Philosophy & Ethics
Before I started this website, I thought long and hard about what I wanted it to provide, and what people might truly want in exchange for their time when they spend time with me here. It had to be real. It had to be relevant. It had to be reliable, and as I disdain giving anyone my time or attention only to find they are dishonest… it had to have integrity.
Integrity. Now that’s an interesting word.
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.
[Reference: www.dictionary.com. Retrieved 20 May 2012]
It is important for me to know that my readers understand how difficult it is to write a review on an establishment and a service. Both are very subjective experiences and they are not timeless. They do not float on a unlimited paradigm of what is real for everyone. They are experiences that happen once on a continuum of experience that is both ever-changing and more importantly, experienced and perceived by others.
I know that the public trust me, and respect my view, which is why I write. But I want to be very transparent with you so that you understand that what I think, and how I feel and what my tastebuds interpret are my thoughts, my experiences and essentially, my judgements on the outside world.
We all need to respect that because a review from a public figure is highly revered, there is a weighty moral and ethical responsibility imposed on the writer (myself) to acknowledge that this is oftentimes going to impact someone’s livelihood. Often times, it’s far more than one. A positive review may instigate a flooding of business which an outlet might not be prepared for, and a less favourable review may negatively impact a proprietor’s income which is never desirable.
So, we must act responsibly. Both myself, the writer, and my readers. Here are some guidelines I follow. I am not restricted to only these, as morality is a moving object that can only be ethically approached in context. But- it’s a guide to follow.
Everything is experienced in context. Nothing lives in a bubble. This means that a café will be reviewed, comparable to other cafés offering a similar product, within a similar price range within a similar area (overheads are expensive people, and it affects prices ). Comparing apples to apples, is the same approach to a review, that I take on for all my reviews. This keeps the food snob inside every critic, at bay!
I am a food snob. I worked hard to earn those stripes. It is the food snob deep inside me that wants everyone to eat like a Masterchef. Every day.
…But you know what? We can’t all, or we don’t all want to pay for it, every time we eat out. Sometimes, we just want to eat, or sometimes we want to eat well without the frills and linen, and sometimes we actually do want the bangs and whistles. With this in mind, it’s in my moral and ethical code to not be publicly unimpressed by a $4 burger at a local ‘hole-in-the-wall’…having expectations of a burger coming from a 3 Hat restaurant. Aside from finding a 3 hat restaurant to make you a burger being a little bit tricky in the first place, it’s simply unfair to the poor $4 burger, who is just being a $4 burger. More importantly, it can be crippling to the vendor (restaurateur etc) who is trying to make a living on a low-priced or fixed price product. Same applies on the other end of the spectrum. This is what I call ‘a responsible review’. One which is fair to the readers, and fair to the business owners.
A producer once told me that I use the word ‘integrity’ a lot. I had to stop and think about that one (of course I had to…I have a psych background!) I accepted this comment as true, and decided to understand why this was so.
I actually hold integrity as the highest value. For me, it covets all other values and so it has many requirements to live a life with it. But I read a quote once that described having it, succinctly.
“Integrity is doing the right thing, when no one is watching”. J.C.Watts
It’s making the right decision even when you have a right to do it a different way.
“The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right”. William Safire
For me this means acting with good intention- always. We are not perfect people, we make mistakes. Everything we say and do has an effect on someone else, a society, or the world. We all need to act responsibly, making sometimes difficult decisions guided only by loving intentions. We might not be 100% perfect at it, and that’s ok, but
“Integrity is not a 90 percent thing, not a 95 percent thing; either you have it or you don’t.” Peter Scotese
It’s a beautiful freedom to try and live this way. It keeps our minds clean and our hearts happy. When we’re happy, good things happen
Don’t you think there’s nothing more disappointing than believing in someone, and then being told you weren’t given all the facts? Perhaps being told those few extra details, you wouldn’t have invested your time, money, energy or thoughts into something or someone…or you may have made a different decision; right? Transparency for me, makes things clear, mutually fair and equitable, and shows respect for other people’s time and intelligence. With this in mind,
- Any review or comment I make here will be transparent. If there is a relationship between me and a vendor, restaurateur, publisher or promoter of a reviewed product or service, creating a conflict of interest, then that relationship will be disclosed to the reader. I think that’s fair.
