Saturday, 6 November 2010

Marcus Wareing Blog Controversy - it happens in Devon too!

Well, Marcus Wareing is cross with food bloggers, The Critical Couple who have mildly criticised his talents and establishment as was reported in The Guardian yesterday:

I'm interested to know who reported it to the Guardian - MW or the food bloggers themselves?  Their review was fair, balanced and only a tiny bit negative.  They are entitled to their point of view and have previously given his restaurant two outstanding reviews - surely constructive criticism is a good thing?  Something he can learn from?  It doesn't strike me that they were being in any way malicious.

Well, I was pondering the rights and wrongs of publicly criticising establishments rather than having a 'quiet word' and now I seem to have provoked some outrage myself by voicing my concerns about a Newton Abbot restaurant's 'local food' claims.

I think I should have got my facts straight before I made my queries.  My pondering maybe should have been kept to myself rather than making it public and online - this has antagonised the cafe owner and I shall think twice about posting anything negative or critical in the future as it makes them feel bad and it certainly makes me regret it.  So, can we look forward to lots of over-effusive / bland  advertorials and no personal comment or opinion on food blogs in the future?

I'm torn on this one.  I think my comments in the future are going to be (in the main) positive.  But I will be frank and straight (it's ingrained in my personality).  So if it's on my food blog, I LOVE it unreservedly and can wholeheartedly recommend it, and if it's not on here, it's either because I haven't been there, or I've had a bad experience with that eating establishment / food supplier.  I don't want to get into any tussles, this blog is just a bit of fun, this is a hobby, not a way of life, and not a source of income.  And I appreciate that for the food producers / establishments it is far more than that.


Janice said...

Oh Kate, that is such a shame that people can't share their opinion, after all that is what blogging is all about. However, I understand where you are coming from and look forward to seeing the things you really like :)

Angie said...

Kate. I find it so very sad that you are being made to feel this way. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if these cheffy prima donnas can't take an honest opinion from a customer then I think they don't deserve to HAVE customers

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

I feel very bad for how you feel. However I think the reason why we have comments on our pages is that both parties can voice their opinions. You were curious about locality and I think that was taken abit out of context as is so very easier done on the internet. I do think it was acceptable for the Cafe to respond to it, and you have a right to respond to that as well.

The whole point of our reviews etc is to give our honest opinions and voice those opinions and is good to get feedback on them.

Hope you not to offended by the comments etc, and please do accept my apologies if you feel my comment was not acceptable.

Matthew :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

I saw the comments you're referring to on Matthew's blog...and to be honest, I think it's sometimes hard to judge tone of voice when reading what someone else has written. Personally I think it's great that the owner of the Pizza Cafe has taken the time to respond and clarify the source of his ingredients. I don't think you should have kept your thoughts to yourself - if anything, I think that it's added more to the blog post (please don't take offence to this Matthew - I'm not slating your post!) Hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say :)

In terms of not writing negative reviews...we had a conversation about this at lunch. I'm always conpletely honest when reviewing places: if I'm not happy with something, I'll say that I'm not happy with something. I won't avoid writing about it purely because I'm worried about offending people. I trust food bloggers and other local reviewers far more than I'd trust well-known food critics: when I'm reading up on reviews, I always check blogs and sites such as Qype and Yelp as I'd rather read about the experiences of people like me.

Local businesses should see it as a chance to respond to criticisms and an opportunity to improve, rather than taking offence :)


Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

I think we should all take a long hard look at why we're blogging the first place... are we doing it for the love of food or because we get some pleasure in other people reading our opinions?... or is it because some of us get free meals in return for a good review?... or is a passion for good service and good food so strong that we simply musty share our thoughts?... or a little bit of all of the above?...

...yes I think it's a shame you feel this way Kate... you have EVERY right to write what you like about anything and post it on your blog... but if you offend then you should be prepared for the comeback, which i think is fair enough...

... all chef's have ego's but they also do it for the glory as well as the passion... but then all food bloggers are the same... or we wouldn't do it publicly... would we?

James said...

No comment ;)

Northern Snippet said...

Well done for handling this in the way you did.
To be fair though you may have voiced what other people were perhaps thinking and subsequently what has come out of this is the fact that the Cafe has been able to confirm their sources of supply.
The problem is that many businesses have jumped onto the"using local" bandwagon when in fact they arent.
(See link below).
Sadly we are aware of businesses in this area which actually use the local ideal as a marketing tool without any care for Provenance or food miles.

Grazing Kate said...

Janice, Angie - thanks for your supportive comments. It think we're approaching this from the same angle.

Matthew - not a problem - no offense caused! How were the bangers and mash at that farm shop outside Exeter today? We didn't make it - went for a walk in the woods instead which was beautiful with the autumn colours and abundant fungi.

Bristol - thanks for your comments - I shall be looking at your blog with interest - I'm originally a Bristol lass but haven't lived there since I was 17 and (despite Devon's charms) I miss it. Food bloggers' reviews are important to me too, however as Dom comments "if you offend then you should be prepared for the comeback which i think is fair enough"... I'm going to concentrate on the positives (whilst remaining honest) rather than the negatives. I don't like upsetting people. And as my other half said earlier, in person, people might disagree, but agree to disagree on a point and move on to something else and find common ground. On the web, the argument remains, in print, and possibly unresolved. I like to make amends and resolve problems.

Northern - I think the pizza cafe owner confirmed that he has a slightly different interpretation of 'local' food to me, although his list of suppliers was more comprehensive than I expected. Although I'm not a fan of the Daily Wail, I shall take a look in the interests of research...Chatting to a couple of restauranteurs the other night, I realised that they are a tad suspicious of food bloggers, and there was me thinking I provide a great form of free advertising for them and that we are a welcome addition to the web.

Dom - my reasons for food blogging are:
1. Love of good quality, locally-produced food
2. I enjoy the mingling and chatter with other food bloggers and feel that we're part of like-minded community who aren't paid by advertising
3. I like to feel that I am (altruistically) helping all those excellent small food producers, cafes, shops that may not have the funds / time on their hands for self-promotion
4. I just like to share 'top tips' and the web is ideal for this - I give tips / advice / reviews and I receive them in equal measure from bloggers that I respect and appreciate.

I certainly do this 'with passion' but I really am not keen on the 'glory' aspect you mention. And I sometimes wish I did get a free meal! Of course if I did I would mention this, but so far, no freebies except for the Total Greek Yoghurt!

Local restaurants and cafes, take note, what about inviting a handful of food bloggers to your revamped premises or new venture? You'd be assured of some honesty, a wide range of honest opinions from REAL people and publicity. This is the norm in NYC and London - so it'll probably happen in Devon and Cornwall in about 30 years time!

Anonymous said...

Thats good to know :).

Unfortunately I couldnt make it, Family members Birthday yesterday and no matter how much I explain its food and for a good cause apparently family is more important...... THAN FOOD!!!! dont think so..... lol.

Going to go there anyway this week just to look around.

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