & Events Consultant
Restaurant PR + Social Media + Events | Food + Drink + Travel | NYC Native
@jeaniusNYC - Website


broughton.pngJenna Broughton

Freelance Food and Restaurant Writer
Made in Florida. Former American Idol auditionee. Onetime sweepstakes winner. Freelance writer covering impact of tech & policy on food & agriculture.
@JennaBroughton - Website


telesca.pngJenna Telesca

Editor-in-Chief, Nation's Restaurant News
Editor-in-Chief of Nation's Restaurant News. News tips?
@JennaTelesca - Website


jim-1.pngJim Sullivan

CEO and Founder,
All about restaurant & retail Leadership Strategy at  Author: Multiunit Leadership & The Fundamentals. Speaker, Writer, Omnivore, Dad, Lad, Grad.
@Sullivision - Website


jonathan mazeJonathan Maze

Executive Editor, Restaurant Business Magazine
Executive Editor with Restaurant Business Magazine. Egghead. Married up to Haila Maze. Opinions pre-approved by a blue ribbon panel of experts.
@jonathanmaze - Website


waxman.pngJonathan Waxman

Restaurateur and Chef
Chef and owner of Barbuto & Jams NYC, Adele's Nashville and Brezza Cucina Atlanta
@chefjwaxman - Website


jose.pngJosé Andrés

Author and James Beard Award–Winning Chef
When they go low, we go high...
@chefjoseandres - Website


julie.pngJulie Jargon

Restaurant Reporter, Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal restaurant reporter, mom of three. LA via Chicago via Denver. Hiking, running, West Coast rap.
@juliejargon - Website


ken burginKen Burgin

Founder, Profitable Hospitality 
Helping restaurants, cafes, clubs & hotels to be more profitable - marketing, management, cost-control, training, staff. Plus the Profitable Hospitality podcast.
@KenBurgin - Website


keith.pngKeith Nunes

Executive Editor, Food Business News
Food, like most things, is best when left to its own simple beauty.
@FoodBizNews - Website


liz.pngLiz Grossman

Managing Editor, Plate Magazine
Managing Editor of PlateMagazine, co-founder of Between Bites and Instagram curator of nail and food art.
@elizabites - Website


marcus.pngMarcus Guiliano

Chef and Restaurateur 
Food Activist, Professional Speaker, Eco-Lectic Restaurateur, Restaurant Consultant, Health Nut, Ultra-Marathoner, Raw Food Lover, Craft Beer & Wine Snob.
@1ChefonaMission - Website


michelle.pngMichelle Williams

New York Food Blogger
The voice of Coffee And Champagne. I explore and create food and share my faves so you know what to eat next 
@coffeeandchamps - Website


ming.pngMing Tsai

James Beard Award Winning Chef and Restaurateur, Television Personality
Chef/Owner-Blue Dragon, Exec Producer/Host-Simply Ming and President-National Advisory Board Family Reach. Food is simple, make it tasty! (Ming was also a guest on Toast's Podcast, The Garnish! Listen here.)
@mingtsai - Website


paul.pngPaul Barron

CEO, Foodable
CEO, editor in chief, Exec Producer of Foodable, the largest digital network in food. Founder FastCasual, Author of The Chipotle Effect
@paulbarron -


pete.pngPeter Romeo

Editor, Restaurant Business Online
Editor at Large for  and . Covering the restaurant industry since 1984
@PeterRomeo - Website


ron rugglessRon Ruggless

Senior Editor, Nation's Restaurant News 
Senior editor at Nation's Restaurant News | Roughly 60% water (results may vary)
@RonRuggless - Website


sarah.pngSarah Whitten

Food & Restaurant Journalist, CNBC 
Journalist at CNBC covering food, restaurants, consumer products, toys and entertainment | cat lady, gif linguist & nerd.
@sarahwhit10 - Website


tiffany.pngTiffany Lopinsky

Boston Food Blogger
A Bostonian documenting my eats in the city!
@Boston_Foodies - Website

Please note that with so many knowledgeable professionals in the restaurant industry, there's no way we could have fit everyone on this list. So let us know who we’re missing!

Congratulations to everyone featured here, and good luck to the contenders next year! Who did you think were the most influential restaurant experts? Who would you add to the list? Leave a comment below! 

Make sure you subscribe to the Toast Blog to see who makes the cut next year. 

Form – 2018 Success Report (Blog)

toast restaurant management blog

Written by: AJ Beltis

AJ Beltis managed Toast's blog and content library for more than two years. He also started the company's restaurant success podcast, The Garnish. When he's not writing, he's probably watching one of his favorite movies for the 30th time or planning his next road trip. He loves to travel and experience all the different kinds of toast the world has to offer.

Leave a comment today. 

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