‘Food selfie’ craze catching on with diners, but is eating away at chefs

Published by adviser, Author: Kelsey Phillips - Rocket Contributor, Date: October 9, 2014
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Picture yourself at your favorite restaurant. As you fill up on endless bread baskets and salad, your heart rate elevates when you see your waitress on the horizon, a steaming tray of food wrapped snugly in her arm.

She sets a warmed plate down in front of you – coal-fired pizza with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, tomato and mini Italian meatballs waits on your plate. You are about to take the much anticipated initial bite but first…let me take a ‘food selfie’.

With the spread of Instagram and Twitter, amateur food photography accounts such as “Food Porn,” have become more popular than peanut butter and jelly. iPhone apps and filters have been developed specifically for the everyday foodie wishing to capture the perfect drip of an ice cream cone. Whether you’re for it or against it, there’s no denying people are obsessed with taking pictures of their food.

There are many reasons for this. First of all, eating is typically a social activity. Not only do people go to restaurants to satisfy a basic need for food, but also to catch up with friends.

Snapping food pictures can also be a sign of social status (the proof is in the pudding). Who wins bragging rights when your library sells sushi and another sells Nature Valley bars for a quarter?

Frequent exercisers often use the hashtags, #tweetwhatyoueat and #eatcleantraindirty, to show their progress or to hold themselves accountable for their diet. Others may use their photos to tell a story or, if you’re like me, you just really like food and take an interest in its creation.

So you want to show all your followers the 12-ounce steak and two pounds of crab legs you ordered for dinner tonight – no biggie (except for your stomach), right?

Actually, many people are beginning to complain about ‘food selfies’ and that they might even be illegal.

KSHB News reported a study that revealed one to two-hour wait times for local restaurants. The reason? Customers spend too much time on their phones. While they text and take food photos to post on social media they actually forget to eat their meal, leading to longer waiting times and “hangry” customers (Hangry – when you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated, a vegetarian, or all of the above).

Behind the counter is another story. Starting with Gilles Goujon, from the highly rated L’Auberge du Vieux Puits in France, several chefs have come forward to voice their opinions on food selfies, and they don’t need 140 characters to express that the practice is a big “no.”

In the sense of an artist creating an original masterpiece, some chefs believe it is stealing their property to post photos of their dishes on public sites without consent. Some have gone as far as printing “no camera” policies on their menus.

And before you brush this controversy off because it is occurring in high-end restaurants overseas, yinz Americans have similar opinions. First Lady Michelle Obama made a statement this past summer that she does not approve of seeing what you had for lunch on her newsfeed (But let’s be honest. If I lived in the White House I wouldn’t care what you had for lunch either. I’d be too busy Instagramming my own – hello, personal chef). Her campaign, Let’s Move, promotes healthy eating and posts “sensible” meals on its social media sites (but whether it’s McDonalds or a carrot – ‘food selfies’ are ‘food selfies’).

So what does ol’ Bread and Butters think about this controversy? I must say I’m pro-food (shocker, I know). While I do understand the chefs’ point of view that it is their artwork being sent out on plates, you pay for your meal.

If I want to eat half and dump the rest on my head I am able to (although it would be frowned upon because it’s 1. embarrassing and 2. wasteful.). If I want to show off my beautiful, molten lava cake to my online friends – I think I should be able to also.

It’s all for fun, and not to purposely strip the chefs of their ownership (who wants to plagiarize food when you have a midterm paper to write?). Bottom line: as soon as the plate hits the table I think food photos are fair game (no need to worry about me sneaking into the kitchen to take photos just yet). And food photos of your own cooking are applauded.

So go ahead – post that picture of your triple bacon cheeseburger, arrange those crêpes to capture the perfect lighting, take a moment with your chicken cordon bleu to appreciate your freedom of expression.

Selfie on, Butter Lovers.

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