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Top Chef calls to rant about negative comments


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#31 PhilD

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 11:20 PM

The level of familiarity indicated by the use of the chef's first name supports this.


I wouldn't put much stock on using Marcus' first name, it is pretty standard practice outside the US.

I actually find it quite strange to see the the use of "Chef XXXX" as a term of address. "Chef" isn't an academic qualification like a Doctorate or a professionally certified qualification like an Architect. Yes, many chefs have gone to college and have trade qualifications but lets not inflate their ego's any more by pretending it is an "accredited" title.

Next we will have "Plumber Jones" or "Bartender Bill" or "Fryer Tuck"....although now I think I am getting my Dylan Thomas mixed up with English folk tales.

#32 marcusjames

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 02:02 AM

Everyone has the right to express their views, spoken or written, so was Marcus wrong to respond by way of a personal phone call? No one's heard this call and, considering the thread as a whole, members have taken it as face value. Personally I am left with further questions; for example (and I am sure the Critical Couple will be happy to clarify this), did Marcus actually raise his voice at any point, or was it just what was said that offended? Rant also suggests he spoke at them, or was a discussion actually had?

Turning to the review itself, I can understand Marcus' frustrations on certain points...

Menu changes: The CC have been 7 times in 11 months. Some dishes have changed during the interim, others haven't. The restaurant is striving for consistency, so obviously certain signature plates are going to remain. Although it is a separate debate as to the frequency a menu should turn, it should be pointed out there's a very famous 3 star restaurant outside of London where the menu hardly refreshes at all and, for a 2 or 3 year period, actually didn't. 2 & 3 stars are not neighbourhood venues with weekly specials, they're unique occasion destinations and this needs to be considered. At what point during the 7 visits in 11 months the CC decide they were bored with certain dishes? This was surely an inevitability given their attendance. Imagine the comments if they had visited The Fat Duck as many times instead?

Marcus in the kitchen: I know for a fact Marcus is in his kitchen more than most of his equivalent peers. In a recent article in the Mail he confirmed as much. There are very few chefs - if any - who work every service. Consequently, I'm sure it's massively frustrating for him to take a rare trip and, when he does, it's plastered all over the blogosphere - unfortunate timing in the extreme. This leads me to my next point...

Posting: As Harters mentions earlier, the review wasn't just listed here. I note the CC blog is relatively new. Whilst I appreciate all websites need 'feeding' and traffic needs to be driven, this net was cast far and wide at the restaurants expense. I'm not personally convinced the follow-up post about the call was ethical or fair either, whatever the nature of the conversation, a call is a personal gesture, did it really need or deserve putting into the public domain? But, what notoriety the CC have now ensured the blog and themselves!

Objectivity: Food at this level is subjective, I am sure that the lamb and beef the CC mention as being unremarkable has been (or is) - for others - highly enjoyable. It's the execution that ultimately defines a dish. This particular paragraph is where the CC also raise the issue of stars. As I say, everyone has the right to a review and an opinion, but does the report really need to turn into a form of open letter to Wareing telling them what they need to do to get the 3rd twinkler? It does come across as a tad patronising. If I were a chef of Marcus' calibre it would certainly have got my back up.

Edited by marcusjames, 31 October 2010 - 02:05 AM.


#33 Jenni

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 02:29 AM

Interesting. I don't think your review is particularly harsh, though it is a little condescending at times. I also think you were a little precious about the birthday thing. Personally I've had some really nice surprises laid on at restaurants who knew it was my birthday, but I don't think it's something you should expect. What did you want, freebies? The chef to come out and sing? I'm sure if Marcus had been there he would have come and wished your wife happy birthday, but he wasn't. I hope this doesn't sound harsh, I do understand that you probably had a few thoughts that something special might happen, but you don't want to be too greedy now do you?!

What puzzles me is why Marcus rang you. I have to take it at face value, that you are not exactly friends but that he is aware of you, and that he rang up and was rude to you. What I find strange is that the review is not even that bad! You say you liked some of the food, and some of it was not bad and not amazing. You commented that the service was lacking it's usual spark. That's pretty much it. Now I can understand that he might ring up and point out to you that sometimes restaurants have an off-night, and that he is sorry you visited on such a night, and would you please come back another time for something better. Possibly implicating a free meal...though perhaps he thought you were angling for one and this is why he got mad....

The other odd thing is the state of total brainless-ness that Marcus must have been in when he rang you. Ok, so he wants to complain because you blogged details about a bad meal. You have blogged about meals before. You are a BLOGGER. And yet he rings up to have a go at you, with apparently no thought that you might share such a call with the rest of the world via your blog or some other means. Tell me, did he sound drunk when he rang?!

#34 MrsCC

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 02:43 AM

Tell me, did he sound drunk when he rang?!


