When it's not swimming in egotistical backwash, ranking crisp brands or churning out identical-looking flatlays of untouched food, it turns out that social media is actually capable of providing some serious food for thought. Take this, for example: a few weeks ago, Jon Spiteri – a London legend with more than 40 years' experience in restaurant service – took to Instagram to share a couple of snapshots pulled straight from an old scrapbook he'd unearthed in his mother's house.
Picture after picture of a young Margot and Fergus Henderson, Spiteri himself and many other recognisable faces appeared, disappeared and reappeared throughout his Stories. Flicking through the slides felt like jumping back in time – a time when the Hendersons' first restaurant The Dining Room at The French House was shiny and new, and St. John had yet to even exist.
Even as someone yet to breach the 25-year mark, it's weird for me to think of London's restaurant scene without St. John, but there Margot and Fergus Henderson were, laughing over a staff meal at The French House, circa 1992. Their pared-back, nose-to-tail philosophy – one that's had such a profound impact on London's drinking and dining scene in the years since – was probably just an idea in motion, and maybe not even that.
Spiteri's sepia-toned stories (which are still up on @spitz69 for all to see, by the way) are packed with a heady dose of nostalgia, but more importantly they serve up a reminder that hospitality is much more than a gap year-filler or an industry populated with, what some would – wrongly – describe, as 'unskilled workers'.
There are careers and friendships to be forged – and not just good ones, great ones at that. Spiteri, the Hendersons and those pictured elsewhere in Peter Jackson's fantastic photography project @longservicelondon are all testament to that.
And everyone, including those behind the pass, us in food media and dedicated diners alike, could probably do with remembering that next time we skim through a list of London's hottest new restaurant openings. Sometimes it's more about going the distance than maxing out on the sprint.