In another example of the ‘most journalists are morons’ category of writing, this article in the Australian yesterday caused some amusement among Melbourne food bloggers and twitterers. It conflates all the digital device related behaviour people engage in in restaurants into an incoherent whine about the loss of etiquette in public places. In the middle are food bloggers, of course. We are obviously the centre of the universe.

There’s a big difference between doing something that only impacts on yourself and your immediate company, such as talking on the phone at your table, and doing things that annoy others, like using flash indiscriminately or allowing children to make lots of noise. But don’t let common sense to get in the way of your petty jibes Anthony.

Not all of us use flash indiscriminately. Many of us publish less than ideal photos because we don’t want to disturb others by using flash. But then the article blames us for publishing bad photos. Try turning up the lights a bit! It doesn’t have to be so dark.

Next came the amateur unqualified insult:

More so than phones, it’s the photography of dishes destined for blogs that have become a hot issue among chefs, who not only resent their food being shot without request by amateurs in often poor lighting conditions but also the too-common outcome – when those images end up accompanying ill-informed restaurant reviews.

Who gets to judge who is an informed food critic? Apparently, critics employed by newspapers think they are the guardians of food criticism. They can fuck right off. The usefulness of a critic’s opinions are judged by readers. Good food writing gets read, bad writing doesn’t. End of story.

As for asking permission, how is a restaurant going to cope with multiple requests from tables all going to the head chef via wait staff? That’s never going to work. How irrational and inefficient.

The article then quotes Jodie Bache-McLean, an alleged ‘etiquette expert’, who says:

My thoughts are that if you choose to publish photographs of a chef’s creations it is polite to ask if a photo can be taken. And I believe that there’s some IP [intellectual property rights] when it comes to a dish that has been prepared by a chef.

Does that mean there’s no IP in dishes not prepared by chefs? What, there’s no IP in my signature breakfast dish, the ‘Gallipoli special’ (toasted Turkish bread spread with butter and vegemite)? When you get your chef certificate from TAFE does it comes with special IP rules? No, I didn’t think so.

Bache-McLean, you’re talking complete utter shit. I’ve scoured the Australian Copyright Council’s website and there’s nothing in it about the IP of the arrangement of food on a plate. Funny that. There’s IP in a written recipe, but not in food on a plate. Unless you want to register it as a design, or define it as sculpture.

Apparently, ‘Bloggers aren’t really there for a purpose, as they have a more sinister purpose.’ Ooh I’m so sinister! Big scary food blogger! If food bloggers have a purpose, it is to expose the stupidity of the people mentioned in the article, along with the journalists intent on maintaining the mediocre status quo.

sinister bloggers

10 thoughts on “sinister bloggers

  • 24 April 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Oh god, that’s totally ridiculous. As if the opinions of those employed by newspapers are important, but those who actually pay for the food they eat don’t deserve to be able to discuss what they’ve eaten!

    I’m not sure either what constitutes a ‘qualified’ opinion on a dining experience in a restaurant. I would think, in exchange for paying money for my food, I would be ‘qualified’ to enjoy it, and if I didn’t enjoy it, to be able to tell people why not, and if I did, to spread the word. This ‘qualification’ comes from being literate and having any semblance of opinion of whether you enjoyed your dining experience or not, not from being ratified by some dang tree-wasting newspaper.

    What really irks me about things like this is it always seems like a thinly veiled attempt to tell people that they do not have the right to their own opinion, as there are media structures who are supposed to form your opinions for you! Who do you think you are, having a mind of your own and not religiously sticking to what Epicure deems ‘hot’?

    And no, there is no intellectual property in a plate of food. There is no intellectual property in a recipe either, only in its written / text form. Ie you can’t cut and paste a recipe as your own writing, but you can copy other people’s food to your heart’s content. That’s how recipes get passed down the generations. You can’t copyright dinner, idiots.

    People (especially the media) get rather shitty when they realise that you don’t need them, and this is how they act out. They better get over it.

  • 24 April 2011 at 4:22 pm

    oh my god, what an idiot. i’m sorry, but i am allowed to have an opinion about food i eat i a restaurant & to tell other people whether it’s good or bad. that’s called word of mouth folks. it doesn’t matter whether it’s verbal, physically written, printed on paper or electronic. food critics have been around for millennia and they’re here to stay no matter how they present it or whether they’re paid or not. someone who believes in their culinary skills should be happy to have people discuss it and photograph it. that’s called advertising (for free!).

    thanks for the rant brian. now i feel better :-)

  • 24 April 2011 at 5:01 pm

    interesting read and article — another dig at social media by traditional media perhaps. i don’t have an ipod, iphone or ipad and avoid using my mobile because it costs money on my prepaid plan and i avoid at all costs using my flash when taking photos of food in restaurants for the common courtesy of other diners and the bad results it can give. but i love taking photos of food in general and sharing my dining experiences on my food blog. i imagine if any food blogger was given the chance to photograph their dishes in nice lighting they would jump at the opportunity. i believe most if not all bloggers desire to take the best photos they can of the dishes they eat. whether they enjoy the food or not is another matter and a personal one. if we want to talk etiquette then let’s step back a bit and talk about those people on buses and trains that love hearing the sound of their own voices and talk about the most personal or trivial things to the person on the other side of their mobiles. i’ve lost count how many times I’ve fantasized about throwing their phones out the window for the peaceful benefit of everyone suffering to their conversations of ‘yeah i’m on the bus, what are you up to blah blah blah for the whole trip’ AHHHHH!!!!

  • 24 April 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I do agree that the way people behave in cafes/restaurants these days with regard to technology is pretty rude and anti-social.

    • 24 April 2011 at 9:52 pm

      I think a lot of this is just nonsense. I don’t care what strangers do as long as they don’t annoy me too much.

  • 25 April 2011 at 12:09 am

    If I had a restaurant or cafe, I’d be very happy for people to come and photograph their meals and promote my venue in their blogs – of course, it goes without saying that I’d have to serve them food that both looked and tasted good, but if I wasn’t doing that, I wouldn’t expect my venue to survive for long.

    I wonder if some people aren’t happy about losing control in this newly communicative world? A pity, because we’re all in it together and as Goran on Criminal Intent might say “the old days are over!”.

  • 27 April 2011 at 1:34 am

    And I have to add too something I forgot. I’m a photographer who loves taking photos of beautifully presented food. If I like the photo I may blog it. I may even talk about the restaurant. Am I sinister?

  • 4 May 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I love it when people get on their high horse about copyright and IP as 90% of the population have no clue about either and are completely wrong.

    (I work in copyright so obviously I have a decent knowledge of it, but seriously people, do your research before you make accusations like that, especially in a national publication)


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