In­sta­gram ef­fects

Canada’s 100 Best - - Stuff We Love -

IT SEEMS LIKE ONLY YES­TER­DAY

that chefs ev­ery­where were nois­ily com­plain­ing about smart­phone-tot­ing cus­tomers snap­ping pho­tos of their dishes. At the time they per­ceived the habit as a slight— food was be­ing ne­glected and con­sumed post-prime—and in­con­sid­er­ate to other cus­tomers (flashes). Some chefs even claimed prof­its were suf­fer­ing, as time wasted tak­ing snap­shots was ex­tend­ing meal times enough to de­prive busy restau­rants of an ex­tra seat­ing. Flashes were pro­hib­ited in restau­rants rang­ing from Per Se and Le Bernardin (in NYC) to The Fat Duck (in Bray, U.K.). And some iras­ci­ble chefs went even fur­ther. David Chang banned food pho­tog­ra­phy out­right at Ko (NYC) and Shōtō (Toronto). Need­less to say, this did not work. But then, nei­ther did chef Chang lead by ex­am­ple (at last count, he had over 750,000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram, where he mostly posts pic­tures of his own restau­rant food). Of course, Chang is no ex­cep­tion; across the board, chefs have col­lec­tively be­come our most un­apolo­getic ad­dicts of smart­phone pho­tog­ra­phy. In­sta­gram is now their pre­ferred medium of self-pro­mo­tion. And why not? It is like a dream come true: ad­ver­tis­ing that’s free, has no gov­ern­ing coun­cil of stan­dards, and gets great re­sults. We don’t be­grudge them the bo­nanza but we do want to know whether it’s been good for the food we eat. Whether it has helped spread great ideas—or put too much em­pha­sis on looks over sub­stance. Does the trend have legs, or will it soon col­lapse like the tall food phe­nom­e­non back in the ’90s? Our con­trib­u­tors in­ves­ti­gated, and pro­vided the fol­low­ing case stud­ies to help you de­cide.

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