Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Restaurant Apologises For Foul-Mouthed Twitter Rant At Customer

A Dublin restaurant is the latest eatery to find itself at the centre of a social media row after calling a disgruntled customer an “arsehole” on Twitter.

Cinnamon, an upmarket cafe and wine bar in Ranelagh, issued a grovelling apology and said it had disciplined the staff member who sent out the insulting tweets.

The unnamed worker saw red during a particularly busy Sunday service when blogger Sean Mongey sent out a message on Twitter, saying he had been waiting in the “pretentious crèche” for 40 minutes and his food still hadn’t arrived.

Cinnamon replied with a snooty: “We don’t have a problem that needs to be solved we are Dublin’s busiest restaurant on Sunday...Expect delays.”

When the customer threatened to take his business elsewhere, the family-friendly restaurant replied: “Please do. You’ll be one less person in the Q.”

The staff member then added for good measure: "Here's something else for you to re tweet. You're an arsehole. Why don't you come in and introduce yourself to us."

Six hours later, the restaurant deleted the offending tweets and issued an apology on its Facebook page, offering in a self-effacing style while also appearing to enjoy the attention, that it would be serving coffees for one euro for the next week to diners who mentioned “Twittergate” while ordering.

“We wish to formally apologise to the customer, who we accept had a legitimate complaint,” the statement said. "We are a very busy restaurant and this past weekend had 50% more customers than a normal weekend and were overwhelmed by this.

“Staff morale is very important to us and has been severely affected by this incident. We employ over 50 staff and would not wish to jeopardise their livelihood."

Seems a bit of a storm in a coffee cup, compared with the foul-mouthed Twitter rants an unknown blogger was subjected to last week by Claude Bosi and his celebrity chef chums after complaining about his crab starter at the French cook’s London restaurant Hibiscus.

Bosi, Tom Kerridge, and Sat Baines dubbed James Isherwood a “cunt”, with Kerridge adding: “Smash him in, chef Bosi.”

None of them have apologised, as far as I know, so you have to applaud Cinnamon restaurant for doing so over a much milder mauling. But the way the blogger has relentlessly milked the story over the past few days it makes you wonder whether they might have had a point.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Ferran Adria And Ridiculous Food Trend No. 137 - Digital Gastronomy

Reading Ferran Adria’s latest musings on the future of food, I’m left wondering whether he plans to invent the edible computer. Because I’ve read his BBC article about trying to “discover the genome of cuisine”, whatever that is, several times, and I’m still left wondering what the hell he is talking about.

The celebrity chef, who closed El Bulli, widely regarded as the best restaurant in the world, last year, says his next recipe involves a sprinkling of algorithms, a pinch of digital technology, an emulsion of raw data, and a few generous glugs of innovation to create La Bullipedia (catchy name) - an online, curated database that, he claims, “will one day contain every piece of gastronomic knowledge” and change the way people think about food forever.

Or at least that’s what I think he is saying, because when you actually cut through the jargon and nerd speak it all reads like a badly-written press release, typed by someone in the PR office who should have left half an hour ago.

“Cooking shares many characteristics with the internet - both are the sum of many parts and both enjoy the rare gift of limitless potential. Digital technology, when combined with innovation, plays a key role to unlocking this potential,” he writes.

“I firmly believe that as a chef if you only speak to other cooks you'll get bored. Bullipedia uses cooking as a language...” etc etc.

But hang on, haven’t we got this already? Isn’t every bit of culinary knowledge you are ever likely to never need already just a few clicks away on the internet? No, apparently, according to the Spanish chef.

“The internet on its own is limited because information can be found without the need to actually acquire knowledge. We want people to acquire knowledge through the navigation of information,” he says.

So by navigating for information, people will automatically understand it? Is that what he’s saying? Even James Martin?

He goes on: “We are taking fundamental aspects of digital technology such as algorithms and data and applying it to food. We are putting the combined knowledge of El Bulli online where people can adapt and modify it, and draw inspiration from some of the most innovative recipes ever created.

“Technology is now helping to provide future generations of creatives with the tools that they need to be innovative. It is acting as an enabler, connector and collaborator. I believe that it will now sit at the heart of gastronomy and be a fundamental driver of innovation in the industry.

“We have journeyed part of the way to discovering the genome of cuisine. Digital technology will allow us to take the final step.”

Blimey, I’m confused already. Can’t wait for the bandwagon jumping from celebrity chefs and other culinary media whores if Bullshitpedia does become a success. Gregg Wallace leering at MasterChef contestants while tapping his Rolex: “Now, how you doing your nanobytes?”

We’ve had local, seasonal, molecular gastronomy, small plates, big plates, sharing plates, heritage meats, foam, ingredient reversals, deconstruction, sous vide, freshly-foraged weeds, cup cakes, and now this - digital gastronomy.

Hasn’t cooking suffered enough already? Perhaps Adria should stick to advertising Pepsi? That’s an organisation that breeds innovation through collaboration and creative auditing by tracking the developments and inventions of other companies.