Sunday, March 25, 2012 The Exciting Life of a Food Blogger

Being the Headbanging Hostess has brought a great amount of joy into my life. Along with my usual dinner parties with friends I have, indeed, expanded my circle of friends over the past two years to include some of Fairfield County's finest people. I like to refer to them as Fairfield County's Heavy Metal Elite, but they're more than that. In fact, it was that fateful e-mail to Arcane Malevolence that directly led to my participation in Saturday night's bachelorette party for the future Mrs. Ax-Shredding-DeVaney.

When the bachelorette was being planned I suggested Zaza Gastrobar in downtown Stamford. Good, central location, great food - what more could you ask for? Someone in the party called a few days ahead for a reservation but they told us they didn't take reservations but we could wait at the bar if we needed to. Well, when a member of our party tried to get us a table for 8 the hostess actually said "no" and that only 4 tables for 4 were available. So we ate at Remo's. And, while my Country Salad was good, it wasn't Lobster Polenta.

I was bummed, I'll admit it. And slightly pissed that I'd made a recommendation and it had failed me. I e-mailed them the next morning and I'm happy to say they actually e-mailed me back. So they get points for that. The hostess claimed she gave us a 2.5 hour wait time (which was not the case.) They also stated they're not meant to be a restaurant for big parties. So that's that. If we had been told that when we called for the reservation we would have made other plans. Maybe this is more of a miscommunication rather than flat-out bad customer service, but according to the other Google reviews I read it seems to be a recurring problem. The food there is really good - if you get to eat it. I'll leave it at that.

This is similar to our Darien Unsocial visit. It leaves me wondering what I should or could be doing different.

It plays into a new "drama/debate" regarding us lowly food bloggers vs. the real professional food writers. Ugh. Apparently CT Magazine has an article in their April issue putting food bloggers down - we're not trained, we're not pros, blah, blah, bullshit. OmNomCT had a very well written reply. Mine may not be so nice.

First of all, get off your high horse. It's 2012 - everyone has the ability to write and self-publish anything they want to on the web. We're still (pretty much) a free country. If we suck as writers or food critics people won't read us, it's as simple as that. And training? What is that about? I've been eating for 39 years! And, yes, as a matter of fact I have worked in the industry and I do have culinary training under my belt. But - here's the kicker - before anything else I'm an entertainer. I came to this after living decades of my life upon the stage. I've written plays that have been performed across the country. Theatre, like writing, is about communication. People getting together to share a communal experience...kinda like EATING! Pardon me, my inner drama queen is coming out. No one should make sweeping generalizations about other "groups" of people, it's unfair - unless it's for comic affect, of course.

I went to a Connecticut Press Club luncheon at about a year ago about food writing. The panel was very esteemed, all from serious food publications, and they talked to us about the business. One woman, who had been a food writer for longer than most of us have been alive, went over the proper "etiquette" for food writers, which included calling ahead and letting them know you were coming, calling the chef after with questions and really trying hard not to give a negative review because people's livelihoods depended on your words. I can understand that, and you have advertisers to answer to, as well. But, for me, I think it's silly to call up a restaurant and say "Hi! I'm the Headbanging Hostess and I'm coming to your restaurant tonight." And besides the silly factor, I want to be treated as a regular customer. The only way to give an honest (yet entertaining) review is to experience it the way your reader will - as just another customer. Believe me, I've considered getting a button that says "food blogger" as well. When my table goes unnoticed for 13 minutes I feel I should have warned them as I head home to my computer. After that unsocial experience I seriously considered at least tagging Zaza and letting them know we were coming. I honestly forgot to do it, and it may not have mattered.

Once again, it's 2012. I expect restaurants to be connected. Take Station Eats. They're pretty savvy guys, they know exactly how to use social media. They always follow up a post or a tag with a thank you and they're just so nice and down to earth that you want to spend your money there. That's the mark of a fantastic business.

So, what the hell am I going on about. I don't know, at this point I've lost track of my thought process.

Things I know -

- Zaza is not for large parties.
- People always like to think they're superior to other people.
- Station Eats = Good

Things I'm not sure about -

- Calling ahead to let restaurants know the Headbanging Hostess is coming?
- If I see someone walking towards me dressed as a clown can I assume they're a clown?
- Do people take me seriously?



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