I am in the middle of prep for a charity event we are hosting so I have to be brief. Marcus in no way sounded drunk. He sounded angry but in no way under the influence. I will reply to the other comments ASAP. Thanks
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#35 Mandarin

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 03:47 AM

I really think you're making quite a meal of this.........

#36 Jenni

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 03:59 AM

MrsCC, my tongue was firmly in my cheek :smile:

Edited by Jenni, 31 October 2010 - 04:00 AM.


#37 Harters

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 04:20 AM

or "Fryer Tuck"....

Actually the name of a nearby fish & chip shop.

Have to agree with you, Phil, about the use of "Chef" of a title. Just seems odd - raising it to the sort of status of "Doctor", "Colonel" or "Mr". Still, different cultures have different forms of etiquette.
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#38 Man

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 03:45 PM

The only sensible continuation of this story is that the Top Chef in questions calls back and apologises.

Anybody has the right to write a candid opinion. He (or she) who writes bullshit, will soon be found out. He will quickly lose all credibility and will be ignored. There are very many who write (I am grateful to all of them), but very few I follow and trust.

Restaurateurs needn't worry too much about incompetent reviewers, the market will eat them up and they won't do damage. Restaurateurs should rather worry about obviously discerning customers who complain, and reflect.

I would also say that if the above is true for every reviewer, it is even truer for somebody who pays stratospheric prices for a dinner. Spending hundreds of pounds on a meal entitles you to nothing less than perfection, sorry. In a simple trattoria-style place at £20 a meal I hardly mention it if I find a few beards in mussels. But when I am paying heavy money I do so for everything to be JUST PERFECT. If it is not, I can write it everywhere I want to, it's as simple as that. 'Stabbing in the back'? Please.

Some celebrity chefs struggle to understand that those prices are not an entitlement that comes with the brand: they have to be earned every day, with every single customer, with every single dish and act of service. If there is an unhappy customer, just apologise: is it that difficult?

Then again, the market eventually takes care of those who don't understand this principle. I have the feeling that the Top Chef, who is a great professional, will call back and apologise, if he hasn't already done so.

#39 rudallrose

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 01:48 AM

I find it a bit sad that this poster has had to post this story on not one, but two food-related websites. It was bad enough reading it the first time. I'm totally amazed that a chef as busy as Wareing had 30 minutes to spare to abuse this woman verbally via the telephone, regardless of her having eaten at his restaurant more than 10 times in one year.

#40 confiseur

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 06:28 AM

I am sure Mr Wareing is extremely generous and forgiving of his staff when they make an error, perceived or otherwise :wink:

#41 marcusjames

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 09:04 AM

I would also say that if the above is true for every reviewer, it is even truer for somebody who pays stratospheric prices for a dinner. Spending hundreds of pounds on a meal entitles you to nothing less than perfection, sorry. In a simple trattoria-style place at £20 a meal I hardly mention it if I find a few beards in mussels. But when I am paying heavy money I do so for everything to be JUST PERFECT. If it is not, I can write it everywhere I want to, it's as simple as that. 'Stabbing in the back'? Please.

Some celebrity chefs struggle to understand that those prices are not an entitlement that comes with the brand: they have to be earned every day, with every single customer, with every single dish and act of service. If there is an unhappy customer, just apologise: is it that difficult?


I know it's probably clear my sympathies lie with Marcus on this, but on the subject of the CC bill I think it needs pointing out that the tasting menu at MW is £115, which means by way of rough estimation, the CC spent £300-350 on booze. You can get out of Wareing for a lot less than that. In short, they drove the bill to £600, not the restaurant. Yes, it's not the cheapest gaff in the UK, but you do get what you pay for.

I agree with the comments about execution of the food vs price, and to be fair to the CC they don't actually criticise this, the review was more about the lack of overall wow factor.

#42 Patrick_O

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:41 AM

Although the phone rant was inexcusable, I too can sympathise with MW on this. I think the review itself as a standalone is overly harsh and slightly pedantic but in the context of half a dozen previous good experiences, it seems very unfair that the restaurant was not afforded the opportunity to make amends prior to publication of such a scathing review.

#43 PoppySeedBagel

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:55 AM

They were very clear in the review that they had previously enjoyed the restuarant. If a fisrt time diner were to go and have that sort of experience at those prices they would be justifiably aggrieved. Since the CCs had posted their good meals, I think it's fine for them to post the less than perfect ones too. That's the power of the www, like it or not.

What is disappointing is the fact that Marcus W saw fit not to take their comments in the spirit in which they were meant - to phone as he did is appalling.

