Hi, my name is Kayli and I am a blogger.
I literally whispered that as I typed it. Why? Because we have a bad rep. People hate bloggers. People are bloggist.
I have been relatively safe. I‘ve kept my head down; been honest, but kind; not caused any chaos, but still, I’ve had my fair share of animosity come my way. “What do you know about food, you are only 23!” and “You aren’t a chef, why do you write about food!?” and my favourite, “Real reviews are on paper!”
Well you know what, f*** all of you that think that way. No, I am not a chef, no, I have no formal culinary training, no, I haven’t travelled the world sampling magnificent delights served to me on golden plates by Turkish royalty. But I have never claimed to be any of those things.
I write honest reviews. I don’t write for the hot-shot foodies. The hot-shot foodies can find it out for themselves. I write for the public, in a way that I think people can appreciate and understand. I’m not out to get free food, I’m not out to become the next Nigella, I’m not out to cause a scene for my dramatics and I certainly don’t want to hurt restaurants just for the sake of it. I am out to let people who love eating out, hear an opinion on what is out there.
Yes, this is leading somewhere. Just hear me out.
Bloggers are so often generalised and accused of being arrogant, entitled, superficial assholes, who will do anything for a free chop. There are many that fit into that category: they gain massive, oft negative exposure, they get lots off free stuff and then plummet into a misery pit of disrespect, but people carry on following them for the controversy. It’s like an accident, you just have to slow down, and look. These people exist, but we are not all like that. I would rather 5 people read our blog per month, people who appreciate what is being said, rather than stoop to this level.
THIS SAID, while bloggers can be full on douchebags, restaurants can be douchebags too.
The other day I was invited to a restaurant. Now, like I said before, I don’t arrive at restaurants without a booking and demand free food, but this restaurant called me up, invited me, told me to bring along a guest and have a wonderful evening. I wasn’t going to stomp my foot and say “no”, that would just be silly.
So off I went to the restaurant. The manager sat down with us and we began chatting about the restaurant, he ordered a drink, he told us to have whatever we wanted, he told us that we “can’t just have one starter each! Have more!” and so we did. Funny thing was, he did too. He sat with us the entire meal, telling us that we weren’t eating or drinking enough and ordering more for us. It felt like a first date, and a bad one: the stunted conversation, the awkward silences, the forced friendliness. After eating our entire meal with us, he pops off and returns moments later with the bill. The full bill, including the food and drinks he just consumed. After 2 minutes, the bill was snatched off the table, and brought back after having been halved. I still paid for half the guy’s food. I still paid to sit there awkwardly all night.
The following day I did a little investigating and found out the reason for this treatment. Apparently the owners insisted that a manager/host sat with us, such that we could be observed throughout the night. I mean, who knows, I may have gotten drunk and stolen some cutlery or perhaps begun stripping on a table. Also, the owners allegedly said that they didn’t think that bloggers had any influence, and therefore I was not deserving of a free meal. Fine, I accept that opinion on bloggers, but then don’t invite one. I am not going to say which restaurant this was, because their food was lovely and the venue was great. I’m not out to attack their reputation, because the experience I had, had nothing to do with the food they serve or the way that they treat customers. They have a completely warped perception of what blogging is about and the right protocols to go by. They don’t deserve to be slammed, but they also don’t deserve any online exposure, because they don’t appreciate its worth.
On another occasion, a restaurant offered me a free meal and then asked if that meant that they would receive a positive review. Needless to say, that review never even happened.
The point of this article is to say that bloggers have an unfair deal. Yeah, there are a lot who I wouldn’t trust to review a baked potato, but most of us are legit. Restaurants also get it wrong, they think we can be bought. They think they can wave their fancy menus in our faces and POOOOF! a miraculous review goes viral. They also don’t always realise that sometimes, we do take our work seriously, and therefore we should be taken seriously too.
Both sides can be and are often wrong. As much as I hate to rehash an old story, just look at the Beluga Saga of January 2012. The case of what came across as an arrogant blogger vs. the overly defensive restaurant owner.
Neither party handled the situation well and look how that turned out? The blogger got a bad name in many circles and the restaurant owner was seen, once again, not to have his customers as his first priority.
There are bloggers who are respected. They’re the hot-shots who have been around for years. The hot-shots that everyone loves. The hot-shots who I love because they inspire me. But the sad thing is that the hot-shots don’t always like us. A lot of them differentiate themselves (because ultimately, they are bloggers too) from us young-blood, by saying that we aren’t doing a real job because we have not studied food. Ya, well I haven’t. But I have worked in a restaurant waitressing, managing and training, I’ve cooked with two catering companies and while I may not have studied anything to do with food, I am hungry and willing to learn.
Until the day that bloggers start taking their work more seriously so we can get more credit, restaurants stop getting away with “buying” good reviews and more people accept that online writing is a viable source of information, this power struggle is going to exist.
Until that day… I ignore all the drama and I just write.