A 25 plus year veteran of the hospitality and lifestyle industry, Scott Feldman, founder and president of Two Twelve Management, is renowned for managing the careers of some of the most significant and notable talent in the epicurean space and executing strategic integrated marketing platforms for consumer brands. Scott’s vast knowledge and experience within the hospitality segment provides Two Twelve with significant domain expertise and operational savvy.
Scott Feldman started Two Twelve Management after an accomplished 12-year career with American Express where as Vice President of Industry Relations he oversaw the brands Restaurant and Entertainment portfolio. Most recently Two Twelve was acquired by Blue Equity Sports Television, LLC (BEST) and today is a fully integrated management firm working with some of the world’s top epicurean, lifestyle and entertainment clientele including names like Geoffrey Zakarian, Michael Symon, Tyler Florence, Marc Murphy, Anne Burrell, Amanda Freitag and more. Named one of Crain’s New York’s 40 Under 40 in 2004 for his leadership in the hospitality industry and impact on the nation’s fast-paced restaurant scene. Scott was also named Boston University’s College of Communication’s Distinguished Alumni for 2009, one of the highest honors that the College bestows upon its Alumni. Along with other philanthropic initiatives, Scott serves as Co Chair of one of the Food Bank for New York’s largest initiatives and fundraisers, the Can Do Gala and Awards.
Total Food Service recently sat down with Scott Feldman to learn more about his career in this month’s Meet the Newsmaker.
Please describe your background and what led you to talent management.
After years with American Express managing the Restaurant & Entertainment portfolio we saw a need to enhance a chef, restaurateur or hospitality personalities positioning and brand opportunity outside the four walls of the “traditional” industry.
How has Two-Twelve Management evolved since its inception?
While we have continued to do business under our core business principals, “client first” and with integrity, we have looked to build upon past successes and bring clients a bigger and more diverse pool of opportunity. We have also made the move to join forces and become a part of the Blue Equity platform, a private investment firm with several talent related portfolio companies.
You have represented some of the world’s most well known chefs including Michael Symon, Tom Colicchio, Geoffrey Zakarian, Tyler Florence and more who were some of your earliest clients, and how did you come to work with some of the top names in the industry?
Almost all the names on our portfolio have been with us from the beginning and we are proud of it as it says a lot about who were are and what we do! Michael Symon and Geoffrey Zakarian were one of the first 2 names but Anne Burrell, Marc Murphy, Tom and others came soon after based on my relationship and reputation in the industry.
What are the most enjoyable and the most stressful aspects of your work?
It’s trite but we love the “art of the deal”. Anyone can negotiate but to truly craft a deal for the mutual long-term benefit of your clients and the buyers is why we became managers in the first place. This comes with the stress of having to see the opportunity start to finish vs. just getting things signed but worth it every time.
How has the role of the chef evolved since you began Two-Twelve Management? Please discuss the introduction of “celebrity chefs.”
In 2004 when we started the company there was a lot of buzz and activity around Food Networks gaining popularity and even BRAVO making a mark with a new generation on Top Chef. We knew that while there were people who worked with the “celebrity” set of chefs, there was an opportunity for a new slate of names to become talent.
What is the path for a chef that wishes to attain celebrity status? What are the prerequisites?
We are asked this all the time and while first and foremost you have to have the “it factor”, it’s about patience, practice and hard work like any other profession. There is no class in culinary school on how to be a celebrity chef and with the proliferation of “digital” based talent and a new generation of audiences, the competition is that much harder to stand out. So “Hard Work” still wins as a prerequisite.
Do you believe the influence of and the culture surrounding television celebrity chefs has had a positive or a negative impact on the restaurant and foodservice industries?
I think it has been positive! The impact of Food television has just broadened the audience and introduced a younger and more “hungry” audience to the world.
You have been referred to as the “Ari Gold of the restaurant industry.” Please discuss your reaction to that.
First a humble smile! Then I like to say I’m a good cross between the Ari character and E from HBO’s Entourage, get the deal done but also have some fun!
What are some of the emerging trends in the restaurant industry? How do you keep your clients ahead of the curb, before industry developments become industry movements?
One of the points of differentiation with us is our experience and acumen within the industry. Managing “talent” is first and foremost but 99.9% of our clients are industry professionals first and fame came later so we try to engage on all levels, keeping an eye on what’s on the horizon.
What does the future of Two-Twelve Management look like?
With the recent announcement of us being acquired by Blue Equity, I like to say the future is all “Blue Skies”. They have been in representation in multiple areas of sports and entertainment and it affords us a great resource. I truly have not been this excited about the business and opportunity for our clients since I started the company.
For more information on Scott Feldman and Two Twelve Management, please visit their website.