Smash or Trash: Taking photos during dinner?

Chef Chiarello likes to surprise his diners on occasion. But, he fears, with well-meaning patrons zapping their photos all over Twitter and Facebook it becomes increasingly likely that a customer has seen that, done that - if even only virtually.

Loni and the Morimoto experience.
Smile: Loni Kao Stark works the dish at Morimoto, Napa.
Loni and the Morimoto experience.
Smile: Loni Kao Stark works the dish at Morimoto, Napa.

San Francisco Bay Area food and wineIn a blog post on SFGate (Inside Scoop SF), Bottega Chef Michael Chiarello wonders if it’s acceptable to take photos during a meal. In his bit — Photography at dinner: Yay or nay? — he admits to being on the fence about the whole deal, and raises some interesting points.

One, for example, that could only come from a chef’s perspective.

Chiarello likes to surprise his diners on occasion. But, he fears, with well-meaning patrons zapping their photos all over Twitter and Facebook it becomes increasingly likely that a customer has seen that, done that – if even only virtually. “It deflates my sails a little when one of the diners, just before a dish comes out, describes it in detail to everybody else at the table and holds up a photo on their phone,” he writes.

Then there’s the whole aspect of etiquette. Is it really appropriate to photograph like mad during a meal? Or is it just poor form?

For Loni here at Stark Insider (seen in the photo above shooting at Morimoto in Napa) that can be a tough call. Discretion is always welcome, but sometimes to get that great shot – the one readers will absolutely fawn over – means going out on a limb. We’re doing this professionally (give or take) here, but to other diners and patrons that might not make one iota of difference. Yessiree Bob, get your flash out of my foie gras!

Chiarello, as if on a research mission worthy of MIT, wants to know more. Inquiring minds must know: “Do you photograph for the main purpose of putting it on Yelp or Chowhound? Are you recording it so you can re-create the dish at home?”

At the end of the day (or world), we’re guessing chefs and restauranteurs alike aren’t adverse to the idea of customers snapping away and then broadcasting to the world. Social networking and free publicity are, after all, a match made in foodie heaven.

Speaking of Morimoto… do you know about the Yellow Chair?

[SFGate.com]

Contributing: Thanks to Loni Kao Stark, aka “sushiweakness.”

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