We sat down with Anthony Bourdain of “Parts Unknown” and Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese to discuss Bourdain’s new film, “Wasted!” and the ever-changing food landscape. Here, these culinary savants break down the problem with the restaurant-rating app Yelp and explain why Twitter and Instagram work so much better.
We reached out to Yelp for comment. Below is a statement from Darnell Holloway, Yelp’s Director of Business Outreach: Millions of people find restaurants on Yelp every day. Over the last 4 years, we’ve made strides to become not just a tool for restaurants to get exposure, but a tool to help them be more successful businesses … It’s also worth noting that most reviews on Yelp are not negative. Overwhelmingly, most people come to Yelp to share neutral to positive experiences. At the end of the day, Yelp provides a two-way platform for consumers to discover restaurants and share their experiences while chefs/restaurant owners can respond to their customers and use the platform to be more successful.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Anthony Bourdain: There’s really no worse, or lower human being than an elite Yelper. They’re universally loathed by chefs everywhere. They are the very picture of entitled, negative energy. They’re bad for chefs, they’re bad for restaurants. You know, you open a restaurant, you struggle for a year to put together the money, you work your heart out, and then 10 minutes after opening, some miserable b—— is tweeting or Yelping, “Worst. Dinner. Ever.”
It’s like, dude. That ain’t right. Nah, no sympathy there. And I think you’d have a very hard time finding a chef who has anything nice to say about elite Yelpers. It’s a contradiction of terms. It’s like jumbo shrimp. How can you be elite and a Yelper?
I’m perfectly happy with Instagram and Twitter as a fully democratic bathroom wall that anyone can write on. And they do. It’s up to us to translate what we — to winnow out useful information that we might use in a sensible way from this seemingly chaotic yet democratic scrawl put up by many different people with many different points of view. I think increasingly, that’s the way we’re gonna have to get — it’s already the way we get our information, it’s already how we get our news. Why not make decisions about restaurants the same way? I think that’s inevitable. This is the new world we have to live in, all of us.
Danny Bowien: I feel like that people refer to Instagram for food information as much as, if not more than Yelp now because it’s just so accessible. It’s so instant. I remember coming up as a cook, I used to have to go buy a cookbook if I wanted to know what a chef was doing. I couldn’t just pull up my phone and see it instantly. And I think that was like a lot of what inspired me to do what I do, to make Chinese food and do Mission, it’s because there was this mystery around it. But no, now it’s all gone — Instagram’s got it.
Bourdain: It’s so powerful and so weird. One of the things I’ve found is that, if I put up an Instagram photo, of just like, just hypothetically, me and the Dalai Lama and Keith Richards in a hot tub, smoking a bong, I’ll get 5,000 likes in an hour. If I put up, and I have done this, I put up just a picture of an In-N-Out burger sitting on a table in isolation in an anonymous room, I’ll get 50,000 passionate likes and comments in like 10 minutes. It’s incredible, because people relate to certain foods and feel strongly about them. And they either want to share them on Instagram, or make other people feel bad about what they’re eating by showing them, “Hey, I’m eating a Katz’s pastrami sandwich, what’re you eating? I hope it’s nowhere near as good.”
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