Jeez, talk about your overblown title -
Restaurants vs. Bloggers: Rage Against the Machine
In the 21st Century, High-Powered Chefs Are Forced to Listen to the Little Guy — as Long as He Has a Keyboard
Ugh. There’s so much wrong here that I’m not sure where to start.
First and foremost – Yelp and Chowhound are not food blogs. Please oh please stop confusing the mediums.
Secondly, not all food blogs deal in restaurant reviews, for every Adam, there’s a Clotilde; for every Pim, there’s a Heidi. The difference between them is that Adam and Pim write about restaurants, and Heidi and Clotilde do not.
I find this above comparison striking, because while the publishing world lauds Clotilde and Heidi for their writing and their food knowledge, chefs and restaurateurs dismiss Pim, Adam and others for the lack of food knowledge. Where’s the logic? A food blog is only as good, only as knowledgeable, and only as trustworthy as the people running it. Passionate people tend to know a lot about the items they are passionate about.
Finally, are food blogs really that much of a threat? The biggest criticism I hear about food blogs is the lack of knowledge and understanding the blog writers have in discerning a restaurant’s intent.
Let’s ignore the premise for the moment that anyone who dines needs to know who Escoffier and This are in order to “get” food. Instead let’s focus on communicating the food’s “intent” (whatever that means).
If I’m served a dish that has what I believe to be too much butter in the sauce, but the recipe for the sauce was a traditional one used in Cuisine classique, am I at fault for not getting the subtle tastes of lemon or whatnot in the sauce, and how it complimented the dish it was presented with? Or is the chef at fault for not effectively communicating the the sauce used goes well with fish or that the dish was an attempt to play with ideas of balancing the delicate with the bold? Whether I have an educated palate or not, I’m still going to think that the sauce has too much butter.
Because taste is subjective, there is no right or wrong answer to the above questions. And because restaurants are first and foremost a place of business, it’s up to a chef and restaurateur to create a place the keeps customers coming into the front door. Customers which include food bloggers who can afford meals with price tags of forty dollars per plate or more.
What I think it comes down to is this: Restaurant reviews from Food Blogs offer a reflection upon a momentary experience. And if that moment carries an unfortunate event, that event is either an indication of something systemic going on within the restaurant, or an anomaly. If it’s an anomaly, there’s little a chef or owner can do about it except apologize. If it’s something systemic, then the chef or owner should already know about it and be working on fixing it, or realize it is a problem…and then work on fixing it.
Because let me tell you restaurant owners out there something that should be readily apparent – 100% of your clientele are food critics. It’s just that only .001% (give or take) get paid for it.
(Note to self: Must remember that “Uneducated Palate” would make a great punk bank name.)