Some French chefs are not impressed by the increasing number of bloggers and amateur “food reporters” who post photos and reviews of dining experiences online.
Foodie sites allow users to post pictures of meals and give their verdict on restaurant experiences. Since March, more than 100,000 users have taken photographs of their meals on the food reporter site.
“We started by launching a page on facebook asking people to take photos of what they were eating and within two weeks, more than one thousand people had joined,” said one of the founders, Cyril Benhamou.
The users upload photos of the dishes they are eating at the restaurant and award 'miams,' the equivalent of 'likes' on facebook. Using these reviews, the application then allows users to find the best cakes or the best sushi near them. “More than 1,000 photos are posted each day,” said Benhamou. “Around mealtimes, that increases to one every two or three seconds.”
Philippe Etchebest, a Michelin-starred chef based in Saint-Émilion, is not a fan of the internet and the new generation of self-appointed food critics. “Recently, a customer photographed my dishes. It was funny at first but then he started demanding to see the kitchens and that got on my nerves. Often the photos are poor quality. I welcome their remarks in person, but not on blogs,” Etchebest added.
Olivier Mille, chef at the Fleur du Sel restaurant in La Garenne-Colombes, Paris, has mixed feelings on the topic. He thinks it’s great his dishes are seen by people on the other side of the world but complains about bloggers who make incendiary comments. “We put a lot of love into our food to satisfy our customers. If you take pleasure in slating my work on the internet, that bothers me.”
Established restaurant guides are adapting to this new wave of food bloggers. “It means we have to adapt and work differently,” said Patricia Alexandre, managing editor of the influential French restaurant guide Gault et Millau.
Indeed, Gault et Millau now includes QR codes in its paper editions, and the Michelin Guide has launched a smartphone application. “We should accept the co-existence of experts and amateur reviewers,” said Alexandre, “because they all have the right [to an opinion].”
– AFP with Wine Searcher staff