Chang Bans Food Photography at Ko; Chefs, Bloggers Prove Resistant

One of our own stolen images from Ko. Photo: Don Lee

David Chang's no-photography policy at Ko was bound to cause a stir — after all, along with its draconian reservations policy, the stolen furtive glimpses of dishes you might never taste helped make the restaurant the city's ultimate food-porn fantasy. Chang is probably right in thinking that cameras disrupt the meal, but he is alone in creating a ban, according to an informal survey by Serious Eats. "It's just food. Eat it," Chang said to explain his rule. But Messrs. Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, and Drew Nieporent all feel that there's little they can do about it. At Daniel, they'll try to hide you away where you won't cause too much commotion; Nieporent just wants you to “be considerate of the other people in the restaurant,” and Batali has the most liberal attitude of all, refusing to “stop joyous foodies clicking an occasional photo of the food on the table with a small camera.” For someone that, at least until recently, hated food bloggers, this is an especially enlightened position to take.

After all, as Chang well knows, the viral power of bloggers to promote a restaurant's food is good for business. Serious Eats also asked several staffers about shooting their food, and several recognized the act as anti-social and intrusive. "I feel like it's to the point that it should be like smoking and non-smoking — photos and non-photos," said Serious Eats designer Raphael Brion. Slice NY's Adam Kuban yearned for the early days of food blogs, when taking pictures of your food was so unusual that "people just thought I was a weird tourist." But few bloggers are willing to leave their cameras at home. The best they can do is turn the flash off and apologize in advance.

On Banning Photography from Restaurants [Serious Eats]
Related: A Tantalizing First Look at Momofuku Ko
Momofuku Ko: a Dish-by-Dish Breakdown