EATING THEIR CAKE: As food bloggers increasingly break news and help determine fates in the ultracompetitive restaurant world, they're starting to be subject to some of the same scrutiny as traditional media. Panelists at Gourmet Magazine's fifth annual Gourmet Institute panel "Eat the Web: Blogging's Effect on the Food World," weren't afraid to take shots at each other, either, even if there was a spirit of uneasy camaraderie. Ben Leventhal's Eater.com, a Gawker-esque blog on restaurant gossip and news, "pursues restaurants in a way lawyers used to chase ambulances," said Ed Levine of Serious Eats. On Eater, chefs can find out they're fired even before their bosses tell them. (Leventhal was on the panel and said he had simply taken advantage of how fast things move on the Web.)
Several panelists questioned the ethics of former Restaurant Girl blogger Danyelle Freeman, now the New York Daily News' food critic, who is both recognizable and said to have accepted free meals. But Levine argued this was no different from the past: "For 50 or more years, food writers have been feeding at the freebie trough, including the biggest names — none at Gourmet or Condé Nast [Publications], of course," he added, laughing." I've even had a free recession special at Gray's Papaya....This didn't start with the blogosphere."
Moderator and Gourmet editor in chief Ruth Reichl said the panelists were "all doing something newspapers used to do, or should be doing." Of food criticism in general, she said, "We're virtually living in the middle of a revolution." But that doesn't mean food bloggers are turning up their noses at mainstream media jobs. When asked if blogging is a viable employment choice, Tyler Colman of DrVino.com replied, "I find that there's very little money to be made in blogging," and clarified that he really is a doctor and does not just "play one" on the Web. Said Levine, "You have to have the intent of global domination or the investors won't give you money."
— Jacinta Green
TOO CHEAP TO BUY IT: Men like a good eye cream or a little Crème de la Mer as much as women — they just don't want to buy them, instead preferring to steal their wives' products. Or so claims Men's Vogue, which in an article in the November issue hitting newsstands today (with Denzel Washington on the cover), has men talking to Amanda Brooks, perhaps at the impending ridicule of their colleagues, about their primping habits. For example, Frédéric Fekkai admits to using his wife Shirin von Wulffen's glossing cream, which just so happens to be from his own line. So why use a product he specifically designed for his female clients? "I like to get the same movement and shine," he explains. "It's far better than having it be dull and stiff." Hopefully, he isn't referring to his own men's line, which includes hair gel and grooming clay. And presumably he can get the glossing cream for free.