Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bay Area Bites is a blog that is hosted by San Francisco's NPR station, KQED. There is a very interesting conversation going on over there right now involving a review of a new local restaurant by Shuna of Eggbeater. If you haven't read it, the review (and subsequent comments) bring up interesting questions about blog reviews of restaurants, the responsibilities of reviewers, and the responsibilities of food blogs. An interesting discussion, which is complicated further by the fact that this review was by an independent writer on a site hosted by a major media source in the Bay Area.

Just a head's up.

This post was written by Jen from Life Begins @ 30.


Tana said...

I don't exactly care to join the fray over there, but I did post a link to the review at my food forum, where I am working on compiling a list of California restaurants whose chefs buy directly from farms. Range, the restaurant she gave the stinky review to, is on the list.

People there generally agreed that she had no business writing that review, and should have disqualified herself for a couple of reasons.

Admittedly, she gets a point for being up front (she applied for a job at the restaurant she dissed), but that she was not hired doesn't look good. One comment used the phrase "sour grapes," and that is how it looks to me, too.

I had problems with the whole business, I'm sorry to say.

shuna fish lydon said...

I'm really glad that this whole thing has brought up some questions that we in the food blogging community need to ask.

Just so everyone knows I was ASKED to write that review by the person who runs BAB. I told her in a conversation about my experience and she asked me to write about it for BAB. I was hesitant, yes. As WG expleined to me, BAB is about, "the immediate first impression." She wants those reading the blog to know that the writers were, "the first ones to get the sense of it."

In the blogosphere everyone gets to write about whatever they want. I read a lot of them and see a lot of dis-information being passed along without research, fact checking or editing. Blogs, on one of their levels, are diaries.

If I were to review food selling businesses where I knew no one, had not worked for them, or had not applied for a job there I would be very limited in the Bay Area. Is my voice not valid because I am friendly and have been cooking here on an off for 13 years? Are the people who have popular food blogs "Food professionals" just because they love food?

I write about what I know. I wasn't the only disappointed with my meal that night. It's better that Range hears initial critique from lowly old me first, than from a major source like The SF Chronicle.

Shauna said...

Wow, that really does just feel like a tempest in a teapot, doesn't it?

As writers, we're just trying to tell our story and hope that someone cares enough to listen. So, in that sense, controversy and even outrage are good. At least it starts the conversation.

I think we have the right to say whatever the heck we want about a restaurant. In the end, it's only one review. But it shows the power of the word, doesn't it? If we say something in print (even online), it feels permanent.

For the record, I think Shuna did a good job. To me, all the explanations of the possible job and how they treated her were simply her trying to make the process transparent. And we could use more of that.

McAuliflower said...

I too thought the restaurant write-up was well done.

fish posted some follow up comments that further clarified background info since much was being erroniously read into the review.

I also enjoyed the writing and didn't think it took over the review at all. (There was one flavor: smoke. It took over like an 80's disco.... I've got to use this line!)

The point of reviews is to get personal in our judgements. It's funny that only one other comment has given another review of the same restaurant so far.

wendygee said...

I am KQED's producer of Bay Area Bites and in response to the flood of comments and controversy I wrote a post titled Blogger Ethics. Please check it out and continue the conversation.