Food Blog Beefs: The Amateur Gourmet Takes On Grant Achatz; Bayless Offends Gizmodo Over Twitter

Just a few of the courses from Alinea.
Just a few of the courses from Alinea. Photo: moonrat/Flickr

Why are food bloggers so cranky today? We’ve come across two stories of bloggers over-analyzing quotes from chefs, twisting their words, and then writing exhaustively on the subject. Twitter, once again, causes confusion for Rick Bayless, and a two month old blog post by Grant Achatz was picked apart by Adam Roberts of the Amateur Gourmet, which led a near religious manifesto on the pleasures of taking pictures of your food.

Robert’s post begins as an even tempered answer to the question of why he takes pictures of food. Like most of his posts it’s funny and playful, even if he eventually does compare the practice of taking pictures of a meal to saying a prayer:

To really look and to really consider what you’re eating before you eat it has value. It’s the equivalent, perhaps, of saying grace. Yet, instead of thanking God for your food, you’re simply acknowledging your food as something worthy of reflection. A secular version of a pre-meal prayer.

Of course, Achatz never said he didn’t want people photographing his food. What he had an issue with was the excessive picture taking where the meal is sacrificed in the name of a picture: “Courses get cold, or melt while the images are taken, and in extreme cases the intended effect of the dish is completely lost.” In fact, Achatz’s first whole paragraph explains how food bloggers have ultimately helped his restaurants.

Essentially the two agree on the same thing. Roberts explains that, “If, over the course of the meal, we felt like we were ruining our own experience by fixating on pictures, we would’ve stopped.”

Let’s recap: Photographing a meal is fine as long as you are quick, don’t use a flash, and enjoy the food. Let’s move on.

This beef between Gizmodo and Rick Bayless is more contentious, and it all revolves around Twitter. Mark Wilson of Gizmodo actually canceled a reservation for Topolobampo because of a tweet by Rick Bayless, which linked to a New York Times study that said that food allergies weren’t as prevalent as believed.

Turns out Wilson’s wife can’t eat gluten, and the course of the post Wilson claims that Bayless is annoyed by people with food allergies no matter how severe. This pisses him off.

I was sickened by the arrogance, the smug response of someone shrugging off the fact that he was feeding people worldly ingredients that their ancestors may have never even imagined in their secluded region of the globe, let alone stomached for generations in anticipation of a single rich meal.

What’s odd about the article –besides, of course, the fact that he was getting so upset over a retweet and that Mexican restaurants are actually great places to visit if you have a gluten issue because of their use of corn– is that he doesn’t blame Bayless as much as the unfiltered voice that Twitter has given chefs.

But that’s the thing about celebrities—even celebrity chefs. We’re meant to ingest their output in very controlled batches. Their images are edited and airbrushed while their words are filtered through PR agencies, diluting their personality to something with all the factory-farmed mundanity of a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

Still, there’s a reason people eat cheeseburgers. Twitter offered Bayless the chance to be Bayless rather than some grinning industrial construct on a salsa jar. I can respect such honest rapport, actually, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll like it.

Geez, we assume he has already unfollowed Michael Ruhlman by now.

On Taking Pictures of Your Food [The Amateur Gourmet]
I Liked Celebrities More Before Twitter [Gizmodo]

Food Blog Beefs: The Amateur Gourmet Takes On Grant Achatz; Bayless Offends