Should “amateur” food bloggers be paid to develop recipes?

Cash in frying pan
In an opinion column called “Faking It” at the IACP* site, Amy Reiley has stirred up quite a hornet’s nest. Apparently she was unaware until the last IACP conference that, “major as well as small, well-respected organizations in the culinary business (like Kraft, the Got Milk? campaign, Kitchenaid, etc.) are contacting high profile food and lifestyle bloggers to endorse products, create recipes, photograph dishes made with the company’s products, and conduct giveaways for reasonably substantial financial gain.”

To say she was appalled is almost an understatement. Upon discovering that the bloggers are paid $500 – not enough to adequately develop and test a recipe in a fashion she approves of – she writes, “
It shocks me that some of our industry’s biggest and brightest companies are willing to farm out this kind of work to home cooks, whose skill in recipe development and writing haven’t been proven – and, at least in the case of the examples discussed at the seminar, without any control over how well the recipes have been tested. The bloggers are, essentially, faking it. And then marketers are sharing these recipes with the public – and paying hobby cooks for the kind of skilled work most of us have spent a career developing.”

Needless to say, this is not going over well with many readers who are roaring back. “You are venting (in an unkind way) against a make-believe enemy,” is one of the milder comments.

The common ground appears to be that times are changing and professionals must change with it. We’d be very interested in hearing your opinions – do you think that paid recipe contributors should be held to a high professional standard and is this, as Reiley says, “a general ‘dumbing down’ of the culinary profession?” And, if so, what should that standard be?

*International Association of Culinary Professionals  

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  •  on  May 17, 2012

    I don't know who Amy Reiley is (is she famous in America?) but it sounds like she needs to get over herself a little bit.

    I could understand her being appalled if the bloggers were doing the work for free but they are being paid. They're also unlikely to be taking work away from professionals. These days a brand needs to have a multi pronged marketing strategy and embracing 'new media' such as bloggers is (or at least should be) an integral part of that.

    I totally agree with the 'make believe enemy' comment – sums it up perfectly.

  • veronicafrance  on  May 19, 2012

    I think she needs to get over herself too. Somehow the human race survived for millennia without professional recipe testers. People shared recipes they liked without first doing extensive testing.

    If you try a recipe from a blog or a magazine, and it doesn't quite work, nobody dies. Dinner just won't be quite as good as you hoped. In 40 years of cooking, I can only remember about three occasions when I've actually binned something as inedible (the most recent was the Swiss chard tourte from HFW's Veg Every Day, which probably was professionally tested!).

  •  on  May 21, 2012

    I take issue with bloggers who don't disclose that they are being paid by a manufacturer or distributor to include a branded product in a post.
    But when it comes to bloggers' recipes – for me they're better than books, because there are usually helpful comments posted by other readers who have made the dish.

  • wendytruth  on  May 24, 2012

    Many bloggers, while they start their blogs because they are passionate, are looking to translate that blog into a money making proposition. I am not at all offended if a blogger is paid as long as it is disclosed in the blog post. At home cooks use the preponderance of the items in question so it is only rationale that they test the products.

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