Dear Foodie: Photography Faux Pas

Dear Foodie,

Recently while dining out, I snapped a picture of my sirloin steak dish. I thought that the matre de was going to break my camera as he came rushing over and demanded that taking pictures of food was forbidden by the chef who is a well known celebrity chef in this town. I was very embarrassed and only wanted to share the picture with Facebook friends. I thought the restaurant would be happy with that. What gives? – Food Terrorist in Illinois

Dear Food Terrorist,

I have heard this complaint a lot lately and I am scratching my head over it.  Pictures of food are all over Facebook and that appears to me to be free advertising. Unlike some of the internet sites that try to tear restaurants down, I have seen only positive pictures of delicious looking food and its origins on Facebook. I can only guess one of three things: (1) that there is some fear that copycats will try to make the same dish drawing diners away in a competitive business; (2) that the egos of celebrity chefs is out of control and this is just one more way to take over the world; or (3) a likely combination of numbers one and two and also this: in case you haven’t noticed, most of us are happy to be enslaved. We like people telling us what to do and not do. Such a thing relieves us the responsibility of making decisions on our own. An example: In a recent article in the New York Times about lawsuits being filed by waiters alleging they were mistreated and underpaid, it was noted that the same restaurant (Urasawa in Los Angeles) imposes strict rules on its burgeoning client base which seems to not care at all about the workers: no pictures of food,  sushi (the specialty) must be eaten within 10 seconds of being served, and no copies of the itemized bills are to leave the premises. For this, the diners pay a typical tab of $1,000. I sense a certain sado-masochism going on here. So, check out the restaurant where you encountered such rudeness and see what other rules you are required to follow. My guess is that you’ll go back anyway and your subconscious will be whispering all the while, “go ahead – make my day – mistreat me, please.”

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