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French chefs fed up with 'food porn'

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A group of French chefs is cracking down on "food porn." (Shutterstock) 

Dinner is served: Do you reach for your smartphone over your knife and fork? 

After a dining table photo shoot, diners dig in to what is now a cold dinner, says a group of leading French chefs, who want an end to the "food porn" culture that is rampant on social networks, according to a Telegraph report

Like elbows, the top restaurateurs want smartphones off the dining table.

"Before they took photos of their family, of their granny. Now it's photos of the dishes," Alexandre Gauthier, chef at the Grenouillere restaurant in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, told La Voix du Nord, the Telegraph reports. 

"There is a time and a place for everything. Our aim is to create a special moment in time for our clients. And for that, you have to switch off your phone."

Cameras are not banned at the northern France restaurant, he says, but the menus feature an image of a camera with a line through it.

"I would like people to be living in the present. Tweet about the meal beforehand, tweet about it afterwards, but in between stop and eat," Gauthier told the Guardian

"Sitting down for a meal should be an enjoyable moment shared with us, not with the social network. Instead of enjoying the moment they are elsewhere. But it is a minority of diners."

Other chefs fear the food glamour shots might spur a copycat of their signature dish.

Gilles Goujon, chef at the three Michelin-starred restaurant L'Auberge du Vieux Puits in southern France, says smartphone snaps rarely flatter a meal.

"If people take a photo and put it out on social media, it takes away the surprise," he told the Midi Libre newspaper, according to the Telegraph. 

"It takes away a little bit of my intellectual property too. Someone could copy me."

"Plus a photo taken on an average smartphone is rarely a great image. It doesn't give the best impression of our work. It's annoying."

According to the Telegraph, Goujon wanted to ban smartphones at his southern France restaurant but is yet to nail a suitable way to do it.

There are no ifs, ands or buts at Momofuku Ko in New York. Chef and owner David Chang is terse about his no-photography policy: "It's just food. Eat it," he told Serious Eats New York in 2008. 

An iPhone-wielding diner felt the wrath of the rule when she took a photo of shaved foie gras at the restaurant and a man in the open kitchen asked that she put her smartphone away, according to a recent New York Times report.

"I was definitely embarrassed," the woman said.

But not every restaurant is so forbidding.

According to a 2012 Daily Dot story, New York restaurant Comodo encouraged diners to take photographs of their food and share snaps on Instagram to curate a sort of visual menu on the social network. 

And rather than tell diners they cannot photograph their food, New York chef David Bouley invites guests to his kitchen, according to the Times. 

"We'll say, 'That shot will look so much better on the marble table in our kitchen,' " Bouley told the Times. "It's like, here's the sauce, here's the plate. Snap it. We make it like an adventure for them instead of telling them no."

Do you photograph food when you dine out? Do you share "food porn" on social networks? Should restaurants ban or restrict food photography? Why or why not? 

Tags: Chefs, Food Porn, France, French, Instagram, Photography, Reaction, Smartphone, Social Media

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