Bloggerc**tgate has gotten out of hand – both sides need to man up.
If you keep track of the navel-gazing nature of the London restaurant scene, then you’ll no doubt have heard about the feud between Hibiscus chef Claude Bosi and restaurant blogger James Isherwood. The Guardian has a good summary of events, but in short Isherwood wrote a review of a meal at Hibiscus (which appears to have been on the house, but this isn’t clear) which ended with a verdict that was less than 100% complimentary. In response Bosi called Isherwood a c**t on Twitter which then snowballed into a lot of name-calling.
There’s no question that Bosi should not have used the C-word. I have a lot of sympathy for chefs. Running a kitchen is very hard work that involves long hours as well as financial and mental stress that can often play havoc with your personal life, so facing less-than-positive reviews can be very upsetting. But that’s no excuse for using a misogynistic swear word in a medium of 140 characters which doesn’t lend itself to tone, inflection or carefully considered reactions.
If Bosi really wanted to wade in rather than leaving it to his staff, he should have invited Isherwood back for a follow-up meal or engaged in a civil dialogue either publicly or privately. If he doesn’t have good-quality PR advice on how to deal with situations like this, then he should definitely get some. If your work is public-facing, then you’ll face criticism from the press and the public including, whether you like it or not, bloggers. Deal with it, but not like this.
Isherwood isn’t completely without blame in all of this. When your writing can potentially have some sort of impact on someone else’s livelihood then you are obligated to take as much care and diligence as possible in your writing. At the risk of throwing stones while living in a greenhouse, I’m not sure how conscious Isherwood is about this. His review is almost too concise and his tone and style seem odd to my eyes and it’s hard to gauge his reactions from his Twitter feed. If he did accept a free meal on the house, then he should reconsider this policy if he’s going to continue blogging – it engenders certain expectations of a positive review from the restaurant which is one reason why I rarely accept freebies (for the record I’ve only accepted one so far in over 200 or so reviews).
For the sake of civility, both sides need to swallow their bile and publicly reconcile. This sort of expletive-filled recrimination is unbecoming for the London restaurant scene which should be about enjoying the company of others through the medium of good food. Let’s not lose sight of that.
If you agree, then I’d encourage donations to FareShare. This charity distributes food that would otherwise be thrown away to those that don’t have enough to eat. Alternatively, here are some cute fluffy kittens. Ahhh, that’s better.