Chef Michel Roux Bans food photos and Bangkok Chefs have something to say about it.

By Jessie Morgan

          A sign posted in front of a three-Michelin-starred restaurant, The Waterside Inn created quite a stir on the internet recently.

          Chef Michel Roux, distressed by today’s diners taking (too much) time Instagramming their food pictures before finally eating their meals felt he had to do something about it, but nobody expected a partial ban. *collective gasps of Instafoodies all over the globe*

          Chef Michel Roux  reportedly said in an interview with the Telegraph that he’s very upset about people taking pictures, so he put up a sign at the door saying “No photos, please.” He said that it was ok to take one or two pictures during the meal, but pictures on the phone cannot possibly capture the flavours which is one of the most important aspects of his food.

          A stark contrast to what’s happening in the Bangkok food scene where Chef’s themselves are participating in the Instagram-mad moments, like Gaggan’s latest menu which is made up entirely of Emojis which we reviewed here.

          There are even menus that encourage photo taking like the menu at L’Appart at Sofitel Sukhumvit Bangkok that incorporates a camera icon indicating which dishes are aesthetically superior than others.

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          Local Bangkok gourmand and globetrotter, Rex R Baay who eats in Michelin establishments like it’s going out of style said: “Michel Roux is considered as one of the legends in the culinary world, just like Chef Jiro Ono, they also have a photo ban and they allow you to have a photo with the chef or kitchen tour after dinner.”

 

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          This to majority of the public may seem like a reasonable request but for click-happy foodies the ban is deemed outrageously unjust. Although, Instafoodies would be happy to know, there are plenty of Chefs that welcome their incessant needs to filter and share as Rex explained further.

          “We have to respect his (Chef Jiro Ono) decision because he is not like René Redzepi or David Chang who loves everyone posting in social media. Every Chef is different. If photography  cannot be avoided, at least they can allow phones and diners can only take photos of their food and not the whole restaurant. This is a common practice in Japan.”

          Famous chefs however, would vehemently disagree. Gordon Ramsay, known for his boorish antics, made headlines with his tweet regarding the issue. He said, and quote, “How bloody pompous! It’s a compliment to the chef the fact that customers want to take pictures of the dishes they’ve paid for it’s 2017.”

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          And in another tweet, “If I see a great looking picture posted, I’ll  want to go and eat there immediately, he’s just an old fart who’s forgotten to move on !”

          Other Chefs in Bangkok are on par with Gordon’s views.  “When that plate of food is placed in front of customer. It becomes the customer’s property. We sell and create feelings of being special through being hospitable that’s what hospitality is. Dictating to the customer has only led to fine dining’s rapid decline. And it only hangs by a thread,” said Chef Bee of Paste Bangkok.

 

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          Surprisingly notorious Chef Jess Barnes, known for his killer instinct cooking skills but also his acid tongue, told Bangkok Foodies – “Times have changed and business can be heavily affected by images portrayed on social media, for good or bad. I can’t speak for everyone else but I find consumers taking imagery has been generally beneficial to my business in the past. No such thing as bad publicity as they say. “

 

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          Bangkok resident Chef Mick Mulryan are one of the few we found who truly shared Michael’s sentiments – “I don’t think they should do either. The people who spend their time photographing their meal are missing the whole point of the social gathering. When I was working, I would go out to talk with customers, and commonly, there would be tables of 6 or 8 and the majority of them were doing that. Sending photos and messaging and ignoring the rest of the table. It seemed very bizarre to me.

          Ultimately, we believe most foodies would feel entitled to take photos of dishes that they have in essence, paid the privilege for but some argue that real “foodies” should not have a need to boast publicly. It is fundamentally about taste and this can not be determined by a pretty picture.