No phone zone - The Waterside Inn pulls the shutters down on Instagram

By Sophie Witts

- Last updated on GMT

The Waterside Inn asks diners not to Instagram

Related tags Waterside inn Bray berkshire Michel roux

The debate about food photography in restaurants has been reignited following reports that The Waterside Inn has requested its diners keep their phones in their pockets.

Founder Michel Roux has put up a sign asking people to refrain from taking pictures of their meal at the three-Michelin-starred Bray restaurant.

His son Alain Roux, who took over as chef-patron in 2002, declined to comment on the restaurant’s policy when contacted by BigHospitality​, but Michel told The Daily Mail​ he was getting ‘so upset’ about diners trying to get the perfect Instagram shot rather than enjoying their meal.

“We put a card at the door saying ‘No photos, please’”, he said.

“I mean, what are they doing? Maybe once during the meal you want to take a little photo of something because it’s unusual. But what about the flavours?

“A picture on a phone cannot possibly capture the flavours.”

Despite Roux’s request, there are still numerous photographs of the Waterside Inn’s dishes posted on Instagram from the past week alone.

The rise of amateur food photographers has divided the restaurant industry. French chef Alexandre Gauthier made headlines in 2014 for imposing an outright ban on the practice at his restaurant La Grenouillère, even going so far as to put an image of a camera with a line through it on his menus.

“Whatever happened to enjoying the company and not staring at a screen for the first hour?” he told The Michelin Guide​ last year. “Be in the moment and forget about all that for a bit – that is how a real dining experience should be.”

High-end places such as Thomas Keller’s Per Se and The Fat Duck also discourage flash photography.

In New York David Chang’s Momofuku Ko used to famously slap down diners​ whipping out their phones to photograph the shaved foie, but like many in the industry it has since softened its stance.

The restaurant now regularly posts pictures of its own dishes, and recently shared a re-gram from a diner who took the image in 2012 when the ban was still in place.

“That didn’t stop this intrepid photographer, now regular guest, who we will avoid public-shaming for his previous crimes,” the restaurant wrote.

Last year a survey of 2,000 Britons​by restaurant booking site OpenTable found that diners were somewhat hypocritical over the issue.

Nine in ten agreed it was ‘rude’ to use phones at the table, while eight in ten said they would welcome a ‘no phone zone’ in restaurants.

However, a third of participants admitted asking for a restaurant’s Wi-Fi code before ordering a meal, while the study found Brits spent an average of seven minutes on their phones when eating out.


Related topics Restaurant Openings Casual Dining

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