I thought you might like to know a little more about how I decide who and what to include on the site. I love a professionally run slick business but I also like quirky one offs that might be part of a charity or an educational trust. You’ll find an eclectic mix here which reflects this!
Honest and Independent
My ethos is to be as transparent as possible, if you are going to trust my reviews, its only fair. I spent the first 12 years of my working life cooking and managing restaurants and delicatessens so I know what hard work it is. My time at Sainsbury’s head office writing on pack recipes and Food Product Development and teaching in higher education (food studies of course) mean I have a unique skill set. I hope my wealth of experience helps me to give a balanced and professional judgement as to whether inclusion of a business is appropriate. When I visit a venue I don’t always let the management know in advance. Unless I have been invited, by the owner or a PR company, I always pay for my food and shopping. If I am reviewing a business at the owners request I make it clear from the outset that if I don’t think its right for my readers then I wont publish. If that is the case I will feed back to them the reasons why as constructively as possible.
By the end of a visit if I will know if want to write and publish a review. If this is the case I interview the owner/manager about their provenance and ethos. This I feel gives me the edge over other review websites. This additional information my readers tell me makes my reviews more interesting. In addition I always take my own pictures so I can give an real time view of the experience I had on the day. Using images provided by businesses or PR can be misleading.
Local, independent and ethical
These are all important to me but it’s hard to find many businesses that fit this bill. I specialise in independently owned businesses but just occasionally a venue that is part of a small chain will be included but I will always make this clear. My interest here was cemented after completing an MSc in Food Policy at City University in London in 2008. Independents keep money and employment in the local community.
I often review food products for companies. My policy is: if I like it I will publish a review if I don’t think its good enough I won’t. My time judging on the Great Taste Awards a couple of years ago has been helpful here too.
Constructive not critical
Nothing negative here! (I am not Jay Rayner). I know its hard work to run a food business. Restaurants, cafés and shops all have off days when nothing seems to go right or staff, are absent. If my first visit isn’t all that it could be I’ll wait a couple of months and go back again. This is only fair if many aspects of my experience have been really good. I don’t ever make negative comments in my reviews or on social media this is because I only ever want to write about the good experiences I have had. If a business isn’t on my site it’s either because I haven’t been there yet or I didn’t like it!
Surrey is a big county with a lot of established food businesses and many new ones popping up. I live in Guildford so it made sense to give myself a geographic boundary. If a food producer over the county borders sells in Surrey farm shops I will write about them but for restaurants, shops and cafés my policy is, that they should be in the county.
If you have been somewhere that you think should be on my site drop me a line and tell me why! firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about me and the services I offer follow this link www.shirleeposner.co.uk