Bad news! Chefs discover the Internet

The New York Times finds that some restaurateurs are angry -- and really like tweeting about it

Topics: Restaurant Culture, Restaurants, Food,

Watch out everybody! Chefs have discovered this internet thingy — and they’re pissed off! In today’s New York Times, Julia Moskin delves into an emerging, and highly entertaining new internet phenomenon: The chef flame war.

As Moskin writes, many chefs are increasingly using Twitter, blogs and other websites to get even with people who are getting on their nerves. They’re hitting back at critics (Kitchen Cabinet member Amanda Cohen took to her website to rebut her restaurant’s New York Times dining section review). They’re sniping at each other (NY restaurateur Joe Dobias attacked superstar chef David Chang, Baohaus’ Eddie Huang called one of his competitor restaurants a “hellhole”). They’re striking back at uninformed bloggers (LA chef Ludovic Lefebre’s wife, Kristine, reduced one food blogger to tears by pointing out that her husband’s tuna tartare isn’t “underdone,” that’s the way it’s meant to be), and taking user-reviewers to task (California chef Jason Neroni’s Twitter stream: “Yelp is for cowards.”) Oof. It’s like the Wild West out there!

As one chef points out in the article, this kind of grandstanding is part of what eaters’ now expect from a big-name chef — “they want us to be rock stars” — but it has far more to do with the way that the internet has changed the way people read and learn about restaurants. As Francis Lam recently wrote on Salon, the traditional restaurant critic is going through some tough times these days. Unlike  other forms of criticism, people use restaurant criticism primarily as a barometer of whether or not a place is worth visiting. Now internet can do the same job, on a much bigger scale.



You Might Also Like

Websites like Yelp allow diners to post their own reviews in a matter of minutes, Twitter and Facebook allows them to instantly broadcast their verdict to all of their friends, and bloggers can help make and unmake food trends. There’s something very empowering about the way the internet is, like so many other industries, democratizing the restaurant world. As NYU professor Krishnendu Ray recently told me in a conversation about Indian food, the emergence of new media even helps speed the uptake of exotic ethnic cuisines into the mainstream of America. “People have always trumpeted rare ethnic foods, but now they have a byline.”

Obviously, there’s a down side. For restaurateurs with an upscale and detail-oriented cuisine, it can be infuriating to read a review written by somebody who doesn’t know much about food (“I’ve never had sweetbread, but this sweetbread sucks”), and it’s only logical that chefs, especially chefs with reputations to protect, start fighting back. If anything, it’s surprising that David Chang wasn’t telling bloggers to screw off five years ago. It may not be the most civil of developments, but it’s certainly not a surprise — and, for fans of internet feuds, this is good news indeed.

Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    jkrebs04, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 1

    Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada

    akvarog, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 2

    Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

    iMAGICations, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 3

    Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, U.S.

    jhgraphicsusa, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 4

    Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

    Robert R., DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 5

    Colosseum, Rome, Italy

    Anythingoes, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 6

    Taj Mahal, Agra, India

    Sergio Coelho, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 7

    Siena Cathedral, Siena, Italy

    Anythingoes, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 8

    Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    iMAGICations,DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 9

    Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

    iMAGICations, DesignCrowd.com

    Cities without landmarks

    Slide 10

    Lost City of Petra, Jordan

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>