Food Bloggers has a negative connotation these days, especially amongst restaurants, professional food critics and of course those of us who enjoy food but don’t wish to rain on anyone’s parade. It seems that anyone with a blog and who dines can try to make or break any restaurant establishment while hiding behind their computer with unfair criticisms, thinking they have some power (and unfortunately they do) and they abuse it, and its truly unfair to the restaurant industry. Its a very tough business and most go into it only hoping to break even while doing what they truly love.
Let me say this. I am not a professional food critic. Which means, I am not paid to test, taste and/or try food and write about it in a newspaper, magazine or major website column. Even if I were a professional, I would insist on paying for all my meals and tipping the wait staff appropriately. I know many major food critics do not pay for their food, and are often treated with more than generous care. Those who are more aware of this register reservations under fake names and go in disguise so they are not recognized and can give a true, honest opinion about the place they are dining.
Then of course, you have someone from a local or regional newspaper or magazine that reviews food and they stroll into a restaurant, are served graciously all the best dishes, then leave no tip and leave.
Again, I am not a professional, I don’t pay for what I do. I pay my way to eat food and give it my most honest opinion based on my tastes and expectations. I don’t do anything mean-spirited, I try to call them like I see and taste them. If someone is rude, I can understand that to a point, but at some point I must note that. I myself am in the hospitality business and its not always easy to be pleasant when you are in a bad mood and dealing with people who are less than reasonable. But if the person you are dealing with is pleasant and you are in a bad mood, there is no reason in the world why you cannot, at the very least, be polite.
Some examples…. once in Chelsea, New York I asked for bread. It did not come, I asked again and he said “I heard you” at that point I had to say, ok, fine, I didn’t know you heard me because you did not acknowledge” Really, its that simple. More recently, I asked about lunch specials and the waiter was annoyed he had to point out they were on the BACK page (normally they are on the first page) then when I asked about other options, again, he fumbled and the sushi chef had to remind him where on the menu those items were. If the waiter did not know on the menu where thing were, why would he become frustrated with me when I ask where they are?
I love food, I love to eat, I love new experiences. I pay for everything and leave a 20% tip at least, 15% if I am not happy, but if you piss me off, you are lucky if its 10% or anything at all, because at that point, I will never return. I know these places have to do business to stay in business, and I am all than more happy to pay full price and tip well, but if I am going to be treated like another customer with a paid bill to get me in/out the door with no courtesy, then I will note that in my blog and reviews.
I don’t wish to harm anyone, or any business. But if you treat me unkindly when I am spending money to keep you in business just for one more day, you had best be polite even if the food sucks.
More than anything, I know I don’t have a big following on my blog. Most of it serves as merely a personal diary so when my memory gets fuzzy and I am looking for a good, reasonable, friendly place to eat 1 year from now, I can go back to this reference and see what my past experience is. While my memory fails as I get older, my documented experiences allow me to make a better choice, I can forgive and try again, but if I am disappointed on more than 2-3 occasions, thats it. There are plenty of other places that deserve my money, or not. I keep trying and obviously the places with the best experiences will keep me coming back and earn my business.
My last point about foodies, food bloggers, etc, is, pay full price for your meal. Until you pay full price, you are not really objective about the value or quality of the food. Until you spend you own hard-earned money and setting it down for a meal, you really cannot say “yea this was great, but I am not sure its worth $15 for an appetizer”. $15 appetizer is great when its free, but when you are paying for it, would you really pay $15 again for it, or was it so amazing that you would pay $15 each and every time you visit even though its the only thing you order? I know places like that, I go in there and only order the appetizer with no shame. But when I pay for the food I earn the right to criticize it. Not in a malicious way, but in an objective way. I hope I accomplish that here.