Alexandre Gauthier, amateur photographer, Bouley, camera phone in restaurants, Chef’s Intellectual property, food p0rn, food photography, French chefs, Grenouillere, Instagram, internet, live-stream meals, photographing food in restaurants, photography ban, smart phone, social media, South Korea
I am guilty, as I’m sure many people in the UK are, of whipping out my camera phone and taking a sneaky snap of a beautifully presented meal in a restaurant. My excuse would always be that photos are purely for work purposes and rarely leave my smart phone, however the trend in posting pictures of food on social media seems to be at its height right now.
Apart from perhaps appearing slightly rude to your fellow diners, this rising trend of ‘food p0rn’ on social media seems to be causing a bit of upset amongst chefs. In essence, that beautiful dish is the chef’s intellectual property. I think it fair to say that most diners are not budding David Baileys, and although Instagram can hide a multitude of sins of the amateur photographer, a smart phone does not do total justice to the culinary delight delicately put together by the skilled chef.
Recently a group of French chefs have taken matters into their own hands by completely banning photography in their restaurants. Alexandre Gauthier, chef at Grenouillere has even signposted the ban to ensure that customers are in no doubt of his feelings of exploitation when his dishes are tweeted. New York restaurant Bouley has come up with a solution to the problem by only allowing photos to be taken in the kitchen under the guidance of the chefs and presenting them to the customer on paying the bill. In South Korea this trend has been taken to the next level where diners even live-stream their evening meals to audiences of thousands.
With my chef hat on, I can easily see how upsetting it can be when a dish you have worked tirelessly and passionately on for hours is not done total justice in a photo, and is then taken totally out of your control in the public domain of the internet. However, I have also felt the pride when a customer who I cook for is delighted enough with what I create, that they want to snap and share it.
The internet is the ultimate way of connecting people and I want as many people to experience the food I create, providing an all-inclusive vehicle through social media. This extends out to customers too, giving them a chance to feel connected through food. In Italy, food is the fundamental way in which families and friends connect. Sometimes the total customer service element of a dining experience can be forgotten in the face of the pride of the chef protecting their dish. Those people in South Korea might seem slightly bonkers to us for live streaming their meals, however, in country where a quarter of the population live and dine on their own, why not find comfort with connecting with others at meal times?