But not everyone likes the idea of sending digital postcards from the table. At the Pappacarbone restaurant on Italy’s Amalfi Coast near Salerno, chef Rocco Iannone is one of a growing number of restaurateurs across Italy who is gently instituting a “no food photo” policy. His cuisine, which is creatively photogenic, “is meant to be eaten, not bastardized by a badly-lit photo.” He has been a leading activist against the food porn phenomenon in Italy, which he says is both an infringement of intellectual property and often insulting. If an amateur photographer takes a photo with a smartphone, it is rarely going to do the plate justice, he says. “I want control over my image, and if someone publicizes a smudged plate or an inaccurate portrayal, that’s like defaming my name.”
“His cuisine, which is creatively photogenic, ‘is meant to be eaten, not bastardized by a badly-lit photo.’” A select number of restaurants in France have also started banning amateur food photography. Chef Alexandre Gauthier, of La Grenouillere in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, told AFP that the experience is not only disruptive to the nearby clientele, it also takes away from the diner’s experience. “Before they used to take photos of their family, of their grandmother, but now it’s photos of dishes,” he said. “We are trying to give our clients a break in their lives. For that, you need to turn off your mobile.”
Those who write and blog about food for a living say the best policy is to ask first and don’t assume every chef will be flattered by his or her creations being labeled as food porn. Elizabeth Minchilli, a Rome-based food writer and author of the best selling apps, Eat Rome, Eat Florence, and Eat Venice, says taking photographs of every dish can be horribly annoying, which is why she always asks ahead of time before snapping. “In general, I’m with the chefs on this one,” she told The Daily Beast. “I think if you’re in their restaurant, they have the right to either grant, or deny, permission to photograph. I always ask ahead of time, just in case I’m annoying anyone else in the room. Most chefs are happy to have me photograph their dishes, but then again, I’m not an amateur and my photographs are always flattering—or else why post them in the first place?”
Just because the food looks good enough to eat on the plate doesn’t mean it will always look just as good in a picture.