As online food sites become increasingly influential in the restaurant business, chefs and owners are plying bloggers with free meals to get good write-ups. Some are also posting favorable reviews about themselves on popular Web sites or becoming Internet scribes.
Among those using the tactics are some of the biggest names in the business. Terrance Brennan, co-owner and chef of New York's Artisanal Bistro and Picholine, hosted a cheese class for bloggers last year, waiving the usual $75-a-person fee. Bill Telepan, chef and co-owner of Telepan in New York, donated a $200, four-course meal to one influential blogger's online contest. And in Washington, the Park Hyatt's Blue Duck Tavern says it invited a customer back for a free Father's Day meal after she posted a negative comment on the Washington Post's Web site. (In a follow-up post, the diner wrote, "We will definitely return to Blue Duck Tavern," not mentioning that she had been invited free.)
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