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How Chefs Feel About Food Critics and Food Bloggers

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http://chefandsteward.com/2012/11/09/...

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  1. Here is a good take on the subject as well.
    http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2013/10...

    1. Considering how much time food bloggers put into their pages, comb through their intake pile and share, share, share with readers I find the quick knee jerk reaction to kick back off putting. Food bloggers are the hot topic, sometimes more than the chef, these days and maybe this is why some chefs are miffed.

      But food blogging is not all rosey. Facebook is now charging food bloggers. Example: http://www.theculinarylife.com/ and the blogging community is pulling out of FB in record numbers for more welcoming accommodations.

      Food bloggers are more accessible than chefs and have to endure the countless and endless scrutiny, Ex: http://themarlborowoman.com/ of people who do what exactly? Create a hate-on food blogger blog! Crazy!

      So how (some) chefs feel about food critics and food bloggers may not be entirely fair or with the full understanding that many (not all) put a great deal of work into their blogs.

      4 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        It's the same for music and arts bloggers. My expertise is in jazz and musicians routinely get put off by bloggers because they "just didn't understand their music," etc. I have a ton of writer friends, some of whom wrote for years for the NYT, Village Voice, Boston Globe, LA Times, etc., and were no longer being paid because the bloggers had taken over and were writing for free. Forget that they had no historical references or professional training in being an arts critic. They were working for FREE and most of them were horrible.

        But that was before the dust settled on the newspaper business and social media became the primary force for marketing or blogging and they all figured out a way to make a little money.

        Still, reviewing any art form is a tricky business. If you do it well and are fair, the subject (if he's a professional) will listen and perhaps take the critic's advice and change whatever it is they were criticizing. I've known many musicians who have done this and it has been very helpful to them. On the other hand, if you're blogging to make yourself look important, I can see the gripe. Ego--on both sides--plays a huge role. The word "diva" is not just for singers and actresses--it applies here as well.

        1. re: sandiasingh

          Excellent analogy and some really good points, sandi.

          1. re: HillJ

            One of my favorite pieces on the role of the critic, from one of my favorite food movies, wonderfully performed by the late Peter O'Toole:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOWpf7...

            1. re: ratgirlagogo

              Animation masterpiece.

      2. This is a different time and a different world. For the goods or the bads, now restaurants are taking advantages of food bloggers as those on yelp and on google reviews and others.

        <Can they cook 30 steaks in 40 minutes at different temperatures while listening to the chef calling the orders and remembering each order and getting it correctly? The job of a chef is very demanding>

        While this is true, this is part of their jobs. If they cannot handle the pressure and the demand, then should they be in this business? Moreover, food critics almost always "grade on a curve". It is all about this restaurant compares to the other restaurants.

        <If I came to your house for dinner, criticized all your furniture and your wife’s haircut and said all your opinions were stupid, how would you feel?”>

        Is that even a fair comparison? If you come to my house, then it is probably due to my generosity and grace. If I come to your restaurant, then it is because you have an open business. I don't understand why restaurants are above criticisms compare to other businesses. Don't we criticize All Clad cookware, Bank of America, Chrysler, Apple iPhone? Maybe Apple should say "If I use your phone call my friends and family, and use it to listen to music and to play games, and then I criticize your cell phone being slow and not having good signal, how would you feel?"

        <In ending I say chefs are human beings also.>

        No one says they are not human beings.

        <So when you criticize a restaurant do so knowing that you may put certain amount of people out of a job. >

        True, but that is true for any criticism. When I complain about a certain brand of car, I may also put certain amount of people out of a job too. I don't know any criticism do not do so.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Criticism can also be a sign that more training, more preparation may be required. Not necessarily a lost cause or the end of the line. Frankly, most people dislike criticism, it's a natural reaction. What I find unfortunate is the tendency to blame others when criticized. If we can't be objective about our own performance, why should anyone else be?

