Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SF food bloggers should grow spines, not hide behind keyboards, say (lame!) chefs. (Was that passive aggressive??)

Mix a bunch of a high end chefs together with some wine, radio tape recorders and a stuffy, older audience at the Commonwealth Club. Allow to simmer for half an hour or so. The inevitable result? Bashing on food bloggers!
Steffan Terje, Perbacco: It's a pradigm shift, a new generation is taking over. I guess we have to get used to this -- everybody's a critic. I don't know if I like it yet.

Michael Dellar, Lark Creek Restaurant Group, darkly: Think of the alternative ... (chuckles) [veiled Michael Bauer reference?? --ed.]

Pete Sittnick, Pat Kuleto's new restaurants: I would rather, if that person had a problem, just tell me that night. Don't put it on some blog I don't know how to access.

Steffan: We're in the people business, shaking hands, kissing babies [shurely againsht health code? -ed.] .... We thrive on this instant feedback.

Dellar: [Story about a customer recently in the restaurants who insisted there was a finger nail in his/her blended, frozen lemonade, when really it was a lemon peel, even when shown the peel. One hour later it was on the Internet.] It's everyone's right to do that.
Yup. They actually want you to be direct, and complain, with your vocal chords, in person, instead of scribbling in your little blogger notebook and angrily belting out your mad little screed on your blog or Yelp or whatever you kids are calling it these days. You know, since that is likely to be well received in the typical restaurant, a cauldron of mentally-imbalanced cooks armed with knives, bitter waiters with your credit card number and clueless, coke-addled hostesses who could not care less about your petty third degree burns or whatnot.

Just kidding! Actually if you use this thing called "tact," apparently you can stand up for yourself in situations like these. So it is rumored. And with these things called "Google Alerts," restaurant owners don't have to complain about not being able to "access" your blog or whatever, but that's beside the point.

Oh, also? Your precious Craig Stoll at Delfina? Who feeds Thomas Keller when Tommy comes to SF? He promises to burst your eardrums, underpay his cooks and raise your prices!

Stoll on prices: People will be getting used to higher price menus for everyubody,

You name the city, and restaurants on par with the people at this table are easily 4,5,6,7 dollars higher (per entree).

Stoll on noise: Our architects -- it's their fault! [Joke -- laughter.] If you have a booked place, it's going to be loud. You want your restaurant to be busy and exciting.

Honest to God, I want a certain level of noise.

On cooks: If we paid cooks what they were worth, people wouldn't be able to afford to eat in our restaurant.

Some additional details from Laura Froelich: 2nd Annual State of San Francisco Restaurants

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Carter said...

Hi Ryan, Quite droll post, so it has been linked to on Food Notebook's media alert.

Of course the chefs' complaints about bloggers are both justified and not particularly relevant. Whether it is mainstream critics like Bauer -- who is also not a big fan of bloggers --, Zagat Guides or Yelp, restaurateurs just need to deal with folks looking over their shoulders.

I had a public relations staffer at a major SF restaurant rip into me because of a review I wrote that pointed out the less than stellar service. Hmm, did that improve my opinion. Contrast that with Viognier, where the general manager and chef thoughtfully addressed a negative review. That lured me back to the restaurant resulting in a great experience.

July 25, 2007 5:55 AM  
Ryan said...

Hey Carter, I'm glad you found it least somewhat amusing ;-> Also, your note prompted me to open up my RSS reader thing for the first time since I got back from honeymoon. I really need to catch up on my food blogs. (Deep sigh ...) Wish me luck ....

July 25, 2007 8:55 AM  
Kandice said...

If you dine at a restaurant, you have every right to be a critic. Darnit, you've paid for it! If I kvetch about my Mac woes on an on-line computer forum, I doubt Steve Jobs will go around calling me a nincompoop!

July 25, 2007 4:38 PM  
Anonymous said...

Bloggers are entitled to post there opinions on any subject. I feel like the response to the chefs, posted in this article was very defensive. Food bloggers and chefs work in the same trade/business. There shouldn't be anamosity or attitude. There should be more of a sense of comradery. If a blogger goes into a restaurant, it doesn't need to be a spy mission. It can be a chance to meet the people who make it happen. The last paragraph of the article proves that.
Is eater.com on the restaurants' side?

July 25, 2007 9:36 PM  
Anonymous said...

"Is eater.com on the restaurants' side?"

Absolutely not. The majority of their information is negative, the links are almost always petty griping and sniping.

And who are all these food bloggers? And some reviewers? What gives them the right to judge and mouth off about it? Besides it's a 'god-given' right in this country to complain about everything to everyone! Oh, and their desire for a paycheck.

You have issues with a restaurant, bring it up at the time...don't go home seething and then decide to mount your soapbox of indignation. Have the decency and ability to be forthright at that moment. That will probably help the rest of the dining world you all profess to "watching out for" more.

July 26, 2007 3:59 AM  
SaltShaker said...

Chefs (and I'm one as well as a blogger) ought to be glad that food bloggers are out there. Let's face it, prior to blogging, people who had a bad experience (or good one), still didn't run up to the manager or chef to complain or compliment, they simply went home and told all their friends, word of mouth, and the restaurants never heard about either the bad or good. Sure a blog reaches (hopefully) more people than just a person's circle of friends, but it's also out there in the open, public, where the restaurant can find out what someone is saying, and, most blogs allow them to address the post, as Carter pointed out.

July 26, 2007 6:28 AM  
Anonymous said...

Chefs should be grateful that people are even talking about their place. Most restaurants fail (that is a statistic). offputting. And re. airing grievances at the restaurant. Listen, if I am out with my family & the food or service sucks, I am not going to ruin my family's night by arguing with the manager. I just won't go back, EVER. And you bet I will tell everyone and his mother not to go there.

July 26, 2007 7:28 AM  
Anonymous said...

With regards to this:
"Listen, if I am out with my family & the food or service sucks, I am not going to ruin my family's night by arguing with the manager. I just won't go back, EVER. And you bet I will tell everyone and his mother not to go there."

is every day in your life perfect? when you go to work do you succeed every day without fail? make no mistakes? ZERO mishaps?

if so, and i mean this honestly, tell me how?

you approach the manager etc like the nice person you seem to be, away from the table, and voice a five minute or less opinion/observation. see if it can be fixed.

then, cause we're all human, maybe you give them the chance to fix it or come back again to see if it is better.

if it continues sub-par, then ditch it and move on. and tell folks you recommend not going. EVER.

but unless you're perfect, everyone and thing deserves a second chance.

July 26, 2007 7:27 PM  

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