Singapore Food Blogger Demanding Free Meal

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Updates! Ladyironchef has come out with his side of the story. Check link at the end of the post. One thing though, why was his blog ‘suspended’ prior to this? And why was he ‘uncontactable’ before this? It just goes to make me wonder, is this a publicity gimmick?

For those of you who are still in the unknown, this news came up yesterday regarding a Singaporean food blogger who created havoc in the online community for what he did in an upscale restaurant in Singapore. The following article was copied from Yahoo Singapore Fit To Post website.

Food blogger who demands free meal sparks outrage online


By yahoosingapore – August 23rd, 2010

The main dining room of upscale eatery Private Affairs at Joo Chiat.

A young food blogger who demanded that he and his three companions be given free meals at an upscale restaurant in the Joo Chiat area has sparked a huge furore online.

The group of four had walked into Private Affairs, a small but exclusive eatery in Joo Chiat, for its Sunday champagne brunch promotion that costs S$68++ per person.

The blogger in question, Brad Lau, who runs a food blog called ladyironchef, had informed the management on Friday that he would be coming down to review the Sunday Brunch promotion.

On the day itself, he and his partner came down at about 130pm, followed by his two other companions, each of whom came down half an hour apart.

According to Private Affairs’ operations director Ross Valentine, the four of them had brunch until 430pm, even when the restaurant’s official brunch hours was from 1130 am to 330pm. Brad and his partner also enjoyed two glasses of champagne each.

When presented with the final bill of $435, the blogger initially refused to pay and repeatedly told the restaurant’s chef, “I never pay for food in any restaurant.”

The restaurant eventually offered to waive off the cost of the meal for him and his partner as well as the cost of the champagne out of goodwill, thus lowering the bill to $159.

Still upset but finally relenting to pay, the blogger then threw his credit card onto the bar counter in front of the cashier before storming out.

The main entrance and cashier area of upscale eatery Private Affairs.

The main entrance and cashier area of upscale eatery Private Affairs.

Valentine told Yahoo! Singapore, ”This blogger looked very aggressive and was quite arrogant. The fact that he also walked in with his friends at staggered timings created quite a bit of problems for my chef de cuisine, who has to prepare and present his food at just the right times.”

“We decided to waive off the meal and champagne cost for him and his partner out of goodwill. But when we asked him when the review of the meal would be coming out, he said he was not obliged to write anything if the food wasn’t good enough,” he added.

Yahoo! Singapore emailed Brad Lau for his reaction but he has yet to a reply.

The incident, however, has enraged the local food blogging community.

Glenn Lee, who runs popular food blog Hungryepicurean.com since late last year, posted an open letter criticising the blogger’s behaviour for “tarnishing the good name of the community.”

Lee, 22, told Yahoo! Singapore, “We are food bloggers and I’m pretty sure the intentions of all of us in the community is to share the love that we have for food and writing.”

“But what this certain blogger has done is highly detrimental to the integrity of the community as a whole and I felt the need to stand up for what I strongly believe in,” he said.

Kaelyn Ong, 22, who posted an entry entitled ”STOP asking for free food” on her food blog, My Food Sirens II, also expressed her disgust.

“I’m surprised. It’s beyond my understanding how someone can actually request for a free meal on the house just because he’s a food blogger,” she told Yahoo! Singapore.

“Anyone can be a food blogger these days, all it takes is a camera and a blog… does that mean restaurants have to sponsor everyone for their meals?” she added.

She also apologised to restaurants on behalf of the food blogging community and said ”not all of us are such bad eggs”.

Cheryl Chia, who has a food and baking blog, cocoabutterscotch, was also appalled.

“I find it shameful. Demanding for free food on account of your supposed “status” as a person who blogs about food is not acceptable,” the 26-year-old said.

Renowned food expert KF Seetoh, who runs the popular makansutra.com, said the blogger in question lost his integrity by refusing to pay.

“The best position is to be invisible, pay for your own food. When you pay for your own food, you don’t take any prisoners when you write,” he said.

But what if the restaurant offers to give bloggers a free meal?

“Then I won’t write about your restaurant. Even if they offer me 50% off the total bill, and if I write about it, they will take my review with a 50% pinch of salt. Some of them, after eating, they call the chef out and ask him to change this and that on the menu. Some would then say, let me do a consultancy role for you. You do what I say and I write nice things.

“My stand is, be neutral. I pay, I say and then I rate,” he concluded.

**Since this post was first published at close to 130pm, Brad Lau’s blog, ladyironchef, has been suspended. Attempts to contact the blogger have still proven unsuccessful.

Food blog, ladyironchef, has temporarily been suspended.

Food blog, ladyironchef, has temporarily been suspended.

I have to say that as a fellow blogger who also blogs about food, I’m somewhat disturbed with the actions of said blogger Brad (if it’s true). It’s bad enough that he demanded for free food when the restaurant was not offering it, but getting his friends along for a free ride? That’s just outright rude.

