French chefs decry ‘food porn’ photos, want eateries to be camera-free

AFP-JIJI

The next time you try to take a picture of your dinner in a posh French restaurant, don’t be surprised if an angry chef comes storming out of the kitchen.

Fed up with patrons snapping photographs with their smartphones to post on social networks, several Michelin-starred French establishments are trying to crack down on “food porn.”

French chefs are hardly alone. There has been a growing backlash in the United States to intrusive photo-taking, with some top-tier restaurants banning photography. Food bloggers, and even some chefs, defend the pictures as free publicity, but for many the sharing has just gone too far.

“There’s a time and a place for everything,” said Alexandre Gauthier, chef at La Grenouillere in the northern town of La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil. “We are trying to give our clients a break in their lives. For that, you need to turn off your mobile.”

Short of formally banning photos, Gauthier has put an image of a camera with a strike-through on his menu. “People just won’t disconnect anymore,” he said.

“It is gratifying, but we’re a restaurant without very much light, so they have to use a flash. And with each dish, it’s ‘stop everything,’ or the photo has to be retaken three times. It’s tweeted, liked, comments are made and replied to — by then the dish is cold.”

Gilles Goujon, chef at the three-star L’Auberge du Vieux Puits in the southern town of Fontjoncouse, said he is increasingly frustrated with the poor etiquette of amateur food photogs.

“A photo taken with a not-so-good smartphone is rarely good,” he said. It doesn’t give the best image of our work. It’s annoying.”