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Muddywall | October 22, 2014

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The art of Instagramming food: but is the #dinnercam one step too far! -

The art of Instagramming food: but is the #dinnercam one step too far!

Everybody loves a good-looking plate of food. Back in my past when I worked as a cook in an Italian restaurant, I remember repeatedly being told that you ‘eat with your eye’. Not literally of course. But the point the Head Chef was trying to get across was that you make a judgement about the way food tastes by the way it looks.

That was all PS (Pre Social). Now the pressure for chefs to create visual masterpieces has doubled, as not only do we admire the food at our table, we take pictures of our plates to share with our friends on social networks such as Instagram.

Some chefs, mostly in France, are getting increasingly fed up with the practice and are looking for ways to ban people photographing food.

Other restaurants are brave enough to try and capitalise on the habit. The first I heard of was Comodo, a New York restaurant. They launched their Instagram menu as a way to differentiate from the 18,000 other restaurants in the city.

Whether the idea was a success is open to debate as many of the pictures posted to Instagram did not show Comodo’s food in the best light. Pictures of dog crap even appeared with the #ComodoMenu hashtag attached.

What it did do though was create massive PR for the restaurant as news of the campaign was shared around the world, thanks in part to social media making the press aware of their new ‘Instagram Menu’.

Instagram Menu Case Study – Cannes Lions 2013 from Raul Mandru on Vimeo.

Now even my local restaurant has caught on to the desire to Instagram your food. Intranet Future has made me aware of The Tivoli’s latest campaign asking diners to take a picture of their food and post it to Instagram using the hashtag #TheTivoliMenu.

The campaign has been running for over a month now and to date they have only had 10 submissions. So I wouldn’t say it is a huge success. Here is one of the photos:

Maybe if they linked the social media campaign to a competition then the the response would be better. For example, every week offer a free bottle of wine to the person who’s photo submitted with the hashtag gets the most likes. This not only incentivises diners to take part, it will encourage them to take a better quality photo to be in with a chance of winning.

That being said, even with all the filters to chose from on Instagram, taking a good photo in a restaurant is never easy. Often the lighting is fairly subdued and the in-built flash on smartphones is no help. So maybe the MWEB #dinnercam is the answer… or maybe not!

MWEB, a South African Internet service provider, have teamed up with Cape Town restaurant El Burro to introduce their #dinnercam. The portable lighting studio enables diners to take photos of their food in a perfectly lit environment. And when they post their picture using the hashtag #dinnercam, a printed photo of the creative masterpiece is delivered to their table by the waiter.

Why? I have no idea. And by the time you have gone through all the effort of taking and sharing the photo, your food will be stone cold! To be honest I think (and hope) this idea is more gimmick than serious and is linked to MWEB’s launch of their uncapped WiFi in South Africa.

Amazingly people are actually using the #dinnercam- but maybe not in the way it was intended!

So what’s your views on Instagramming food? Is it something you do? And would you consider using the #dinnercam? Let me know in the comments below.

I created the blog Muddywall to share social media trends, ideas, opinion and advice. I'm a social media specialist working with businesses, organisations and individuals to improve their social media communications. Happy to connect on any of my social media profiles.

  • Matthew

    As a guy living in Cape Town, I’d have to say that this hideous dinner cam concept has nothing to do with MWEB’s “launch” of uncapped WiFi. There’s been uncapped home WiFi here for years. Perhaps you meant the launch of their Fon WiFi service?
    Either way…I bloody hate foodie culture. Just eat your damn meal already! Hold on a second…who wants to create a ‘block my friend’s stupid food pictures’ app with me? ;-)

    • Muddywall

      Thanks for the correction @disqus_8cMCGimSHk:disqus Yes I do share your views about the #dinnercam. If I saw that in a restaurant I would have a strong desire to turn round and walk out.

      • Matthew

        I’m tempted to go to El Burrro, order a drink, and just watch who actually uses this insane device.

        • Muddywall

          If you do then take some pics. Interested to see it action too!