Steve Plotnicki Expounds Upon Food Blogger Antipathy


Opinionated About Dining‘s Steven Plotnicki was “quite happy” to appear on last week’s “Obsessed” episode of No Reservations. But not happy enough to refrain from taking to his blog to rant about it.

In the episode, which showcased “some of the biggest obsessed personalities in the food world,” Anthony Bourdain interviewed Jason Perlow, Steven Shaw, and Plotnicki, who ran eGullet together until they separated under somewhat grumpy circumstances. Bourdain gave them some flack about turning what was once a fun and somewhat innocuous pastime into a “hotbed of hostility.”

So Plotnicki has decided to give it right back to Bourdain, writing that “I don’t understand why Bourdain’s producers thought that portraying the people who argue about food as if they were more irrational than anyone else would make for interesting television. In fact most of the people I spoke to after the show commented on how the theme didn’t really work.” Most of his two-and-a-half-hour conversation with Bourdain and their nine-course meal at Txikito — which he says chef-owners Alex Raij and Eder Montero prepared for free — was edited out, which, well, isn’t particularly surprising, given that the episode was an hour long.

But the true failing of the episode, Plotnicki asserts, was its failure to address the real reason that food bloggers can be so damned cranky towards one another. So he provides an apt illustration, using none other than his experience at eGullet:

“While personalities, egos, beliefs and a desire to control virtual turf play a key role, what underlies most of the arguing stems from the fact that different people possess different levels of expertise, and to be brutally honest about it, some so-called experts have questionable taste. In instances where a person who controls a site needs to be perceived as an expert, they are quick to ban contributors who are prone to making them look less knowledgeable. Actually, had they dug a bit deeper and asked Shaw and Perlow (the third person in our segment) why they started eGullet in the first place, they would have found out that it was because they were thrown off Chowhound for arguing with Jim Leff, the site’s owner, because they thought Leff’s approach to discussing food was superficial.”

Aha! So perceived superiority about one’s discerning taste in all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets is to blame.

But then Plotnicki posts part of an e-mail from a friend who claims that not only does Shaw not pay for his meals, but he probably wasn’t as successful a lawyer as he claimed to be. Plus, he only spends his money at Kampuchea. “Hearing that made me laugh out loud,” Plotnicki writes.

So maybe food blogger antipathy isn’t really all about ego. Maybe it’s more about being able to spread around gossip like a junior high school girl.

[Via Grub Street]

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