It’s become as much a part of your restaurant routine as choosing tap or bottled: the ceremonial Instagramming of your meal. But faster than you can heart your friends’ food shots, restaurants—citing disruptiveness, among other things—are saying, “Drop the phone and step away from the table!” Still, even as some chefs are imposing photo bans, plenty of others are encouraging foodstagramming. Hear two New York chefs argue it out below.
Alex Stupak, chef at Empellón, says go for it:
- Immediate publicity is a boon to our business. As chefs, we now have the power to transmit ideas without needing to wait for traditional media. I can create a new dish that night and have guests transmit the idea to thousands of their Instagram followers.
- Essentially, the customer is always right. You can certainly ask people to stop doing what they want to do, but I think that letting them have their fun is more hospitable.
- These days if it's not on Instagram, it's almost as if it never happened. By communicating with these images, you can share your experience with friends, whether they're with you at the table or far away.
Luke Venner, executive chef at BLT Fish, says it's a no-go:
- These shots aren't true representations of the dish. As a chef, you want to be able to dictate how the food looks when it's photographed. Similar to when a celebrity is captured leaving the gym by the paparazzi, a dish isn't going to look its best when it's shot in a dim corner of the room with an iPhone.
- It's disruptive. I completely understand that guests want to document a memorable dining experience, but the flash is distracting to other patrons.
- Sometimes you just need to live in the moment. Taste your food (while it's still hot!) and take everything in. Forget the cameras. Be there and enjoy your experience with your friends.
Where do you stand? Tell us below in the comments!
Written by David Farley; Photography by Sam Kaplan