Yahoo! news reported today that a food blogger in Singapore has angered fellow critics when he demanded to eat at an upscale restaurant for free.
The blogger, Brad Lau, runs a food blog called ladyironchef, which critiques restaurants throughout Singapore. His blog has reviewed over 500 eateries, and according to Lau, he never pays to eat where he reviews. All the more surprise for him when he went to Private Affairs, an upscale eatery, and was given his $435 bill after eating with friends.
Other food bloggers are understandably outraged that Lau would demand to eat for free anywhere he reviewed just because he is a food blogger. The perceived sense of entitlement in doing such a thing is disgusting. Not only did he expect to be given free champagne and meals for himself, he also brought three friends along, demanding they eat for free as well.
The reason this bothers me is that I, too am a food blogger. I started Another Food Critic in June to fulfill the same purpose as ladyironchef, except in southern Ohio. One of my professors suggested I do so to increase my critical analysis skills. It’s been a lot of fun.
I get criticism from people who think I have been to harsh on their favorite places, but I will never be criticized for asking for free food. I don’t tell the restaurant I am coming to review them, I don’t expect special favors from them and I never eat anything for free.
Anyone can create a food blog. Lau’s abysmal grammar shows you don’t even need to know how to write in order to do one. It doesn’t even make sense to tell the cook you’re reviewing the food; being a critic inherently means you are looking for the same treatment as anyone else because you want to inform people of the kind of things they themselves should expect there. Food review sites like Yelp actually discourage both critics and restaurants from contacting one another at all for that very reason.
The same principle applies to journalists in a more far-reaching way. A journalist should not expect special treatment, nor should they try to use their status to receive any. A press pass does not entitle a person to a red-carpet experience and anything they want for free. Especially when the best “publication” that person can offer is a poorly-written blog.
That includes the dinner bill, Mr. Lau.