Don't Instagram your entree. Stop Facebooking your fish
The urge to pick up our phones before our forks has led to restaurants clamping down on snap-happy diners
What would Jean Brillat-Savarin have made of it all? The 19th-century father of food writing once said: “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are.” Brillat-Savarin would have only to glance through Twitter and Facebook to see millions of people telling us who they are by posting pictures of what they eat.
Before we smell it, poke it with a fork or taste it, lots of us record what we are about to eat in a photograph. The urge to pick up our phones before our forks has tipped some chefs over the edge. Maire Flynn, who runs the Tannery Restaurant, in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, with her chef husband, Paul Flynn, remembers how odd she found it when people started taking pictures of plates in restaurants. But she’s used to it now.
“It depends on the age profile,” she says. (It’s mostly younger diners who Facebook their fish.) “Usually it’s a good thing and we haven’t had a bad experience. Sometimes the food doesn’t photograph that well and Paul will look at it and say, ‘I’m taking that off the menu.’ ”
In New York, the chef David Bouley has said he now invites people into the kitchen to photograph the dish, because when they do it in the dining room it ruins the ambience.
Citing other restaurants where the practice is banned outright, the New York Times recently quoted an anonymous (because she was too mortified to be named) restaurant-goer who was publicly bawled out in David Chang’s 12-seater Momofuku Ko restaurant for trying to snap a dish discreetly with her phone.
The Tannery won’t be clamping down on food photographs any time soon. “We definitely won’t be banning the three people a week who do it,” says Flynn.
In Dublin, the owners of Bite, on South Frederick Street, issued a list of rules at the start of the year including a “No Instagramming. Just eat” rule.
The list got one response from Patrick Kavanagh, a TV3 assistant producer, who tweeted: “No Instagramming? But I can’t eat food that hasn’t been put through a filter first.”
Tongue in cheek
One of the owners of Bite, Anthony Remedy, says the rules were tongue in cheek. “But I kind of think it’s a little bit ‘over’ taking pictures of everything you eat.”
If the dinner snap has had its day, the owners of Bite wanted to be the people who saw it coming first. “We want to be leaders, not followers, and it’s a little bit of fun.”