'Not right to be banned for negative review,' FooDiva speaks out after Dubai review spat

Foodiva's Samantha Wood says action by Chef Izu Ani will cause reputational damage to his brand, and suggests a possible public boycott as a result

Izu ani, Gaia, Foodiva, Food blogger, Samantha wood

Food blogger Samantha Wood has expressed disappointment over her ban from Greek restaurant Gaia, placed on her by Chef Izu Ani following a negative review she published on her well-known Dubai food blog Foodiva.

Ani claimed to Caterer Middle East that the review, which was written by guest reviewer Matt Broderick, was ‘personal’ and relates to a previous clash with Wood after he refused her request to pay thousands of dirhams to be included in her commercial concept Dine Around Dubai. The chef behind concepts such as La Serre also accused Wood of asking for ‘freebies’ at his restaurants.

Speaking to Arabian Business, Wood denied the allegations and said the review was ‘objective’ and did not warrant a ban from the DIFC restaurant.

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“No, it’s not right, but it’s a restaurant’s prerogative to treat customers, impartial reviewers included, as they see fit. I obviously don’t think it’s right to be banned for a negative review, especially one that is objective and constructive, but I have no personal issues with a ban as it’s one less restaurant that I need to have on my radar and I can use that money for other deserving restaurants,” she said.

Wood added that the move by Ani will likely cause reputational damage to his brand, going as far as to suggest a possible public boycott.

“All a ban does is create more negative press for the chef and restaurant, which can also lead the trade and public to boycotting his/ her restaurant,” she said.

While the food blogger has not personally dined at Gaia, she defended Broderick’s review, calling it ‘an honest portrayal of the dining experience’ at the venue.

The review describes Gaia as being “fawlty-esque”, in reference to the poorly run hotel featured in British sitcom Fawlty Towers. It also criticises its limited water options, tight seating plan and strict door policy.

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