Food Porn Ban? Redonkulous!


This is a guest post by Nate Towne.

Let me be frank – I can get behind some folks’ desire to ban porn. It leads to moral depravity, tempts innocents down the road to corruption, [insert silly conservative reasons to ban porn here], blah blah blah. I get it. I don’t support it by any means, but I get it. But a ban on Food Porn (a.k.a. photos taken of food to be shared across the internet) is just redonkulous, for lack of a better word.

To what do I refer? Today Mashable reported in its article, “The Death of Foodstagram,” that some restaurants in NYC are banning patrons from taking pictures of food in restaurants, citing this increasingly-popular practice is, of all things, a distraction. To diners and to staff alike.

According to Moe Issa, owner of Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, on why his restaurant has banned food photos, “Some people are arrogant about it. They don’t understand why. But we explain that it’s one big table and we want the people around you to enjoy their meal. They pay a lot of money for this meal. It became even a distraction for the chef.”

And at Chef’s Table, you will pay a lot of money for the meal – the current prix-fixe price is $225 per person plus tax and 20% service fee. Cheap, it ain’t.

To me this seems like shooting yourself in the foot. Or the cash register. Restaurants cater to Foodies – folks that live for food, to eat, to discuss, to share, and yes – to review. Foodies love taking photos of food – especially food that is elevated to a higher plane, food that is art itself due to composition and plating. The very best chefs (and probably some of the worst) know that we “eat with our eyes” first and that an artfully arranged plate can be jaw-dropping, and thus can demand higher prices. Why else would we pay outrageous sums for an appetizer that’s roughly the size of a small vole? As humans, we like to experience new sensations – and as a global community with instant connectivity through social networks and technology, many of us are compulsively driven to share with others.

How many of us have spied a delicious dish on Twitter and made plans to visit the restaurant that served up that dish because of the photo alone?

How many chefs have achieved celebrity status because pictures and word of their food artistry has spread to the masses via Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr?

Are we less moved to action by a tweet that simply talks about food vs. shares a photo of the culinary masterpiece in question? I argue yes, yes we are.

A ban on patrons taking pictures of food in restaurants is sheer ludicrousness on many fronts, and one can only imagine the restaurants banning the practice will suffer due to negative social backlash against the policy as well as a noticeable reduction in the number of patrons visiting the restaurant. It’s hard enough to launch and keep a restaurant successful, why handicap your efforts in such a manner?

I predict such bans will quickly fade into obscurity – and that patrons will take pictures of food regardless. Because this is the Age of Digital, and it permeates every aspect of our lives. The efforts of a handful of restaurateurs trying to stem the tide of progress are as silly as a ban on taking pictures of food in restaurants. What’s next: not allowing patrons to ask what’s in a dish that’s being served?

I know I’d rather eat at Arby’s before I’d eat at a restaurant that won’t allow me my God-given right to capture my palatable property in digital format and share it with my peeps. True story.

Just don’t make me eat my words. They’re ever-so filthy.

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