Michael Birchenall is the editor and publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a trade publication that covers the hospitality industry with the softest of touches. His job is to pass along news and write features about the industry, not criticize it. His work was acknowledged this year when the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington gave the magazine the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year award.

Michael Birchenall got kicked out of the Capital Food Fight last night. Well, he sort of kicked himself out. Birchenall explains in his blog post:

Well, I don’t know. You see in the middle of round three of the annual DC Central Kitchen Capital Foodfight, I was asked to leave the stage. At the moment I was dismissed, I was in my neutral corner … waiting for an appropriate moment to move to take a photograph of a chef in action. And then I would have moved back to my space out of the way. That’s how I was operating. That’s how I always work. People who are familiar with Foodservice Monthly know me for my foto choronicles of our great hospitality world. I explained to the DCCK official that If I had to leave the stage, I couldn’t do my job and I would leave. She said goodbye. I said goodbye.

I e-mailed Birchenall today to get some more perspective on the situation. He had this to say (slightly edited):

I wanted to shoot an action shot from the final round —-using whoever would be the winner to be my “star.” They clearly got overwhelmed in round 2 with people on stage who just appeared with cameras. One dude was swinging around his attached backpack, some other guy appeared to be in a daze and could not stay away from the videographer. It was a mess … and I just stepped back out of the way. In between rounds they must have told all of them that nobody could go back on stage, but I was out on the floor doing some grip and grins and got back on stage right after round 3 started. I noticed that the scene was less wild and was standing away from the action when I was told I had to get off the stage. Like I said I told them that if I left the stage, I would leave. That was fine with the way they were handling the situation. I like what DCCK does. I won’t change in how I cover them — except for this event….But in 15 years of doing this, I have never been stopped from doing what I do … and that includes president speeches at the NRA Show, Beard … anywhere I have covered the industry.