My take on this issue:

  1. Food bloggers who pay a visit to a restaurant without invitation should pay for their own food. In fact, they should not make their identity known to get a fair and honest review of the restaurant just like any normal customers.
  2. In the case of restaurants offering free food to bloggers, I believe that bloggers in question are actually doing their part in helping to promote the restaurants in getting recognition and potential customers. True enough, some people might question the credibility of the review if the food is free, but it really depends on the readers to believe the blogger or not. I mean, how many times can a blogger ‘lie’ to the readers? Once? Twice? If the readers find that they keep getting dishonest reviews from a certain blogger, I’m sure they would be smart enough to look for other source of information which are more accurate. So, really, it’s up to the readers to judge.
  3. Last but not least, food bloggers are only human. As a human, if I receive a deed of goodwill from another party (in this case, a free meal), I would feel obliged to review the restaurant. But if the food was not up to par, I’d very much be willing to pay for my own food so that I can choose not to review a restaurant without feeling guilty. This way, the restaurant won’t think that I owe them something, and I won’t feel bad about not reviewing it.

Oh well, after all, one can still say that we’re only hearing one side of the story. Well, until this Brad fella comes out with his side of the story, I guess the community at large will just be enraged by his behaviour and arrogance.

*UPDATED: Ladyironchef has indeed come up with his side of the story here.

What is your take?

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Comments

  1. says

    really spoil the name of food bloggers only!!

    first thing, the restaurant never invite him for any food review, so they are not obliged to let him eat free.. secondly, now everybody blogs about food, who cares if you are a genuine blogger?? thirdly, if the food is great, they are not afraid of intentional defamation right??

  2. Mei Teng says

    Read ladyironchef’s clarification on his blog. I think it’s always good that people work on the basis of confirmation rather than assumptions. Confirm with the restaurants where it will be a free meal or one will be required to pay.

  3. says

    We do not have just invites here – we go and eat and pay and we tell the truth – good or bad. But then of course, one man’s meat is another man’s poison…so what’s good for me may not be good for you. It’s up to readers to taste for themselves and make up their own minds.

    Besides, for such invites, they may do their best for you for just that one time to promote their business…but ordinarily, it may be a different story. Like “food tasting” for banquets at big hotels/restaurants – so very nice…but on the actual night, the food may be quite disappointing.

    Personally, if I were invited, all paid for, I think I would no longer be that objective. Wouldn’t feel nice to “bite the hand that feeds you” regardless what they say about freedom of speech and all that…and at best, I would only hint at “what may need improvement”…very subtly.

  4. says

    I really don’t know who to believe. Maybe the restaurant should clarify this as well. In my opinion, food bloggers should pay for the food and should not reveal that they are food bloggers for an honest review.

  5. brat low says

    His latest blog post is full of controversy. Here are the hidden facts:
    (1) At no point did the PR person offered to waive the fee for all 4 people
    (2) He has been reminded that it’s only free for (+1)
    (3) Doesn’t change the fact he overshot the buffet timings till 4.30pm
    (4) He ASSUMED that he will get everything for free from his email correspondence and sms, such is his arrogance
    (5) If he was receptive to the fact that only 1 person will be free, why did he throw his Credit Card while paying? His anger stems from his arrogance that he should get everything for free.
    His blog post is just to tone down and make him seem like the victim, when he, in his sheer arrogance, has assumed he will get the meal for free entirely for 4 people.
    As to his word on never having said “I never pay for food at any restaurant”, it’s doubtful coming from him, given that he was angry enough (admittedly) to throw his credit card and being rude to the staff.
    It’s the case of a wimp now pissing in his pants now that this has blown up, and trying to do damage control.

  6. Christine Tham says

    I think restaurants should not offer free food just to get good review, and eventually will lead to abuse. From foodblogs that I have read, some of the “popular” blogs seem to be getting free food or travels frequently. One with foodblog should write with a conscience and at your own interest and great love for food. With free handouts you will feel obligated to give a certain percentage of good review, even though with no obligation.

    If your intention of writing foodblog is to get free meals and freebies, it defeats the whole purpose.

  7. wtf says

    How does xixue even know what happened when she was not even there to witness the event herself?

    I call bullshit.

  8. Food Flunky says

    I manage fine dining restaurants in the F&B industry, and im just disgusted by the way the way Private Affairs handled the situation.

    Being in the service industry im sure that they deal with difficult customers all the time, and there are no shortage of people out there who go out to eat, fully intending to complain about something to get a discount. Regardless, you dont hear stories like that coming up in the news all the time.

    But odd that when publicity was involved, they seemed very happy to do a full “expose”. If they were at all professional about it, they would have refused to comment, because who wants to go to a restaurant where all your foibles are disclosed to the public. The name Private Affairs seems ironic.

    This in no way condones the behavior of the blogger in question. But after seeing both his comments, the articles, and the press release from the restaurant, i know who im more disgusted by. Private Affairs has definitely won the rare and hard to achieve Black List Award.

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