An Edinburgh chef with nearly 35 years experience in the industry has taken aim at amateur food bloggers in an open letter.
Campbell Mickel from Merienda, Stockbridge has addressed the letter to bloggers as a way of explaining to them how seemingly flippant posts on their websites can damage the reputation of a chef very easily, as well as expressing to other readers how unwarranted criticism on social media can be detrimental to a restaurant's success.
Here is the open letter in full:
"Food blogging has become one of the largest niches within the blogosphere. With the growth of technology and internet, anyone can be a food critic without having any knowledge or expertise on food or communication. In the past, food critics were professionals, who were qualified with a degree in food science and were trained in writing.
"Nowadays, many people have become food bloggers and food photographers, expressing their love of food and their views of food – which many consider as a hobby.
"But a hobby is defined as “an activity carried out by amateurs, not professionals”.
"The amateur food blogger has an unusual amount of power. With one click of a button, they can close down family restaurants and destroy the reputation of a chef."
"The amateur blogger will be nice to your face and thank you for their complimentary meal but as soon as they return to their laptop, the Keyboard Warrior within them appears. They will tear their meal to shreds in a matter of seconds, hiding behind their pen names and laptop screens. It’s difficult to get a bad review but the difference between getting a bad review from a food critic and a food blogger – at least the critic knows what they are talking about.
"I recently offered one such bedroom expert the opportunity to sample our food. She and her partner proclaimed it’s excellence however went on to write her displeasure at what I charge for the wine she chose.
"Her foolish blabbering only highlighting how little she understands the industry she feels knowledgeable enough to critique. Where this girl
could have chosen a far cheaper bottle of wine to accompany her free meal she chose a mid-range bottle. Her understanding is that in a supermarket you can buy an Albarino for a tenner, how can I justify selling this (far superior) wine at £44.00!
"Her warped understanding or none at all of how VAT, rent, rates, breakages, hygiene, insurance, glassware, electricity etc affects the basic GP percentage a restaurant charges to just stand still only highlights how little some bloggers understand the fundamentals of the hospitality industry.
"There is one similarity between chefs and food bloggers – both are passionate about food. Well, some are passionate about food. The rest just fancy a free meal one evening and will copy and paste information they find elsewhere, to construct their blog post.
"Whilst food bloggers help promote our business and there are some diamonds in the rough who are talented individuals who have fantastic writing, photography and cooking skills. But is it ok for them to damage the reputation a chef has built-in exchange for a complimentary meal?
"No. Food bloggers may have some knowledge on food, they may have eaten in over one hundred restaurants, but can that compare to a chef who has
trained twenty plus years training? No. The so-called food blogger expresses that 'this dish doesn’t fit with the menu and it’s out of place' and there is 'too much' of one ingredient. But can you truly question a professional when you have no expertise in the area? No.
"Anyone who has worked within the food industry understands that chefs are passionate about their food and respect that they know their food. I have worked in the business for almost 35 years and I think I speak with all chefs when I say that we take our job very seriously.
"Chefs undergo an abundance of training to ensure we are giving our customers the best meal. We understand that if you come into our restaurant for your Wedding anniversary meal and the food was not to your standard, it would ruin your night and the memory of that evening. That’s why we care so much."