Social Media Icon: @StephAndTheGoat, aka Stephanie Izard

Stephanie Izard rose to fame in 2008 after winning Top Chef, the popular cooking competition on Bravo. She remains the only woman to have won Top Chef and has gone on to launch a critically-acclaimed restaurant, Girl and the Goat, in her hometown of Chicago.

Izard stays connected with her fans locally and nationally through her personal blog, Twitter handle, @StephandtheGoat and  Facebook page. We spoke with her recently about why she hopped online and what she’s learned so far.

After Top Chef, you started your own blog. Why?

To try to improve my vocabulary; since I don’t read much, I thought it was my best option.

Cynics will say bloggers are people who write what they ate for breakfast. Have you ever blogged about what you ate for breakfast?

No, I don’t think so. Did I? I don’t actually read my blogs – I just write them (see above).

Before Girl and the Goat opened, you created a series of documentary-style short videos in 2009 called The Tasty Life. What were those about?

We were out checking out farms for the restaurant and enjoying life, so I thought other people might find our adventures humorous.

You also joined Twitter. What was that learning curve like?

I am still trying to figure it out. It seems like a good mix of humor and reality.

Interestingly, you ended up using Twitter to promote The Wandering Goat. Tell us about that experience.

We finally understood the true power of tweeting when we sold out one of the dinners in under a minute. The response was incredible.

Flash forward to today. Is anything off limits on Twitter? In the last day, for example, you’ve tweeted about bison balls and being single on Valentine’s Day.

Not really, once in a while I edit myself, but mainly I tweet without thinking about it. Life has gone from drunk dialing to drunk tweeting.

Do you read your guests’ tweets? What’s the funniest tweet you’ve read? The most touching?

Yes, I read them. There have been a lot of funny ones, but the one that stands out to me right now is “Whoa, @stephandthegoat is standing right behind me.”  Funny, touching & kinda strange.

We get a lot of compliments about dinner on twitter, which is always nice.

How do you respond to a negative tweet? What about a negative review on a site like Yelp?

To be honest, I do not really read the Yelp reviews. My managers do and bring them to me, and then we all address them together. I think a negative review is like a stranger walking up to you on the street, punching you in the face and walking away.

What do you say to chefs who are skeptical of using social media?

It definitely takes time. If you are not going to do it full force, it is not worth it. If done right, it can be a very useful tool for connecting with guests.

Who on Twitter—a chef or otherwise—inspires you the most and why?

Umm, never really thought about it. maybe @shitmydadsays? He got a tv show out of his funny tweets.

Liked this interview? Let us know who we should interview next via Twitter at @435Digital or in the comments below.

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