Not long ago, Quebec anti-poverty charity La Grande Guignolée des Médias threw a special dinner for Montreal’s food blogging scene to support their cause and presumably, garner some press for their holiday season food drive, which aims to ensure that Quebecers in poverty don’t go hungry. Self described “culinary anarchist” Bob Le Chef hosted the evening and served up an example of what people living below the poverty line might eat for a meal — canned Campbell’s soup and plain penne, seasoned with only pepper and oil. But the stunt did result in a fun video from La Grande Guignolée, featuring self-professed #foodies attempting to enjoy what was an inoffensive but plain meal.
It was what media literate folk might call a light-hearted stunt — but not all among the bloggerati were amused. In an article published after the dinner on culture and nightlife website Day Jobs/Nightlife, writer David Major-Lapierre (who isn’t a food blogger, but has a food blogging partner and professes to run in such circles) complained in the post about the horrendous treatment at the hands of La Grande Guignolée. The short version is that Major-Lapierre is suggesting that the charity needs to focus more on treating food bloggers well.
The article was taken down sometime on Wednesday morning, but lives on (for now) through Google’s cache. In it, Major-Lapierre suggests that the canned soup, which was served first, was amusing, before going on to decry the plain penne dish as “des pâtes à rien” (“nothing pasta”) and to take down a charity for daring to not shovel buckets of caviar and foie gras at the bloggers.
A noble intention, he writes, but says it wasn’t appropriate to use the bloggers as guinea pigs, and it wasn’t the right setting.
Major-Lapierre then goes on to explain why food bloggers should be treated well at all costs. It’s not entirely about the Grignolée dinner — he laments events where bloggers have to share one serve of a dish, only after everyone has a chance to photograph it, and describes cocktail-style events where there aren’t enough hors d’œuvres to go around. But don’t forget: food bloggers in the city have historically been paid to eat full meals.
Major-Lapierre says it’s not uncommon for bloggers to arrange their weeks around these kind of free food events — most food bloggers have to work day jobs, so they arrange their evenings so as to simultaneously eat while doing their blog work.
“It’s become a bit of a running gag, but it’s nothing funny. We try to laugh about it instead of crying,” he writes [translated from French]. Bloggers often spend a few hours at an event, eating just a few bites, then to have to go home and write about it hungry, Major-Lapierre points out. Of course, it should be noted that restaurants or bars are often written up by bloggers in exchange for attending such an event. Naturally, the bloggers are also free to cover restaurants or organizations without attending events.
Major-Lapierre’s conclusions about the Grignolée dinner were that food bloggers were an easier target, as compared to established personalities. He says because they do it so tough in the name of bringing food news to Montrealers, it was a cheap shot on the part of the charity. And there’s this pearl:
“I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of hundreds of thousands of Quebecers in poverty, but bloggers don’t always have it easy.”
Day Jobs/Nightlife, who ran Major-Lapierre’s piece, purports to feature articles “about cool people and hot places”, however, some pockets of the internet did not think this was very chill.
He actually took it off his blog. Not even man enough to assume. To bad that people like him give a bad name for the rest. https://t.co/Jz3YTuewmC— Bob le Chef (@BobleChef) December 14, 2016
La Guignolée did get some positive coverage from Day Jobs/Nightlife: the point of the event wasn’t lost on the site’s main writer Blair Dohey, who wrote up a more positive post in English. The site also supported the organization on Instagram.
Today many people across our city and the province will go hungry. Please take time to give what you can when you see the media on the streets today for @grandeguignolee or drop by your local grocery store and donate some non perishable good items. It could make a big difference in someone's day and that someone could be closer than you think. #lagrandeguignoleedesmedias #charity #fooddrive #montreal #mtl #yul #djnl #514 #igersmtl #igersmontreal #igersquebec #igerscanada #media