Should food photos be banned?

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NZ Chefs, Simon Wright, Josh Emett and Sean Connolly. Photo / NZH, HOS
NZ Chefs, Simon Wright, Josh Emett and Sean Connolly. Photo / NZH, HOS

The popular trend of photographing food is infuriating some of the world's top chefs, but three New Zealand culinary kings say they aren't fussed by snap-happy diners.

Fed up with diners capturing meals on their smartphones to post on social networks, several Michelin-starred French establishments are trying to crack down on so-called "food porn".

Alexandre Gauthier, chef at La Grenouillere in the northern town of La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, has put an image of a camera with a strike-through on his menu.

Read more: Food photos fire up top chefs

However, Simon Wright, the owner of one of NZ's finest establishments, The French Cafe, says he thinks this move is over the top and "precious".

Wright isn't a food photographer himself, but says his Auckland diners are always standing up before tucking in to take a picture to send in to cyberspace.

He sees it as a positive part of a generation prepared to share every aspect of their life online.

"People see these pictures and think 'I want to go and have dinner,'" Wright explains.

"I think that people come to your restaurant to come for an experience and for a memory."

MasterChef judge and Michelin star chef Josh Emett agrees it's a boon for business, but points out that it does depend on how well the meal is captured.

"When there's a lot of photos floating out there and ... they're looking a bit rough, it's not great," says Emett, the owner of a portfolio of NZ eateries including Ostro, Rata and Madame Woo.

"It's not always a fair representation of what we do."

Chef Sean Connolly, who's set to open his new venture, Gusto, this week says his main beef is also with unflattering photography.

"I've had my staff take photos of food and I've had my customers take photos of food and I just don't think they're that good at taking photos.

"The images don't do the food justice."

However, none of the Kiwi chefs are too bothered by the buzz.

Back in France, Gilles Goujon, chef at the three-starred L'Auberge du Vieux Puits in the southern town of Fontjoncouse, agrees.

"A photo taken with a not-so-good smartphone is rarely good," he says.

"It doesn't give the best image of our work. It's annoying."

Gauthier wants his diners to disconnect and soak up the full experience of eating out.

"It is gratifying, but we're a restaurant without very much light, so they have to use a flash. And with each dish it's 'stop everything', or the photo has to be retaken three times.

"It's Tweeted, liked, comments are made and replied to - by then the dish is cold."

He says food pictures "take away the surprise" of some of his dishes and "take a bit of my intellectual property".

"It's complicated to ban it," Goujon says.

"I'm trying to find the right way to say it on the menu but haven't found the proper formula so it doesn't make people angry."

Do you take pictures of your meals? Do you think it should be banned?

- www.nzherald.co.nz, AFP

Nicky Park

Editor of Life & Style.

Nicky lives to wine, dine and thrive. As Life & Style Editor at the New Zealand Herald online, she feels lucky she can call this work. Nicky crafted her writing skills as a cadet for an Australian news wire. Amongst the coverage of sport, news, finance and courts she found a favourite in features. A stint as a foreign correspondent sent this chipper Aussie across the Tasman, covering the big issues of the Pacific Islands. Every single day Nicky relishes the opportunities she has to mix and mingle with interesting people, feast on delicious food, visit new places and write all about it. Nicky wants everyone to make the most of their minutes, learn lots and live their best life.

Read more by Nicky Park

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