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France

French chefs tell customers ‘no more food porn’

© Photo: AFP (French chef Gilles Goujon in the kitchen of his restaurant "L'auberge du Vieux Puits")

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-14

Thanks to the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook the internet is now awash with carefully taken photos of extravagant plates of food – or ‘food porn’.

But the phenomenon has not gone down well with many of France’s finest chefs, some of whom are now asking customers not to take photos of dishes at their restaurants – something they claim infringes on their "intellectual property".

Gilles Goujon, whose "L’Auberge du Vieux Puits" restaurant in southern France holds three Michelin stars, says photos posted on social networks can ruin the experience for other diners.

“If people take a photo and put it out on social media, it takes away the surprise,” he told AFP, citing the example of his dish “oeuf de poule pourri de truffles” (chicken egg laden with truffles).

“It takes away a little bit of my intellectual property too. Someone could copy me,” he continued.

The quality of some of the photos taken is another problem for Goujon.

A photo “taken with a smartphone … is rarely good,” he says. “It doesn’t give the best impression of our work. It’s annoying.”

While admitting “it’s complicated” to ban photos from his restaurant, Goujon says he intends to put a message about the issue on his menus as soon as he can find a way of phrasing it so that will not be “too shocking” for diners.

‘The food is cold’

Alexandre Gauthier, chef at "La Grenouillère" in Pas-de-Calais in northern France, has already taken that step. His menus now come with a picture of a camera with a line through it to let customers know photos are not welcome, if not technically banned.

“Photos are not banned, but I want them to question it,” said the Michelin-starred chef.

Like Goujon, Gauthier believes the constant snapping of dishes by smartphone-wielding customers detracts from the dining experience.

“They used to take family photos, of their grandmother, and now its photos of food,” he told AFP. “We tweet, we ‘like’, we comment, we respond. And the food is cold.

“We try to create a short break from ordinary life for our customers. In order to do that, you have to disconnect from your phone.”

But chefs should not be so quick to shirk the free publicity that social networks bring them, says French food blogger Stéphane Riss, of the “Cuisiner en Ligne” website.

“The more we talk about chefs, the better it is for them,” he said. “Photos increase visibility and therefore revenue.”

Some of France’s chefs agree.

“We must move with the times" says David Toutain, who opened his eponymous Paris restaurant in December.

"I think social networks helped me at the start of my career and still help me. It is advertising for us.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-02-14

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