I decided to share my experience of being a foodie in a city where the socials media rule…
I went to check the definition of a “foodie” on Wikipedia, here what I found:
A foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. The terms "gastronome" and "epicure" define the same thing, i.e., a person who enjoys food for pleasure.
Everything started back a couple of years ago, when I realized my friends were kept asking me where to go for dinner. They knew I was always screening the market for work reason and that I was a foodie that liked to pay the right price for the right food.
Following the specialized magazines and foodbloggers, I was able to perform a second skimming for them and recommend only the places more worthwhile than fashionable.
So one day, I decided to build my own website where they could have a look at my favorites restaurants.
If I had a better overview of the “reviews” market at that time, I would have probably never started. But I did it anyway.
My objective was to review only stylish restaurants where you could eat well for a 40€ budget.
I decided not to present myself when tasting a new restaurant, to ensure I won’t get a privileged treatment; a bit like Valerio Visintin, even if I didn’t know him yet. My choice was motivated by one experience I had after seeing a post of Chiara Maci: I brought some friends to a restaurant she promoted, to find the food low average for the price.
I started thinking:
- Is it possible that the chefs cook better when they know someone “special/famous” is in their restaurant?
- Are people making positive reviews because they got paid for it or had free lunch there?
- Is my palate different from the other ones?
- Am I demanding because I think I cook better?
I still don’t have the answer, but the only thing I know is that, if I try 20 new restaurants recommended on the socials, I will probably end adding only one in my blog.
Lately, when I see foodbloggers making positive reviews on a place I have been, where the food was not that great, the wine terrible and expensive, I kind of get pissed off.
Why? Because after 3 years, I consider it as a lot of dedicated evenings, gym training and money wasted. Without mentioning a certain loss of credibility: how many times I organized some dinners with friends saying “no but all the foodbloggers have been there and said it was great”, arrived and got disappointed? I feel embarrassed to make my friends spend money for an experience that is not worthwhile.
I never considered myself as an influencer. And I never decided to boost professionally my “site/blog”, but when I see Instagram stories of bloggers invited to official wine events, holding their glasses as if it was full of coca cola, I’m telling myself: "WTF!" Apologies for my French, but how can you expect quality reviews from people that don’t have the knowledge; only the followers or a pretty face?
Initially I developed L’Escalope Milanaise with an idealistic perspective and I’m still reluctant to business orientate it: the fact of preparing a monthly social media plan, the fact of following profiles just to get follow back, the fact of stressing if you haven't posted, the fact of feeling not rewarded if you don’t have enough likes (especially when you have a pro account and the instagram algorithm changes just to make you sponsorise/pay your posts).
But it’s not easy everyday. If you get invited somewhere, do they expect from you a “nice” review? Personally, I can’t write about the positive aspects of a place if my overall opinion is negative.
Should I post if I didn’t like the place to show that you’re an early adopter? Personally, I don’t, so my profile may feel not active enough to be an influencer and receive proactive information about the new openings...
If you go eating in a standard restaurant, how do you expect to have the right light to make a nice pic? Does it mean you should not post an ugly picture even if the food was worthwhile or should you take the risk of posting an ugly one and have no homogeneity in your profile? Should you ask for the pictures to the restaurant, but then won’t it become advertising? I remember starting using Instagram to share with people who had common interests, pics shots that had something special and a sense of aesthetics. When they were no advertising on your wall… Old good times, I would say.
This summer after 10 days in an island far from everything, I imagined myself quitting my job to make my own goat cheese in the countryside, where there would be no 3/4G network and no new trendy places to post about…
Lately, I had a bit the feeling of having one toe inside and one toe outside… And sometimes I consider shutting my IG account. But following the new trends is part of my work. Is it possible to do this job without being active on the socials? You can’t be an expert in “restaurant creation” if you do not study the current market…
Since the EXPO, the food market became speculative in Milan. Bottom line, the statistics are clear: the restaurants balance is negative. Still, there are so many new places opening everyday that I don’t have enough time and money to try them all. And if you decide to go, there is a high probability you will not eat well anyway, so why try them?
I have been wondering why are we facing such a boom recently. Young executives life crisis (tired of being behind a monitor screen deciding to become chef one day)? Fame quest through the mediatization of program like Masterchef and Top Chef? Money laundry from the Mafia? Being in the food business, I can tell you it’s not that easy to make money with business restaurant nowadays… Everything has to be studied, above all if the chef skills are average… You don’t become a good cook in one day. And customers are looking for unique experiences, so you need to have something more if it's not the food.
Last September, I reached a new threshold and I started refusing going out if I know I will end spending 40€ or more for low quality food and horrendous wine. Because, it’s a fact, Milan is expensive, and finding a restaurant where you eat OK for a 30€ average is a big challenge (exception of some amazing pizzerias we have in town).
Another fact is that Italy is able to provide you awful bottle of wine for 30€, something I never understood, but something that made me become sommelier as I wanted to understand what was behind this reality.
So I told myself, why should I be the guinea pig when people with ”lifestyle” blogging skills are better influencers in term of followers? What’s my personal benefit of a wasted altruism? Do I have the budget and the stomach for it? The answer is no, I hate when it takes me 3 days to digest a “new” food experience and I’m tired to spend hours at the gym…
So I adopted this more ego-centered philosophy where I prefer to cook at home and buy a good bottle of wine. I think I want to become a late, very late adopter. And when I want to eat well, I will book a restaurant where I know, food, service, quality and price met. A restaurant where you need to book days and days before to guarantee you a seat, because other foodies know it’s good. A restaurant that you will never find on the fork or that don’t need big promotions on facebook.
This is the new foodie version of me. A version quitting the marathon of new openings. A version posting less. Until when you may wonder? End of the year? The bets are open...