It's not really my style to write lengthy Facebook posts, but this issue hits pretty close to home, and I feel that I have a responsibility as an aspiring chef to talk about this.
The way our generation approaches food is extremely unique. Singaporean Millennials are blessed with both the vibrant food scene and the relevant know-how behind technology to experience food in a multi-sensory manner. Eating now goes beyond plainly a physical act. Our actions of documenting food with Instagram photos, Snapchat videos, and massive bouts of online sharing are different approaches of how we come to appreciate what's on the table in front of us.
Especially so in the local context, the rise of food bloggers is extremely influential in shaping our opinions about food in Singapore. Personally, I am extremely reliant on websites such as Burpple or Daniel Food Diary in sourcing for my next meal to be conquered. I believe that food blogging and sharing of new food trends on social media all contribute to keeping this industry on its toes. From the consumers' perspective, we get the chance to see what we can get before physically going down to the restaurant ourselves. From the perspective of someone who has officially joined this industry shortly over a year ago, it helps concentrate our passion. It provides a constant barrage of information readily available to perhaps the next 14 year old, baking for the first time and not knowing that such information is going to inspire him to become a pastry chef in the future.
The power of food blogging should thus never be underestimated. And it pains me when I see food bloggers abusing this power that they wield, not just with their opinions about the meal that they had, but their choice of words while sharing in a manner that degrades the whole experience of approaching food outside of the physical realm.
I came across this post by Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow, and I thought that the review came across a little strong with regards to the tone used (i.e. 'WTF, 'so f up', etc). I understand that the site regards honesty as one of its top priorities, but honestly? There are more professional ways in giving a bad review.
1. 'The lemon curd tasted as though there were too much gelatine used, resulting in a gummy texture.'
2. 'The sweetness level of the chocolate tart was contradictory to its name, which clearly stated that dark chocolate was used. The difference in sweetness level experienced was hence jarring.'
I believe that with a follower count of 20.3k, Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow has a responsibility in the reviews that they post. I respect how they insist on posting honest feedback with regards to the food that they have eaten, but there is a line distinguishing feedback and pure shaming of the brand. The danger of the Internet is that we, as users, always assume that we can post whatever we want because of our freedom of speech. In this case, the choice of words is questionable when sharing about the textures or flavours of a dessert. Having professionalism (which is different from being a professional) in the delivery of your message is not a responsibility per se, but expected of a food blogger as reputable as Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow. Readers may demand credibility, but those who have been in this game for this long should know of the power behind their choice of words used.
Food blogging has the ability to motivate chefs and restaurant owners to improve on their art. But it is a tool that should not be abused. As I've said, this is just my 'two cents'. I look forward to hearing your views.
(Disclaimer: I would like to clarify that I did use to work for Tiong Bahru Bakery, and that I am not speaking up for the quality of the respective pastries mentioned in this post as I have not tried them for a really long time.)