Popular Gainesville Food Blogger Under Siege for Instagram Posts – WUFT News | Instant News

That’s just a double sense, the person behind the popular food blog “KenEatsGainesville” said.

At worst, Ken Peng said, his message to the Publix store employees was an outrageous joke.

Many of his thousands of followers disagreed, calling him inappropriate and unnecessarily obscene – and their reaction was so strong that perhaps Gainesville’s most influential food reviewer should apologize and back off.

“I don’t try to sexually harass anyone. I’m not trying to make anyone uncomfortable, ”said Peng, 34, who has kept the blog for seven years. “Obviously, I missed the mark.”

Critics have accused blogger Ken Peng of harassing supermarket employees after he posted this photo to his Instagram page last week. (Courtesy of Ken Peng)

It all started on Thursday morning, when Peng placed an online order for a chicken sub tender. In the room for specific instructions, he typed, “I miss the long, hard 12-inch sultry cock bathing in a warm cream bath of buffalo sauce.” Four sentences filled with sarcasm followed.

This isn’t the first time Peng has put a note into his online order, he says, though it’s usually not too controversial: “Cuban bread if you have it. I love you.”

So she didn’t think of anything to post photo receipt to her Instagram account. However, private messages quickly flooded his inbox, with some followers saying it made them uncomfortable. He quickly removed it, but not before someone shared it through the GNV community on Reddit, online aggregates and forums.

That’s where criticism of the note – one user called it a “gruesome attempt at literary light pornography” – turned to its contempt for Peng. The anonymous user said he had a history of problem behavior.

Bloggers use their local celebrities to pressure women to date them. That’s a lie, said Peng. He pressured the restaurant to give him free food. Another lie, he said.

“Suddenly, everyone wanted to think of me as a monster,” said Peng. “It’s not me at all.”

At its peak, “KenEatsGainesville” had an online following of about 22,000 people. Her reviews have had a big influence on where to eat, said Freddie Wehbe, 53, a marketing consultant for several local restaurants, including Mi Apá, Gators Dockside and Hurricane BTW.

Wehbe survey thousands of locals each year to find out how they choose where to eat. Since 2016, the top answer has been Peng’s blog.

“They go to the page before they go to anything else,” said the consultant. “Even before Google, that was incredible.”

When asked to speak to WUFT News about Peng and his Publix messages, most of the Reddit commentators contacted were quick to give their opinion but declined to give his name.

Amber Jensen, 36, from Gainesville, who used to work at downtown bar The Midnight, said what she perceives as arrogance may have something to do with it.

“He was there once and got really drunk and was like, ‘I’m Ken and I’m an important figure in this community,'” said Jensen. “He definitely wants to give the impression that if we don’t do what he wants, he could leave a negative review.”

The allegation that Peng uses its food reviews like currency is one of the most common among Reddit’s critics. He denied it loudly. Restaurant owners often offer to compensate him for his reviews, but Peng says he consistently turns them down.

Wehbe agrees.

“He can’t be bribed,” said the marketing consultant. “I’ll send him a thank you, you know, give him a gift card from the restaurant he reviewed. He will send it back. “

Thomas Tarrant, 26, owner of the Brother Cookie bakery on Northeast 23rd Avenue, also agrees.

“In fact, when he first walked in, I tried to give him a cake at home,” said Tarrant, who declined to comment on Peng’s Publix messages. “He said no, he would pay for it.”

Peng’s influence left him open to criticism from some when he posted negative comments about a thriving restaurant – especially during the pandemic. Indeed, his first review of Brother Cookies, which opened in April, mentioned that the cookies he ate from there were dry.

The blog post drew angry comments from his followers, Peng said, but it led Tarrant to discover that his oven was giving off uneven heat. Peng said he liked his cake ever since.

“All I ever do is voice my opinion and then try to help these restaurants,” he said. “I mean, for God’s sake, I’m in the middle trying to raise funds for Bread of the Mighty Food Bank to provide food for people in need in Gainesville. “

Peng deactivated his public account on Thursday evening. They didn’t go away forever, just hidden away, until Peng decided he wanted to start over. He posted an apology on his website, admitting his notes were inappropriate and denying the claims made about him.

“I’m taking the joke too far. I apologize for that, “he told WUFT. “But people are using this as a stepping stone just to spread all these lies. I just need to take a step back. “

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