Scott Schroeder—executive chef at the South Philadelphia Taproom and American Sardine Bar—is the man behind the most entertaining and un-PC Twitter feed in the Philly food landscape. He keeps us updated on how often he masturbates, when he gets high, and his real feelings on guys who wear white sunglasses that call other guys "brah." (He hates them). He's quick with self-deprecating humor, borderline racial commentary, and gay jokes. Or so his Twitter feed, @FoodsYouCanEat, would have us believe.
Scott Schroeder is also a dedicated father to his son, a ridiculously hard worker, and one hell of a chef with a serious pedigree (Schroeder worked at former 4-Beller ¡Pasion! and the legendary Brasserie Perrier before arriving at SPTR). He loves going to yoga, all while riding around South Philly on his motorcycle. Because of this dichotomy, we always wondered if Schroeder was just playing a joke on all of us, and his Twitter account was the equivalent of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat.
"Sort of, in a way, that's totally true," said Schroeder. "I mean, the things I say I definitely believe. But, when you have a captive audience of 1,300 people or whatever, there's a chance to just cut loose. You can play a character, and I've built buzz for the bar with it."
Schroeder initially started Twitter to get more publicity for SPTR, as many local chefs had started joining the conversation discussing daily specials and menu changes.
"I always thought it was so unfair that the people who could afford PR were the only ones getting talked about in the local media," said Schroeder. "Twitter is free. And, frankly, I don't see the need to pay someone $1,000 a month to tell The Inquirer the day I'm opening my restaurant. I can use email. Twitter was the perfect platform for me."
John Longacre, owner of the SPTR and Schroeder's boss, wasn't initially wowed by his chef's openness on the social media circuit, but ultimately came around.
"John wasn't really happy about it when I first got started. But, he saw it was harmless, and then we started getting positive responses and people coming by the bar because of my antics, so it was a non-issue," said Schroeder. "You attract people with the masturbation and weed tweets. Then you tell them about an event or a new dish at the restaurant. It's win-win."
Schroeder's tweets don't all revolve around the revolting, though. He's a serious cook, and posts photos of everything he eats while he's dining out, giving props to the chef in the kitchen via Twitter for a job well done.
"There are so many great chefs in Philly not getting any attention because Philly is focused on like three people," said Schroeder. "And, I try to do my part and send my Twitter followers to some of the smaller guys that I know are killing it."
In some cases, though, Schroeder's tweets stomp all over the line of what's appropriate and could be considered offensive. To wit:
"Scott might be shocking, but he's not racist or homophobic," said Jason Ferraro (@UnckleJason on Twitter), one of Schroeder's Twitter followers and an openly gay bartender. "It's his way of being funny, and people need to not take themselves so seriously. It's a character, that's all."
When we asked Ferraro if he thought Schroeder's Twitter feed was a good supplement for a lack of real PR, he agreed completely.
"Scott's very smart. While he might not have a PR team per se, he makes sure he is very friendly with influential food people on social media, and engages them often. That's as good a plan as any. It's calculated," said Ferraro. "But, he's upfront about it, and not disingenuous. You have to respect that."
Schroeder's stream of insanity managed to get the attention of the Starr Restaurant Organization last summer, and landed him a spot in Stephen Starr's pop-up series at The Continental Midtown. For now, though, Schroeder uses his feed to announce new dishes and specials at his latest project, American Sardine Bar. He still makes time to pass judgment on patrons, though, adding the hashtag "#isityou" to keep things discrete and tongue-in-cheek for those following him that happen to be in the bar at the time.
"You have to know your audience. The people who come in here don't give a shit what Philly Mag thinks of my food, or if I'm in The Inquirer this week," said Schroeder. "So, I need to be relevant with blog-readers and engage people on Twitter, because they're the ones who keep the doors open in a place like this. It works. But, it only works because it's an extension of who I am, just slightly exaggerated."