Achatz Blasts Dining Room Documentors

With the increase in interest in the developing culinary scene, the subject of food documentation is a hot topic. Bourdain covered it in a recent No Reservations (and was not loved for his opinion), with Chicago chef Grant Achatz the latest to comment on the oft-discussed situation.

Achatz, the owner and chef at the award-winning Alinea, is world-renowned for his extensive dishes. According to Time Out New York, Achatz began with a tweet on the dining room invasiveness, and followed up with a post on the restaurant’s discussion board. As the chef notes, it’s become much like the Hollywood paparazzi.

This activity seems strange to me, I can’t imagine how celebrities feel. No wonder they punch the paparazzi out when they get the chance.

I agree with Achatz. I think it’s a benefit to restaurants and chefs who are the subject of documentation – free press is free press – but at the same time, I understand as a diner how distracting is to have people taking photos during a meal. I completely understand the purpose, and if I ever end up at dinner at Alinea, I can’t promise I won’t take photos, but there should be a level of respect when bringing a camera into a space where people are enjoying private moments.

It’s a rarity for me to take my camera out at a meal unless the restaurant has been notified that I will be doing as such. If I’m planning to document a meal, or even take pictures of a restaurant’s interior and activities, I almost always make plans with the restaurant beforehand, booking a table at the earliest seating. I’d rather have a chef who’s happy to have me in the dining room than one who vows to never let me in the restaurant again. Enjoy your pictures, but don’t lose the magic of the dining experience!

*Editor’s Note: Original post edited to remove fantastic announcement about Alinea At Home on the road – which I thought was a great idea, but turns out to be an elaborate April Fools.  Well done, Carol Blymire, well done.

~Jennifer Heigl

3 replies on “Achatz Blasts Dining Room Documentors”
  1. says: jenniferhh

    Oy. I didn’t until after this post was already published! Duly noted and adjusted accordingly!

  2. says: Jenny

    OK, I have to admit – I loathe the cameras at restaurants, even though I’m an avid documentarian at home. It’s different when I’m at a food cart or a hawker stall in Singapore, or even at a farmers market. But at a restaurant, well, I think it’s just utterly rude (unless you’re on assignment, you’ve notified the restaurant before, and you’re not intrusive to other patrons). I was horrified when one of my dining companions grabbed all our plates from us at a very fine restaurant and then proceeded to stand on a chair to get a good overhead shot – while our food got cold on the table. I don’t like it when my family’s late to the table and things get cold – I can imagine it’s the same to watch people just staring at (but not eating) the food you’ve worked so hard to create.

    I wish more folks were considerate of other diners’ experiences in restaurants. Thanks for covering this.

Comments are closed.