• Sun
  • Jul 13, 2014
  • Updated: 3:02pm
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PHOTOGRAPHY

Angry French chefs rebel against 'food porn' photographs taken by diners

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 5:17am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 February, 2014, 5:17am

The next time you try to take a picture of your dinner in a posh French restaurant, don't be surprised if an angry chef comes storming out of the kitchen.

Fed up with patrons snapping with their smartphones to post on social networks, several Michelin-starred French establishments are trying to crack down on so-called "food porn".

Food bloggers, and even some chefs, defend the pictures as free publicity, but for many the sharing has just gone too far.

"There's a time and a place for everything," said Alexandre Gauthier, chef at La Grenouillere in the northern town of La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil.

"We are trying to give our clients a break in their lives. For that, you need to turn off your mobile," he said.

Short of formally banning photographs in his restaurant, Gauthier has put an image of a camera with a strike-through on his menu. "People just won't disconnect any more," he said. "Before they used to take photos of their family ... but now it's photos of dishes.

"It is gratifying, but we're a restaurant without very much light, so they have to use a flash. And with each dish it's 'stop everything', or the photo has to be retaken three times.

"It's Tweeted, liked, comments are made and replied to. By then the dish is cold."

Gilles Goujon, chef at the three-starred L'Auberge du Vieux Puits in the southern town of Fontjoncouse, said he was increasingly frustrated with the poor etiquette of amateur food photographers.

He said food pictures "take away the surprise" of some of his dishes and "take a bit of my intellectual property". Not to mention that "a photo taken with a not-so-good smartphone is rarely good."

One blogger at his restaurant posted picture complaining about the doneness of her pigeon, but had not cut the bird open. "You couldn't even see how the pigeon was cooked," said the still-fuming chef.

Goujon admitted banning photos would be "complicated. "I'm trying to find the right way to say it on the menu but haven't found the proper formula so it doesn't make people angry," Goujon said.

But French food blogger Stephane Riss said critics of food photographs are overreacting.

"For chefs, the more they are talked about, the better," he said. "Photos boost visibility and revenues ... it's free publicity."

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