A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a journalist who was working on a piece for NPR about food bloggers–or “food paparazzi”–and whether their photos and reviews were helpful or hurtful to restaurants, if their shots are “sleek and beautiful” or “harmful and amateur”. And then she asked if she could use some of my pictures from Colicchio & Sons.
I wrote back and said, “I have to laugh, knowing that you’re asking because those photos in particular are the exact opposite of sleek and beautiful.” She replied, “We do want to show a range of photos, of all qualities, so I’m glad that my request seems transparent.”
I bragged to everyone that NPR was going to make fun of my photos, because like they say, all press is good press. And in actuality, I was excited about the piece, because I have no idea why food bloggers are getting such a bad rap lately. Suddenly, I see articles everywhere about diners setting up tripods and lights, standing on their chairs to get better angles, and letting their food get cold while they take the perfect shot. Obviously my boyfriend and I eat out a lot–literally more than anyone else I know–and I’ve never EVER seen someone use a tripod, extra lights, or their chairs as stepstools.
Anyway, despite showcasing two of my photos, the the NPR article totally disappointed me. I guess the author wanted to take an unbiased stance, but I know I couldn’t have helped but rip into her when the VP of Operations and New Projects at Craft Restaurants said “she doesn’t want amateur food writers influencing people’s dining decisions”.
The same woman also said, “When you feel like they’re having that influence without really knowing what they’re talking about, it’s very frustrating.” Sorry, not really knowing what we’re talking about? Because to enjoy or not enjoy food, you must have endured hours of classical training? Well, I’ve endured years of classical eating, bitch.
I’m sort of just kidding about that, but the thing is: my photos show what the food REALLY looks like under the ACTUAL restaurant lighting. In fact, if I’ve Photoshopped my pictures, then the food looks BETTER than it did in the restaurant.
When it comes to reviewing, I don’t order things I don’t expect to like, and I have a very open mind. If your dish doesn’t delight me, there’s something wrong with it. I’m aware of my biases against seafood, tomatoes, mushrooms, and desserts that don’t fill me up to the point of puking, and I make sure my readers are aware of that bias, too, so they can tailor my reviews to their needs accordingly.
And the idea that restaurants could possibly hate being written about blows my mind. How many times have I gone somewhere (Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant, The Mark, most recently) just because I wanted to argue with someone else’s (the New York Times) negative review of it?
Restaurants should be taking advantage of food bloggers, not poo-pooing us.