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A chef in England has spoken out about how the reviews site Trip Advisor destroys the lives of people who work in restaurants.
Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, Norfolk-based chef Charlie Hodson, argues that the website, which allows members of the public to leave unmoderated reviews for places and attractions, including restaurants, without having to prove that they’ve visited, is “archaic and bullying.”
“What some people leave on there is killing people in the hospitality world, and that’s not a false claim,” says the chef, who’s previously opened up about battling mental ill health. “You get people who say they had a lovely meal, give you a generous tip and you go home feeling like you and your team gave an amazing service … then they annihilate you. I just don’t understand it.”
Hodson says the site was initially welcomed by the industry, but is now loathed: “Chefs can absolutely handle constructive criticism – the only way they can develop is through constructive criticism - but not through slating someone working there,” he says. “You work 120 hours a week, have your life savings invested in a place and work non-stop to make sure what you put on a plate is the best it can be, and you see personal, spiteful comments at the end of it … it destroys lives.”
Some in the industry have taken it upon themselves to fight back against what they say are false and malicious reviews, including this chef, who likes nothing more than to leave his own reviews of customers. Chef James Close of the two-Michelin-star Raby Hunt restaurant also recently laid into Trip Advisor, calling it "pathetic" and "flawed."
The problem of fake reviews is a real one of course, with users not having to provide proof of having dined at a restaurant, so much so that a court in Italy recently sent a man to prison for writing fake reviews.
From a diner's perspective however, sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp can often be a useful tool when visiting somewhere for the first time.
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