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May 4, 2009 12:19 PM

phx - alienating the foodie community [Moved from Southwest board]

finally, a thread on this ;) i do expect that the chowhound moderaters will move this because in the overall scheme of things, its not simply a phoenix issue.

there's something that has really been bothering me about food blogging/foodie sites in general lately. it seems to me that at some point the tenor of some posts have changed from food enthusiast to entitled foodie.

while i think it's great to talk about food, because its pretty much all i do, and my friends will tell you that ;), it's just talking. great conversations, but it is just talking.

i hear from restaurateurs that its gotten to the point where people will announce 'i'm a food blogger, my user name/web page is so and so' before a meal with the implication, as one restaurant owner told me 'to dare them to either not kiss their ass or give them something free'. and, sadly, ive read of other yelpers as well as chowhounds, who are blatant about calling ahead for freebies before meals in lieu of nice comments, etc etc

there is power in saying that a restaurant sucks. or is great. i find out about alot of places from chowhound posters that i really trust. i think we can all recognize a shill poster on here when we see them.

so when posts on chowhound seem to turn to out and out call outs of a particular restaurant, or even begin to question their reasoning behind a particular policy or dish, or make prognostications that a particular place is alienating the foodie community, what does that mean exactly?

there's no official club of foodies. there's no litmus test for who has a decent palate.

there's no objective criteria about what is too much salt. there's no inalienable right to the bottomless bread basket. there's no license to do what you want in a restaurant, or for a particular place to cater to any person's particular taste or whim.

it's great that owners come to sites like this and read what people have to say.

but i often wonder at some point when the backlash itself is going to start to kick in. why listen to on-line food enthusiast types when there isn't a consensus of opinion? why pay attention when sometimes the critiques come across as nit picking and whining? why consider what someone says on-line when there's no accountability to the words? are some reviews, positive or negative, truly even impartial?

maybe it's just me. but i can't imagine any other business context telling someone they should change the color of their interior, alter how they do business, announce all their policies in fine print on both the menu, website and to everyone who calls the phone, and on and on.

we're foodies. we love food. we don't have a consensus of opinion on anything. we're not ENTITLED to anything either, whether its that the website change, i can take pix, or that it will even be the perfect meal.

each business has its own business model, and the right to run it exactly how they want. they don't have to defend choices to us, because clearly we're not seeing the whole picture.

i'm just really tired of people judging restaurants on whatever prosaic criteria they think should be involved in the restaurant itself and less on the food they are served. not what you wish was served, but what was served.

restaurateurs are open to doing what they want, when they want, and how they want. and we're free to eat there. or not. i hope i never get to the point where i feel like i'm self-important enough to think any restaurant should change what they are doing based on what I THINK.

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  1. >>> sadly, ive read of other yelpers as well as chowhounds, who are blatant about calling ahead for freebies before meals in lieu of nice comments, etc etc

    Wow, that is SO against Chowhound policy I'm surprised a moderator didn't respond. If you know of anyone doing that please report it so that report might be removed.

    As to the rest, some people are passionate about food. Some of the food fights on the board about the perfect piece of pizza or best baguette almost amount to uncivil war.

    When I see someone ranting about a place for reasons other than the food, I just ask them about what they ate. That is the beauty of the discussion format. Unlike Yelp, you cant just dump and run.

    Any restaurant owner worried about a single poster is foolish. As far as I know, yelpers haven't yet formed into organized packs ripping out the throats of restaurant owners if their demands aren't met. A bad or out of place review is recognized for that, even on yelp. It is the whole picture that is important.Restaurants shouldn't sweat the small people.

    1. Hi winedubar,

      I do get what you're saying.

      Some notes may help owners. As you state, people are free to eat or not at any given restaurant. If there are some issues or concerns and owners/managers or even employees know about those, then that might help business. I hope so anyway.

      I do some restaurant reviews or stories on my own web site and blog, but I don't mention that. I want the typical experience so that my information will reflect realtiy.

      If I want to take photos afterwards, then I will ask about that.

      I'm sure some people are unprofessional in writing on food/cooking/restaurants and that some just look for freebies, but I think/hope that it's the exception.

      1. You raise very valid points however, the wordsmiths have a very large notepad from which to share their point of view. For me, it's an amazing (new) tool.

        In this day and age we all have VOICED opinions, from many pulpits; some bullies sure but the larger more generous community still rains and for that I'm not only a subscriber but a firm believer that having a voice about food helps more than harms the education of among many things, food-speak.

        Blogs are personal journals. Bloggers cultivate their own time & talents and hope (or not) for a hit a nerve, drive the car of consensus-conversational marketing. Online club think. Some food bloggers are so good they've landed book deals and careers in the process; others blow in the wind.

        Readers like us, have choices too. Embrace the parts you love and leave the rest.

        I enjoyed your observation, winedubar.

        1 Reply
        1. re: HillJ

          I do some technical writing, so it is fun to relax and talk food. Yes. It is a joy and blessing to have spaces to share. I don't think I'd like a career linked to food. I understand that many people dream of that. For me, it's the friends and family and finding new products and recipes. And, I like to share to help others. I'm often asked, "What do you sell?" I try to remember not to say, "I'm just a writer." That sounds like it does not have value, and I think it does. I guess most people think there's a catch with everything these days. On my end, I consider it randon acts of kindness to mention the good stuff. Other people share with me, and I just like to pass that along.