A lot of people ask me why I want to and need to remain anonymous. It is not out of some narcissistic, egomaniacal delusions of grandeur, I can assure you.
It is so I can experience a restaurant as it is meant to be experienced, document it and share it, in all its natural glory. A restaurant experience is never perfect – and it’s not meant to be, but that’s what makes it so great. We are dealing with humans, personalities and about a billion moving parts, most of which we have no control over. There is no way it’ll be perfect. Show me a restaurant that never makes mistakes and… well you can’t, because they don’t exist.
It’s surprising what lengths some restaurants will go to, to manipulate and control a restaurant review. They print off photos of the reviewer and stick them to the notice board, making the service staff learn those faces so they know them better than they know their loved ones. They stalk social media accounts and download photos, sharing them across WhatsApp groups and I get it, to some extent. The pressure to succeed at all costs is immense. I’ve even done some of it myself, so I know it happens.
However, without my anonymity, it’s a guarantee that restaurants will start acting unnaturally around me, the layers of forced standards and false narrative overpowering their natural beauty and suddenly, and with great sadness, the magic is lost. All my efforts to celebrate our industry are rendered lame and without purpose.
FoodSheikh started with a very clear mission and objective. To celebrate our industry, provide a voice for the restaurants that perhaps don’t have one, and to bring people and places together. It was about being sincere and honest to an important audience and never breaking that trust. It was never about money, or fame or recognition. If it were, I would have accepted the financial offers that restaurant groups promised me, in return for a few hundred words on my website. Instead, I answered back with my #noreceiptnoreview initiative, posting my receipt with every review. I could have taken up the radio spot offers and the panel talk requests, but instead, I started increasing the type of stories I wanted to tell, across all my platforms.
The FoodSheikh voice has always been honest, unfiltered and unbiased. That’s why the FoodSheikh voice has always been anonymous. To allow the industry to sing, in all its imperfect glory.