Chef calls out 'bedroom expert' bloggers in open letter

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th August 2019

An Edinburgh chef has expressed his vitriol for food bloggers in an open letter, calling out amateur food enthusiasts for a lack of knowledge and understanding of the hospitality industry. 

In the letter published by Edinburgh Evening News, Campbell Mickel, the chef owner of Mediterranean small plates restaurant, Merienda, said that many bloggers lack the experience of professional critics and thus shouldn't have authority on what classes as a good restaurant experience. 

He said that critics possess "an unusual amount of power," and that "with one click of a button, they can close down family restaurants and destroy the reputation of a chef." 

In the past, he said, " food critics were professionals, who were qualified with a degree in food science and were trained in writing," but that nowadays, "anyone can be a food critic without having any knowledge or expertise on food or communication." 

"The amateur blogger will be nice to your face and thank you for their complimentary meal but as soon as they return to their laptop, the Keyboard Warrior within them appears. They will tear their meal to shreds in a matter of seconds, hiding behind their pen names and laptop screens." 

The chef spoke of a recent experience, when a blogger was offered a complimentary meal - and gave positive feedback in person, only to leave a negative review later, complaining that the price of the wine she ordered was excessive. 

This, he said, testified to "her warped understanding or none at all of how VAT, rent, rates, breakages, hygiene, insurance, glassware, electricity etc affects the basic GP percentage a restaurant charges,"  highlighting "how little some bloggers understand the fundamentals of the hospitality industry." 

And while he said that some bloggers demonstrate a high level of skill, this does not give them the right "to damage the reputation a chef has built-in exchange for a complimentary meal." 

Campbell said that as professionals, chefs have a  level of authority on what makes food good or bad, and that anyone who has worked in the industry knows this. 

He said: "I have worked in the business for almost 35 years and I think I speak with all chefs when I say that we take our job very seriously."

Meanwhile, respondents to the open letter questioned the chef's decision to offer free meals in exchange for reviews as it depletes the value of any feedback, and stated that guests - no matter their level of professionalism -  are entitled to express their opinion. 

What do you think chefs? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th August 2019

Chef calls out 'bedroom expert' bloggers in open letter