Top Irish chef hits out at ‘brass neck reviewers’ demanding free meals

Michelin star Irish chef hits out at bloggers who demand a free meal in exchange for 'exposure'

An Irish chef who owns and runs a Michelin star restaurant has hit out at bloggers after finally getting fed up of requests/demands for free meals.

Bloggers will often approach a restaurant to tell them they are going to provide ‘significant online exposure’ by writing a review on their site.

While that could be great for the restaurant, the bloggers will often expect special treatment for doing something that the restaurant never actually asked for.

Michelin star Irish chef hits out at bloggers who demand a free meal in exchange for 'exposure'

That is what happened to Garrett Byrne of Campagne restaurant in Kilkenny, who received an email from a reviewer who promised him ‘significant exposure’ in exchange for free food.

The email on this occasion came from a vegan website. It read:

“We will be in Kilkenny specifically on 10 October.

“In exchange for a vegan meal for two (we would ideally like to try several items on the menu), we would be happy to provide significant online exposure on both our blogs and social media accounts:

– Inclusion in our ‘Vegan Guide to Ireland and/or N Ireland’ posts (working title) with permanent embedded links and photographs.

– In many cases we will also write a full separate review for your establishment.

– Live tweeting, Facebook, Instagram as we visit your restaurant.”

Byrne says he receives at least ten emails like this every year, and he has had enough of the cheek.

He told the Irish Independent: “They’re always for a free meal in exchange for coverage on social media – Instagram, Snapchat whatever. I just reply a firm ‘no’. I couldn’t tell you who they are, but I wouldn’t be giving them anything.

“I wouldn’t dream of approaching a supplier and saying ‘Give me some ingredients and I’ll tweet a pic of them and say they’re from you.’ I don’t see why any business should put up with this rubbish.

“Everyone has to make a living. It’s just ridiculous. The cheek of them. Maybe one out of a hundred places they approach will fall for it. They’ve got a brass neck, to put it mildly!”

He added that the bloggers were not usually even particularly prominent trendsetters and that his paying customers are at least as valuable as reviewers in terms taking photos of his meals and promoting his restaurant on social media.

He said: “If you do look into it you find (the bloggers) have very few followers. They’re just blagging a free meal. I can’t see any restaurant accepting it. Maybe there is one or two out there who possibly think it’s a good idea but not us.”

Byrne says that the ‘bloggers are often holiday makers trying to take local businesses for a free ride and it isn’t just restaurants who are approached.

He said: “I find it funny. I don’t get upset by it. But I do know that the same crowd have approached other restaurants and other companies. They’re planning their two week holiday and going around trying to get free accommodation, a free tour, free food.

“It’s brazen! But they won’t be getting anything here.”

Byrne isn’t the only business owner who has started to hit back at reviewers.

This summer the owner of the Doolin hotel had a strong but humorous response to a very harsh TripAdvisor review.

A Sligo restaurant owner maintained his Irish humour in an epic response to a bad online review.

They were followed by a holiday home owner who kept his cool in a reply to a customer who complained that Ireland wasn’t enough like Dubai.