Internet kicks back at Heston Blumenthal for telling customers not to photograph his food

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th January 2020

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal has brought a storm of discontent upon himself for words spoken in an interview with the Radio Times, in which he said customers should eat their food rather than take pictures of it. 

He said: “At the Fat Duck, we’ve debated this for several years now. If we say to people, ‘Your food’s going cold’, you put up a barrier between you and the diner,”

He told the publication he'd been "very tempted" to stop people from taking pictures of their food, and had even resorted to doing so. 

"We did it once in Australia because somebody was taking pictures with a flash, which affected other tables. It’s a really tricky thing.

“Social media is such a big part of our lives, our sight has become almost the more important sense rather than smell or taste. If I see something beautiful like a sunset, I try to be in the moment, then take a picture afterwards.”

Naturally, given Heston's status, social media took off to rebuke his comments - with responses picking up on the fact that the chef's food is meant to be visually arresting, and, remarking that his food may not call to be photographed, as it has remained the same for several years. 

 

In an article for The Telegraph, Xanthe Clay pointed out that at £300 a meal, customers should be left to take pictures as they so please. 

"And at Blumenthal’s restaurants, where the bill for a meal with drinks goes north of £300, customers may well feel they have paid for the right to take photographs along with a selfie with the chef to boast about with their friends afterwards.

"After all," she added, "the modern logic goes, if there’s no picture, did it actually happen? A photograph of a sunset might be a shoddy imitation of the real thing, but for most people it’s still better than no picture at all."

The journalist raised the point that it is a conundrum for chefs - choosing whether they'd rather have their food marketed on social media at the cost of it being eaten cold, or risk falling into obsolescence. 

"On the one hand, any chef worth her or his flaky Maldon salt wants their food to taste at its best – which will generally mean the moment after the waiter has set it before the guest.

"On the other hand," she added, "much as the chefs may hate amateurs photographing their dinner (especially if the results aren’t what the chefs regard as an accurate or fair representation of the dish, or just a little too unfiltered, unprimped and generally real), restaurants need the publicity."

Comments about sunsets aside, it's been a rough few months for Heston, whose opinion about women in kitchens and his former employee's £200,000 lawsuit against The Fat Duck Group (not to mention its unstable financial situation, which resulted in The Dinner in Melbourne's liquidation last month) have put his name on the Internet's naughty list more times than he likely would want to admit. 

Ashley Palmer-Watts' decision to leave Dinner by Heston must have been a painful one, too - begging the question of whether Heston Blumenthal's hayday is well and truly over

What do you think chefs? Was Heston right to say customers should enjoy their food, not take pictures of it?

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th January 2020

Internet kicks back at Heston Blumenthal for telling customers not to photograph his food