By now, I’m sure, many of you have read the witty yet scathing New York Times review of TV personality Guy Fieri’s new restaurant in Times Square. If you haven’t, here’s the review, and here’s Fieri’s response on Today.
What caught my eye though, was this blog post from Willy Staley, a former waiter who’s been there when they recognize a Times critic walking in the door. As you might expect, Staley says managers, chefs and waitstaff go berserk. But there’s more:
I’d like to point out the quieter classism that is inherent to the restaurant review: that very dispensable service employees are outed for minor errors by critics whose audience consists of those who can afford to eat at these places.
You must pretend that you think you’re off-record — or more precisely, not even near a journalist at all — even when you know that all your actions are on-record. The chef gets a phone call with the critic, for fact-checking purposes. The waitstaff certainly doesn’t. Not that they should. And I have no suggestions for making this system better.
But having been on the raw end of this deal, and having done some reporting myself (where I have held back on details that were immaterial to the story, but would have put people in trouble at work), I can’t help but wonder about the ethical issues, even if they’re relatively minor.
Chew on that for awhile.