- If I have been contracted to perform a review, then that will be disclosed. A paid review requires that certain elements are reviewed that are not necessarily chosen by myself. In this case, the requested aspect will be reviewed and published in my own words as experienced by myself. I do not publish comments and opinions that are not mine (unless quoted or referenced!) and I will never be paid to say something that I don’t believe in myself.
Photography is fun and exciting and it makes us want to EAT! But the use of photography in food establishments can sometimes upset their patrons and owners. In this media and technological age, this is a tricky one. Whilst it’s fast becoming socially acceptable to take photos of anything, is it really the right thing to do?
I have a view on this. It’s not the right view, or the wrong view, it’s just my view.
In a situation where I might do a review, I will usually only begin taking photos when I have genuinely begun engaging in the process of buying a meal experience. That means it is my intention to enter a premise to invest money in purchasing a product or products to consume and enjoy. In terms of photographing food, if I have ordered the food, and it belongs to me (i.e. my intention is to eat it, not waste it, and then to pay for it) and it ticks other moral/ethics boxes I may have, then taking the photo for me, is reasonable. As a guideline, the food belongs to me. It is mine, just like anything else I might like to photograph.
However, that decision may change if the impact it has on others outweighs the purpose of taking the photograph. In this case, I might not take that photograph after all. I work on a case by case basis. My general philosophy is based on trust and respect. If I am to blog about food, then I have to respect the establishment and respect the people behind the food, and acknowledge that it can be quite intimidating having someone enter your restaurant and judge your food or services and advertise your opinion so publicly, especially in such a competitive industry when bloggers sometimes post their images and opinions when both have used compromised lighting.
Now I’m not a professional photographer… and I’m hardly a food guru; the views and opinion expressed here are purely just my own. I do empathize with restaurateurs though because in their chef shoes, I’d argue that the world at large is not their client…only the person right there, in the restaurant, on the day, paying for the food, is-and if they are happy, then fabulous. They will return. If the customer has a concern, then a restaurant would usually very much appreciate the opportunity to make it good. Usually. Of course we know this is not always the case, just as we know that customers usually don’t keep their own bad reviews to themselves. Word of mouth accounts for a lot and once a customer has left a restaurant and taken their ‘bad feelings’ with them…a restaurateur will rarely have the opportunity to stop that increasingly damaging rolling ball of critical fire from affecting its future goodwill.
This is why I stress two things. One is that whilst I feel that everyone is entitled to a mindful view, not everyone is always entitled to publicise it. I will always work within the paradigms of my own values as mentioned here, as I will always give a café, restaurant or service provider the opportunity to provide a professional response to a review that is posted here. I really feel it’s important for readers to know that restaurateurs take feedback seriously, and that they are often willing to make changes, when they feel it is necessary. Allowing them this shows respect and support. We support our local restaurants, because they look after us.
Likewise, restaurants are often so grateful for reviews, as it boosts their business by drawing in traffic. Who doesn’t love that! So by giving them the opportunity to respond to a review can also be giving them an opportunity to say “thanks” to you all, for supporting their business.
It’s about being respectful and transparent, and working together to make it a positive experience for everyone. I trust the people I work with because I want them to trust me, which makes my relationship with you (the readers) a genuine one, built on respect, trust and reliability.
This disclosure policy has been in effect since May 2012. This Blog is in no way associated either professionally or otherwise with any other websites, publications or people of similar name. Please note: The logo on this site, content and photography feautured on this site is either owned by Lydia Guerrini and is subject to copyright protection © or used by explicit permission by the owner. ‘Absoutely Georgeous’ and its related logo are a registered trademark 2012-2022.