There’s one thing Heston Blumenthal isn’t a fan of his diners doing: taking photos of their food before eating it. Why? Because their dish goes cold.
The celebrity chef said he’s debated for several years now whether to intervene when diners at his triple Michelin-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck, photograph their dinner as soon as it’s served.
“If we say to people, ‘Your food’s going cold’, you put up a barrier between you and the diner,” he told the Radio Times.
“I’ve been very tempted [to tell people not to use their phones]. We did it once in Australia because somebody was taking pictures with a flash, which affected other tables. It’s a really tricky thing.”
The chef said social media has become such a big part of our lives, to the point where “our sight has become almost the more important sense rather than smell or taste”.
He added that if he sees something beautiful like a sunset, he tries to be in the moment – and then takes a picture afterwards.
Blumenthal isn’t the only one frustrated about our phone obsession, it would seem. Last year, the Samuel Smith pub chain took a stance against devices by banning them altogether in all 300 of their pubs.
Customers wishing to check their phones must go outside to use them, notices in the pub read, in the same way as is required with smoking. And the rule is enforced by staff, too.
Sally Lait, a senior engineering manager at Monzo, recently recounted how she was in one of the pubs with a group of friends, talking and playing board games. At certain points, various people checked their phones and, when they did, they were approached by staff and reportedly told to stop or leave.
“Fair enough, most of our usage wasn’t needed,” Lait wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread. “But what about situations where a device is genuinely essential for someone? Helping to independently read a menu if visually impaired? Quickly reading and writing to communicate if hearing is difficult?”
Explaining the reasoning for the policy, Humphrey Smith, owner of the brewery, reportedly wrote in a memo sent to managers in 2019: “The brewery’s policy is that our pubs are for social conversation, person to person.”
New parents are also being guilt-tripped into stepping away from their devices in some hospitals. Another photo of a poster did the rounds on Twitter – “Mummy & Daddy,” it read. “Please look at ME when I am feeding, I am much more interesting than your phone. Thank you.”
According to the tweet, the poster was situated in a special care birth unit, where they look after newborns with life-threatening conditions. HuffPost UK columnist, Robyn Wilder, branded it “parent shaming” and pointed out that sometimes babies feed for a very long time, “at which point the novelty wears off and you start wondering what’s happening on Instagram”.
She added: “Your phone can be your lifeline when you’re a parent – and an anchor to the world.”