          1. re: HillJ

            I don't think it is abnormal to be defensive about criticisms, and I also understand that chefs can be under a lot of stresses and do not "need" food bloggers or food critics to getting on their backs. However, this is part of the business now.

            People are going to write about their experience in your restaurant. People are going to blog about their experience with the newest iPhone. People are going to discuss the latest Congressional Budget Deal....etc.

            Maybe our congressmen should also say "Hey, you should not talk about my congressional voting record because, you know, I may lose my next election"

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Ironically, food bloggers run into the same issues. Especially food bloggers making a living at it. They are criticized all the time and now blogging is THEIR business. I don't know what the answer is for a chef overly concerned about what people will write or share about their craft but how much scrutiny can you avoid when your livelihood is based upon feeding the public?

              1. re: HillJ

                <now blogging is THEIR business>

                I completely forgotten about this. Thanks.

                <I don't know what the answer is for a chef overly concerned about what people will write or share about their craft >

                My understanding is that restaurants and chefs are actually taking advantages of these new media. I often see restaurants who put up signs like "Please vote for us on Yelp" (something along that line).

                It is really a double edge sword. Social media can hurt a restaurant, but can also help a restaurant. Is the newer social media platform fair? I don't know. Does this make the restaurant business business better? I don't know neither.

                I only do know that this is the trend, and I don't see this going away. I think chefs need to get used to this (like it or not). Just like old politicians had to get used to TV interviews. Presidential candidates had to get used to presidential debate (in TV format).

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I agree with you regarding the double edge. I find that many chefs have been forced into blogging themselves in order to retain their own voice over their own cuisine and restaurant coverage. I don't believe most chefs have any time or interest in blogging, they just can't ignore the trend. Even the chef in this article makes the point of mentioning he blogs.

                  Being forced into speaking up when you would rather the food/menu speak for you has to be a real frustration. And you know until the whole celeb chef thing took hold of our culture, most chefs were content being invisible 90% of the time. No longer a luxury.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    <Being forced into speaking up when you would rather the food/menu speak for you has to be a real frustration.>

                    So true, but one must just tell themselves that it is for "better communication" and "getting in touch" and "listening to the people"

                    Afterall, that is what politicians tell themselves. I am sure many of them rather let their works/votes speak for themselves. However, in practice, they all have to go around to give speeches, participate live debate, visiting school children, kiss babies....etc. I heard many politicians do not like to do these, but they have to. They understand it is part of their jobs now.

                    I guess the job description of modern chefs is slowly evolving.

                    I do know some restaurants are prone to this "social network effect" more than others. If you are working in the hippest restaurants in the town, then you will be constantly evaluated and judged.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      It's very simple. It's called branding, and it is a must if you are in any kind of artistic field. Chefs, musicians, writers--they all have to do the same thing to keep their faces in front of the public constantly. It is exhausting and distracting but it is a number one requirement these days. And people know when you have a ghost posting for you. Look at Michael Symon. He's on FB and Twitter all the time and after many criticisms that it wasn't really him posting, he took a picture of himself with a dated newspaper and posted that! Luckily he has a great sense of humor :-)

                      1. re: sandiasingh

                        <It's very simple. It's called branding....>

                        Very well put.

                        <he took a picture of himself with a dated newspaper>

                        Ha ha ha.

        2. a chef should know how to cook

          3 Replies
          1. re: Gastronomos

            Yes....

            Do chefs, or anyone else like negative feedback, in the performance of the profession they chose?

            Of course not.

            1. re: 9lives

              No, you're right. But as I said upthread, if it's coming from a professional, knowledgeable and respected critic, they might take it to heart and acknowledge that it's not personal, it's a legitimate criticism and they may see it as valuable advice.

              1. re: 9lives

                "The fact I am trying to make here is ... ... when one criticizes his/her work it needs to be balanced and not done like Fox News."

                that stupid statement alone dismisses him and his blog as bullsh!p and I will never allow him to even try to show how good of a kitchen manager he may or may not be.