Palate Pleasures – Interactive

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It is incredible how much information is at our disposal with just one click these days. No question is too obscure … “let’s Google it!” we say to each other, avoiding any sort of prolonged debate/heated discussion.

What on Earth did we do before Wikipedia? Let alone our constant companion, Siri – although she still doesn’t seem to understand my accent!

Everyone’s an expert, thanks to good old “Dr Google”. As long as we stick to a finite number of trusted sources and avoid clicking on those pages that convince us that every symptom we have is a harbinger of terminal illness …

There really is an art to sifting through the infinite span of the internet universe. There’s real knowledge to be found out there, but also equal parts spam, zealotry and complete crackpot-dom.

It is also so easy to get caught up in it all, checking out one thing and then getting distracted by something else and then something after that. Before you know it, a whole heap of time has gone by and chances are that you may very well end up way more confused than when you started.

The thing is, we can never get these hours back – and for all the extremely relevant and helpful information that is so easy to come by, there is a multitude of equally useless and completely counterproductive stuff out there too.

At the end of the day, that is just the risk we take every time we “jump” online, and unless you are super-duper disciplined and able to resist the most seductive “click bait” at your weakest moments, you are liable to sometimes fall into the black hole of wasted time.

Meanwhile, screens and Wi-Fi keep infiltrating into every arena of our lives. The number of transactions we make online is steadily growing. Even into the realm of the restaurant floor! Table tablet ordering systems, for instance, are gaining momentum in the hospitality industry for quick and seamless ordering. Advantages are, of course, being able to put an order through instantaneously, as well as getting a visual image of what you are about to purchase. Additionally for premium products, such as wines, there is far more scope for providing the required detailed information to the customer in an instant.

Well, that’s all well and good, you might say … But – shock, horror – does this mean that waiters will become redundant? As Paul Jewson of Melbourne’s Fitzrovia café says in a recent Restaurant and Catering Magazine article about the subject “… in a world that is becoming de-personalised in so many interactions, I love that the restaurant industry is almost the last bastion of that personal point of contact”.

Bang on – rest assured, we won’t be handing out iPads any time soon! There is something so special and precious about the personal interactions we have with our customers, and in the realm of à la carte dining, the service element is intrinsic to the entire experience. As previously stated more than once in this column – it is of equal importance to the food, beverage and ambience itself.

Phew – thankfully a restaurant is still a place we can go to in and order to have a break from the world of clicks and screens. An opportunity that sadly is becoming increasingly more difficult to find within a given day to connect in real time to those around us – our dining companions firstly, and then also the team of people working to provide the dining experience.

Now, just to get those phones off the table and actually talk to each other! (Guilty as charged …)

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