Paul Kahan will wallop you with his cutting board.
Like we’ve said a million times before, the less-than-stellar relationship between restaurant chefs and the interneteers who chronicle their products can largely be traced to a matter of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. In today’s New York Times, they dissect a particular corner of the phenomenon in an article focused on the rise of Yelp, where fourteen million restaurant reviews can’t all be wrong. And Paul Kahan seems to understand that if you aggregate enough opinions, what rises to the top is generally reflective of reality:
Some restaurateurs still dismiss Yelpers as a fork-waving mob of know-nothings. Paul Kahan, the chef and an owner of Blackbird, Avec and The Publican in Chicago, became known there for complaining that sites like Yelp were “a forum for people who don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about.”
But, he conceded in an interview, the sheer volume of amateur opinion is useful. Any reader who struggled through 20 to 30 Yelp reviews of one of his restaurants, he said, “would get a fair impression of it.”
It seems like Kahan’s becoming the resident expert on the chef/online-reviewer dynamic — he’s weighing in on this everywhere. A few weeks ago in the Tribune, he demonstrated an uncanny understanding of the nature of foodblogging, defending the rampant obsessive coverage in the face of criticism of Yelp and bloggers from chefs Bill Kim and Graham Elliot Bowles:
Well, they do it for sports. I mean think about talk radio. This online stuff is like culinary talk radio.
But less annoying and more delicious!
[Photo of Paul Kahan by: Michael Stryder]