Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lawyer Attacks Food Blogger, News at 11

via eGullet...

DC Chef Carol Greenwood, known for her fine cooking and inflexibility, has sic'd her lawyers on blogger DC Foodie, for taking and publishing pictures of his dinner. "You are hereby notified that should you show any of the said pictures on your website, an action will be brought against you immediately for specific damages, together with the court costs and attorneys fees in the said action."

DC Foodie's blog entry here.

eGullet discussion here.

This post was written by McAuliflower from Brownie Points Blog


Cate said...

OK, he pulled the post so can't read it, but geesh, a chef getting upset because someone takes a picture of their food? Ridiculous. They paid for it, right? And from the post he has up there now, it seems like he was giving them a positive review... goodness.

Cate said...

You can read his wife's account here.

Sam said...

I don't think it is rediculous.
I have some sympathy for the chef.
Maybe she was having a very bad 5 minutes (we have all been there)
I think a chef has the right to request that photograhs are not taken of their food, but of course they need to explain this nicely, and state it clearly before the meal begins.
The bloggers shouldn't have revealed themselves as an explanation for having taken the photographs either, if they hadn't done that, the letter would never have been sent in the first place.

David said...

When you enter private property, the owner has the right to request that guests behave in a certain way. Some people don't want cameras going off in their dining room. Some people don't want images of what they do to be published, since they may not show the 'product' in the best light. That's up to them if you're in their restaurant or bakery.

Last year I visited a fine chocolate maker in Italy and asked if I could take a picture (I believe in asking first...call me old-fashioned, it's called 'being polite') He was very, very nice (he spent 4 hours with me) but said "No", although he was happy to supply me with photos if I wanted to use them for publication. I think he wanted to make sure that his chocolate company looked good, which it did. But if I took a lousy picture and published it, that's not good pr. It just makes the chocolate look crappy.

When I worked in the restaurant, people would walk in the kitchen, snap my picture, then leave. It was so rude and invasive. I don't mind being photographed, but at least ask first, for heaven't sake.

Many places don't allow photos: Whole Foods, Laduree, Central Market, Le Grand Epicerie de Paris, etc...It's private property and if they don't want people taking pictures there, that's their right.

Cate said...

I should clarify what I meant by "ridiculous." I meant her reaction. Absolutely, Sam, people have bad days, nights, whatever, but when you're in the public and really relying on them for your income, bad days are something you have to be careful with - you can't take it to work. That said, from DC Foodie's wife's post about the experience, it sounded more like just a few bad minutes on Carol's part, and then adding salt to the wound, sent her lawyer after them the next day. Private property, they can ABSOLUTELY make their rules, and request/require that their diners follow them. Their place, their rules. What I objected to was how she handled it.

From a food blogger perspective, I feel funny taking pictures in restaurants and anyone who has read my blog knows that I almost never do it. If I do, I wouldn't announce it, and would be discreet about it. And I wouldn't leave behind a calling card either. Being a reviewer by trade and leaving notice that there will be a review coming up is one thing, I think this is different.

Just wanted to clarify what I meant by "ridiculous." :) She has wishes she wanted respected, he should comply, but all she had to do was ask nicely, and although we only have one side, it seems that wasn't the case.

Tana Butler said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bea at Tartine Gourmande said...

I agree with the concept of private property for sure, and yes I agree, "asking first if it is ok" makes a big difference. I have had experiences when people got "scared" by the pictures I was taking, outside, in the street, and I had to explain, and sometimes apologize, although my intention was always good. As to taking this to legal terms, I always find it a bit much. But this is me.

Tana Butler said...


The Washington DC foodie forum called DonRockwell.com (DR was the forum host-with-the-most before eG implemented rules that impeded the DC group from socializing freely, which they are wont to do) has a good discussion from the inside out: many people know the chef to be, well, intractable, though no one will come right out and say so.

DCFoodie's first post about it starts the ball rolling here.

The issue at hand is not whether or not she has the right to request no photographs. She can do as she pleases. The policy needs to be publicly displayed: on the walls or on the menus. She is not within her rights to sic her lawyer on him, not at all, since he owns his photographs. Moreover, the manager told him explicitly that DCFoodie didn't have to heed the chef's temper tantrum.

She bought herself a million dollars worth of bad publicity. ESPECIALLY because he had been prepared to write a good review.

I have sympathy for her only to the extent that I feel sorry for any chef who has to see bad photographs of their art online...bad photos dishonor the painstaking art of the chefs you are professing to praise, in my opinion.

Yes, she might have been having a very grumpy five minutes (and I've been there, too, Sam is right), but calling the lawyer was overkill, and it's going to cost her a lot of business unless she does the gracious thing and apologizes. Which, from what I've read about her, seems unlikely.

The wife's account is pretty darned funny.

Tom McCollum said...

Although my intention was always good. As to taking this to legal terms, I always find it a bit much.
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Josh Green Rock said...

That's not good pr. It just makes the chocolate look crappy.
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Jack Smith said...

If I took a lousy picture and published it, that's not good pr. It just makes the chocolate look crappy.
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