Phantom Gourmet answers questions about the show and advice to students

Phantom Gourmet logo

Phantom Gourmet

Phantom Gourmet logo

Hannah Thomas, Business Editor

On Wednesday, Phantom Gourmet, a food-related television show, had a Zoom meeting. Dave Andelman, the business owner of Phantom Gourmet, introduced himself. Then it was time for students to ask Andelman questions they have.

Q: How did you get inspired to create Phantom Gourmet?

A: I didn’t have a plan back then. I studied law and after passing the bar exam I thought companies would give me jobs. I went into business myself. My idea was to do a show showing the best places for certain types of foods. We were doing restaurant reviews in the beginning, but that was just repetitive and not that informational. We started to find places which led to the shows becoming more fun. We sort of rift-off of the theme food-and-fun. One thing I have done well is to not be afraid to fail […] They all can’t be hits.

Q: How did the virus affect your business?

A: It has been really hard[…] We can’t shoot in restaurants so we have food brought to us[…] everybody right now is in survival mode with a few exceptions. My message to my crew has been “let’s do the best we can and to put out the most relevant content that we can. When things come back we will be more popular and we will be ready to go”.

Q: How do you expand and diversify content?

A: After doing a long time [of doing restaurant reviews], I decided restaurant reviewing wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore[…] finding the best places within a 10-mile radius or who is doing the best for takeout is more interesting to me than a review.

Q: What are the basic requirements when looking at a restaurant and how do you distinguish good and great restaurants? 

A: We spend a lot of time and money to find places the audience would be interested in. To me, a great restaurant is about value. You can go to a restaurant and feel great leaving, whether it is fine dining or a sandwich type of place. I happen to think that restaurants really compete in the entertainment space[…] so we try to show you places where you would want to take people there.

Q: How do you promote the show?

A: It took a long time. There were weeks where I had to do 10 radio interviews but now it has really moved to social media. You can now connect with them anytime. [My brothers and I] can do Facebook live for hours while most reporters can’t do that. So it has given us a great way for us to connect to our fans. We do anything to let people know what Phantom Gourmet is and what it is about.

Q: What was the major challenge in building a business and what lessons were learned?

A: When you’re in business, it is really never easy. Something tends to happen. One thing I did was to try things and there is no other way to do it. You have to be aggressive and can’t be anyone else. Many people try to copy what I do but I think they got the wrong lesson out of it. The lessons they should have drawn was to do something original and different. It is very hard to let people know who you are and what you do at the beginning.  I think you have to try something new and different and to work at it. Another thing that I have done well is surrounded myself with awesome employees[…] They try very hard because they know it is in their best interest to work really hard so we can keep moving forward. If I was going to give credit to myself for anything, it would be that I was tough and I stuck to it. 

Q: How do you negotiate to create content that your fans would want to see and increase exposure for the show for other audiences?

A: We do think of the audience’s entertainment and we do not let the comments get in the way of our production. It is just the way it is[…] that is just how you have to be when you want to build a big brand. The more popular you get, the more people will hate you. At the same time, you have to think about the audience and where the market is moving.  We are always scrambling to be more interesting, relevant, and bring more value to our fans. You can’t be afraid of the trolls and having your efforts to fail.

Q: Do you have any advice on how to hook more readers on food writing and photography?

A: I got lucky in high school since. I had four amazing English teachers. They really helped me and it has been a big help in my life. I think you have to learn to write with the conservation of words: learn how to say what you mean, and to write it in a way that is clear and concise but interesting. Not many people can do it. 

Q: How long does it take from film to airing it?

A: The first step is investigating it, which might take one to three months. Once they have done that and we have decided to do it, we need to find time to shoot it. Normally, the video would come back and a producer would start working on it. Once it is written, that is when the editor starts editing. During the shooting, we try to shoot more than we need. 

Q: What advice do you have when starting a new job like this?

A: I would learn to do everything right now such as edit, shoot, make graphics. When I first started that was absolutely impossible. No one could possibly accumulate all the skills by themselves. But that is changing. Now you can acquire those skills easily from buying tools and having an editing software. So having skills to do everything is going to be of value in the future.