Achatz has weighed in on cameras in restaurants. Get ready for a new set of rules.
"I love that ppl. are so interested. But the lengths ppl. r going to get video of their meal is becoming invasive to staff and other guests," he wrote.
Later, having gotten a lot of reaction to his tweet, he put up a blog post on Alinea Mosaic. Again, he was very gracious—"I appreciate that people are so into food, and excited about eating at Alinea, to the point where it drives them to record it," he started—but he went on to express some concerns. "I understand taking a photo in the kitchen with the chef...[or] perhaps of a particular course that you want to remember...but I wonder why people so passionate about food would sacrifice the integrity of the courses, instead prioritizing the documentation. Courses get cold, or melt while the images are taken, and in extreme cases the intended effect of the dish is completely lost." Among Achatz's other concerns are time ("three extra minutes to take a photo is not much, but if you are eating 30 courses, you just added an hour and a half to your dinner"), the interruption of other diners ("what about the people in the restaurant that are there to –- eat?") and the increasing use of video ("voice recorders are being held in front of [servers] while they describe a course or a wine, or video is shot. It is uncomfortable… and frankly rude to do so without asking").
Plenty of people will weigh in on whether they agree with Achatz. More important, though, is what Achatz's blog post signals. Alinea is one of the most Internet-friendly restaurants on the planet; whereas many chefs are outwardly annoyed by bloggers and even technology in general (i.e. Twitter), chef Achatz was an early and passionate embracer of blogs and food forums. That this technology-friendly chef is now expressing concerns about the use of cameras in his restaurant suggests that something has been breached.
Like the Internet in general, the use of cameras in restaurants is still a new, lawless phenomenon. And just as blogs are now settling into their own set of rules and mores, diners with cameras—and the resturants that serve them—will soon follow suit. How the custom gets adapted, and with what rules of etiquette, is impossible to say right now. But because Mr. Achatz is weighing in, they will be realized sooner rather than later.
Also check out: