I interrupt my usual food posts with this very important open letter. This letter is addressed to the certain rather prominent blogger in question, hereinafter referred to as, “X”
It has come to my attention that you had visited a certain restaurant today for their Sunday Champagne Brunch in the Joo Chiat vicinity today with 3 dining companions. The brunch would have cost S$68++ per person with free flow champagne and red/white wine. You had informed the restaurant that you were a food blogger and assumed that by telling them so, the bill for all 4 of you would be waived.
This was not to be the case, as highlighted to you by the management. Further, I understand that upon being informed by the staff that out of goodwill, the restaurant would waive the costs of the meal for your partner and yourself. However, the costs of the two other diners had still to be borne by your dining companions. Upon hearing so, I put it to you that you threw your credit card at the cashier, while you glared at the staff who handled your bill.
The management of the restaurant in question was, in my opinion, more than kind enough to sign off the bill of both yourself and your 1 dining partner as goodwill.
Let it be known that most of us food bloggers (yours truly included) simply cannot condone your acts today.
Dated 22nd August 2010
My reason for publishing this open letter
The reason is clear – I am a food blogger. As the cliché goes, One Bad Apple spoils the Bunch, I am not going to lay low whilst someone tarnishes the good name of food bloggers in general. We have spent months, some even years, building up integrity of the community as a whole and I am saddened by the fact that you may have just tarnished the good name of the community.
Integrity of a Food Blogger
It is my personal belief that running a food blog is to have an avenue to express one’s pleasant and unpleasant opinions of my meals. What happened today has served to only remind myself of what my initial intentions were of running a food blog and that is to return the favour that I had received from the numerous food blogs that existed before mine that I had visited when looking for a completely unbiased and honest reviews of a restaurant.
So what if you were a Food Blogger
A food blogger, by definition, is someone who writes about food in his or her blog. And what makes one a food blogger? A camera and a blog. To that end, a camera may even be optional. That essentially means that any Tom, Dick and Harry has the ability to start his or her own food blog. So what privilege does that give you, as a food blogger, the very bare excuse that you can solicit for free meals? A prominent food reviewer who reviews restaurants for a prominent English Daily, hereinafter referred to as Mr. W pays for his meals and openly states so in his reviews. If Mr. W does not solicit for free meals, why should you?
P.S. Don’t take this the wrong way – I am not stating that if someone of Mr. X’s status solicits for free meals, you can too.
On a side note, in the last 2 weeks alone, I have heard of another food blogger, who had blatantly requested for a food tasting session at a rather hip restaurant group, on the pretence that he was a writer for an online portal. From what I can understand, legal action could and may be taken against him.
On the issue of Invited Reviews
In recent months, there has been an influx of invited sessions by restaurants and PR agencies alike. I am of the opinion that if a restaurant / PR agency invites me for a meal, it’s an honour, a privilege even.
I’ve had the pleasure of working in the PR industry and majoring in Marketing for my course and I completely understand the rise of online and social media as a marketing tool for a business and coming from a family running a business, I can understand how every single bit of marketing is useful. The mantra of any publicity regardless of its tone is good publicity. Thus, I completely understand the need for restaurants to engage food bloggers as a affordable but effective form of online medium. This is the only reason why I still attend these food tasting sessions and events.
That said and my conscience is nothing but crystal clear – I do not go up to a restaurant and say, “I am a food blogger and I insist on getting a meal on your dime.”
But, going around soliciting for a free meal is a definite no no for me.
Thank you for your time in reading this post and I invite you to share any comments that you may have.