Fine dining chef sparks debate about banning kids in restaurants

  • Twitter
  • Thursday, 16 Jan 2014

TWITTER DEBATE: Should babies be banned in fine dining restaurants? — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014

The US food world is in a tizzy after a Michelin-starred chef took to Twitter to complain about a crying baby in his restaurant over the weekend, sparking a larger debate about banning babies in fine dining establishments. 

The tweet that launched the online dialogue dubbed ‘Babygate’ by pundits came from Chicago chef Grant Achatz, when he wrote: “Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no, but.." 

According to a report by Good Morning America, the couple was forced to bring their baby to his high-end, triple-Michelin-starred restaurant Alinea Saturday when their sitter canceled at the last minute. 

But what do you do when you’ve already paid up to US$265 (RM873.04) a person? 

In this case, the couple decided to bring their eight-month-old infant to one of the most expensive restaurants in the US, where, invariably, the baby broke out into fits of restless crying that could be heard all the way in the kitchen — a famously hushed and hallowed space at Alinea. 

The debate has divided the Twittersphere into several different camps: those who side with Achatz; those who sympathise with parents; and those who complain about the complaining. 

Some of the most vocal Achatz supporters? Parents. 

“Speaking as a mom and a restaurant owner I would never take an 8mo old to a restaurant like Alinea,” tweeted Sally Rich. 

Another Twitter user and mother of four adds, “I would want to experience all of Alinea without having to deal with my own child, I feel for others!” 

Dina Yuen also notes that becoming a parent comes with a set of redrawn boundaries. 

“The real issue is too many new parents refuse to make sacrifices. You can't always go to the same places when you have a baby.” 

But not everyone agrees. 

“We brought our infant to every fine dining restaurant around the world we went to. Never had a problem. Babies sleep hrs on end," wrote a Twitter mom. 

For his part, in an interview with Good Morning America, Achatz — also a parent — said he’s not against exposing children to the restaurant experience. 

“We want people to come and enjoy and experience Alinea for what it is but we also have to be cognizant of the other 80 people that come in to experience Alinea that night.” 

Meanwhile, the controversy also drew criticism from a different camp altogether, who derided the mere existence of the debate. 

“lol hilariously bourgeois debate on screaming infants and fine dining search alinea+baby right now,” tweeted Chicago-based freelance journalist Matt Kiefer. 

Added another: “I understand why this is a big deal to my foodie friends, it’s their life, but for the 99% not so much.” 

And of course, not long after the controversy erupted, the Twitterverse birthed an avatar called @Alineababy which garnered about 925 followers four days after the story broke. 

One of its followers? @Gachatz. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014 

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