Itching Up To Get In Your Kitch-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!
March 25, 2014
That Was The Food Week That Was!
Hardongate, Blaggergate and Rouxgate
March 14, 2014
Well what a week that was, eh?
Twitter went into meltdown with claims, counter-claims and copious finger pointing at food blogs on the scrounge; chefs around the country waited with bated breath for their Harden sticker, praying for something better than very average; whilst Marsala Rama was let into the chosen foodie few's party with a cheeky betting coup.
That Was The Food Week That Was…
In most industries you care to think of these days that in some way involve selling a product or service to the public, the success of a company is a slave to subjectivity.
As the world gets more connected, smaller and savvy, anyone can offer up their opinon and, in some cases, make or break someone. It's easy for christ sakes - even we can do it.
This week was no exception as respected restaurant reviews book Hardens sent out their door stickers to eating establishments all over the country. We've all seen them as you enter a place for the first time, perusing as quickly as you can the five year old Zagat sticker to see if this place really is going to be any good.
One restaurant though took, quite rightly, particular umbrage to their sticker - after it announced to the passing public that the Sticky Walnut in Chester is 'very average'.
The issue wasn't the use of the phrase 'very average'. At least not to start with. The write-up had been in The Times and no doubt in the book itself - it was the fact Hardens thought it something to shout about by the restaurant itself.
What ensused though was pure comedy gold as the Sticky Walnut lambasted Hardens (Hardons) for the mistake, only for what seemed like a 9-year-old in charge of the PR to put foot, after foot, after foot in it.
An apology finally came, but not before foodie gods such as Fay Maschler and Jay Rayner got in on the act. Marsala Rama did too - but no one talks to us.
Which leads us quite nicely to blaggate - teablagging - call it what you want. Basically the act of asking for a freebie, in exchange for some nice words on a website.
Again, this is standard practise for many industries up and down the land - but the restaurant industry relies more than most on what the great unwashed think and post on any number of social media and review sites. It therefore sticks in the craw when certain establishments feel that they have to pander to pseudo analysts time and time again.
One restaurant in particular got a bit sick of this, quite frankly my dear, and made a stand on Twitter - hear hear we say - after one particular food blog emailed his request for free scran, in exchange for gushing prose. Said email was posted as a pic, retweets followed.
And that is when it all kicked off. Oh lordy did it kick off.
Some think it OK to ask for freebies. Some say that reviewers should pay for their meals. Some have admitted to both.
Our view? We can probably afford to eat out at somewhere decent, once a month. Even if we were offered freebies, we would be far too embarassed to accept them. But we never get offered anything, so not a problem.
Newspaper critics claim to pay for their own meals - I have a doubt on that one, but only so far as they probably have an expense account, or an inflated salary in order to pay. So whilst they don't get freebies directly from the gaff in question (they do get better tables, service), the situation means it is not really their dosh. Would their view be different again if it were?
As for those that brazenly ask for a hot meal in return for a positive review - well that's not on. If you can ask the same question and, with hand on heart, tell the truth, then fair play to you - not sure we could slag somewhere off if that somewhere picked up the tab for us.
Whatever your tack, honesty has to be the be all and end all.
This week saw the news that one of our fave TV chefs, Michel Roux Jr had to step down from the BBC, due to commercial commitments that clashed with the BBC's not too clear commercial policy.
So no more Food & Drink; no more Service - and no more Masterchef The Professionals.
We love these foodie programmes, so after the initial shock we racked our brains - will Monica step up to the plate (if you pardon the pun)? Will someone else be brought in? Will they have their own Monica?
We came up with about ten or so worthy replacements - Angela Hartnett and Phil Howard being favs in our book.
Twitter loved it - Tom Kerridge, Sat Bains and Claude Bosi all weighed in; Jay Rayner was intrigued. Gregg Wallace found it; Gizzi Erskine was beautifully perplexed. Phil Howard retweeted and said no more (you dark horse, Phil) and every now and then, little old Marsala Rama got some credit too.
What a week - I'm off for a lie down and a hobnob biscuit.