The 'CEO of ChefTok' Explains Going Viral on Social Media Interview with Silicon Valley Executive Chef Brandon Dearden about how to grow a brand on social media with consistency and simplicity, while learning to embrace "failure."

By Shawn P. Walchef

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Takeaways from this episode:

Start Creating Content Now — Chef Brandon Dearden is a man of action, and encourages others to be so, too. When trying to build a brand, hesitation is the antithesis to growth. No one can gain a following on social media without any content to follow.

Do What You're Good At — Time is the one thing none of us seem to have enough of. That isn't any different when discussing the requirements of creating content. Chef Dearden has found the productivity hack of outsourcing items he doesn't have time to do or doesn't enjoy doing.

Gold is Found in Failure — Brandon is not afraid to push himself in order to grow his brand. He believes that failing means you tried and eliminates the ability to blame anyone else. "Failure" allows for the lessons to be internalized, which is key to improving content.


Chef Brandon Dearden is living the dream and sharing it with the world on social media.

"I knew I wanted to be a chef when I was 16 years old," says the Silicon Valley Executive Chef about his career aspirations as a youngster. "I was so intrigued by the cooks just basically screaming at each other," he continues. "I was hooked ever since I stepped foot in the restaurant. That was my favorite part of the restaurant."

As with most jobs though, Dearden hit a point where he questioned his career choice.

"I worked so hard to get to Executive Chef. Then, once I got the position, it's kind of like I wasn't happy anymore," Dearden shared on the Restaurant Influencers podcast, hosted by Shawn P. Walchef of "When COVID hit, I decided to go all in on my personal brand and social media while currently working my job. Like not really looking to make money, but just building my own personal brand."

And that he has.

Start Creating Content Today

Using TikTok as his main social networking tool, the "CEO of ChefTok" has amassed over half a million followers on the platform. "TikTok is where it's at right now," he suggests. The organic growth and ease of delivery being the social media app's most attractive features.

Like many of us, Dearden almost stopped his organic growth before it started. It is not easy to be consistent. It becomes increasingly difficult to persist when the results aren't matching the effort. Dearden faced the very same adversary.

"40 days. I went a month and ten days," Dearden says describing the days leading up to his first viral video. " After gaining little to no traction, he decided to delve deeper into the TikTok universe and try something new as a last-ditch effort.

"So I did the duet video in my chef jacket in a bathroom. No lighting selfie cam. Smudged camera. And I was kneeling down. And I did a duet video on an iPod stake and the video goes viral. And I couldn't believe it," Dearden speaks with genuine surprise when recalling the story.

"After spending all of that time editing and making sure everything was perfect, what I realized is it's not up to me. It's up to the consumer."

That became the lesson. What you, the creator, thinks may work or not work should take a backseat to putting content out.

When stripped down to the facts, minus any trends, tricks, or algorithm boosters, Brandon Dearden provides the best strategy for building your brand. "Don't even waste time. Start creating content," he advises. "The audio doesn't have to be mastered. The videos don't have to be edited. All you have to do is point and shoot with your phone."

"You have good content. People want to see it."

That is an affirmation all creators should hang on their bathroom mirrors.



NOMINATE A RESTAURANT INFLUENCER — Do you know someone who is killing it on social media? Let us know by emailing or sending the @calibbqmedia team a DM on social media.


Are you SICK and TIRED of scrolling through your social media feeds and not seeing your business anywhere?
Welcome to the Restaurant Influencers podcast series, sponsored by Toast.

Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

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