#44 MacD

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 03:23 AM

To me, the issue isn't about whether reviewers should run their reviews past the restaurant before releasing them to the world - that would be nonsense. It is more to do with the fact that (as the reviewers have stated themselves)Marcus had been very generous with his time on the other occasions they had visited, he had chatted to them, showed them around the kitchen, left messages when he hadn't been there etc etc. In that context, and in the context of having had six or seven faultless meals there in the last year, I think they should have raised their disappointments with him first, to alert him to the problem/s and to give him a chance to rectify them. I do understand that places of this calibre (and price) should be reliably faultless, but because of the history of their experiences there, I think it a bit mean-spirited to very publicly highlight (on what seems to be a very new and widely promoted blog) what are relatively minor complaints about the food and about the service not being personal enough.

#45 RDB

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 06:31 AM

People used to travel miles and pay loads of money to have the honour of being verbally abused by a chef.

I think you should consider yourself lucky to have experienced an old fashion art which is sadly in decline. Maybe you could use this experience to draw attention to your blog. Contact a tabloid paper, they might be interested to run a story regaring "Mad Marcus's patience Wareing thin"! :rolleyes:

#46 RedRum

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:56 AM

1) We have to take the bloggers "Rant accusation" at face value. We do not really know the tone or what was actually said

2)You have been extremely flaky about your description of your relationship with MW. In the blog you say he has has been friendly, then you say that it was actually once you talked to him (or something like that...) but the rest was with the D, etc etc... you are loosing credibility....

3)Although no "harsh" words were said in the review, you implied two things: one, that the restaurant collapses when MW is not there; two, that maybe it is not worth of its two stars. these are really serious accusations, and insulting to any high-end restaurant and two star chef. If you are writing a blog, and you are make public accusations for a restaurant, be prepared for a response.


just to clarify, I do not know MW, I have actually never eaten at his restaurant. But I understand a bit of a "anger" if someone who has been treated well there many times before, decides to write a review which implies that they are lazy because they do not change the menu often enough, the place goes tits up when he is not there, and that he might not be worthy of 2 stars...

Edited by RedRum, 02 November 2010 - 09:06 AM.


#47 sethd

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:23 AM

I actually find it quite strange to see the the use of "Chef XXXX" as a term of address. "Chef" isn't an academic qualification like a Doctorate or a professionally certified qualification like an Architect. Yes, many chefs have gone to college and have trade qualifications but lets not inflate their ego's any more by pretending it is an "accredited" title.

I have no problem addressing a chef as chef. I use it as a term of respect because i have great appreciation for what the greatest chefs accomplish. All the great chefs I have met, in New York and in France have been humble gentleman. I include Chefs Savoy, Passard, and Ducasse in France and Chefs Keller, Ribert, etc in New York City. Perhaps egotistically chefs are just found in the U.K.

#48 nickloman

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:51 AM

Whenever I hear the narrator say "Chef Ramsay" on that terrible American programme he's on I want to pass my own face through a mouli.

#49 prasantrin

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 10:04 AM

Perhaps egotistically chefs are just found in the U.K.


Really? You're just being ironic, right?

US chefs never throw tantrums?

Or behave in an arrogant manner?

Or are jerks to staff or customers?

Edited by prasantrin, 02 November 2010 - 10:04 AM.


#50 sethd

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 11:05 AM

I was referring to one specific British chef, whose name need not be mentioned. Though, I have never had anything but wonderful interactions with the famous 3 star chefs I have met over the last decade.

#51 Edward J

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 11:48 PM

You know, I've worked for some very good Chefs, Swiss "Eidgenossiche Diplomierte" Chefs, which is, I believe, Switzerlands's top credential for Chefs. Worked under two of them after my apprenticeship, and was taught by one during my apprenticeship when I went to shool one day of the week. I addressed these men as "Herr Elsenbast, Herr Gothuey, Herr Lichtenberger", as did all of the other staff including hotel owners and clients.

I still squirm when I hear "Chef Smith"....

#52 Doodlebug1980

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 07:08 AM

I am absolutely flabbergasted that a Chef would behave like this! How very unprofessional!

#53 JeanneCake

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 12:35 PM

I am absolutely flabbergasted that a Chef would behave like this! How very unprofessional!


And posting this fact (about the chef calling) isn't unprofessional?!

#54 Harters

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 02:05 PM

And posting this fact (about the chef calling) isn't unprofessional?!

Happy to be corrected but I hadnt thought the Critical Couple were professionals.
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#55 PhilD

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 03:55 PM


I am absolutely flabbergasted that a Chef would behave like this! How very unprofessional!


And posting this fact (about the chef calling) isn't unprofessional?!


Isn't the idea behind blogs and the boards that it gives is non-professionals a voice? Information isn't filtered which is a major strength (and also a weakness) as the non-professional doesn't need to kowtow to the catering professionals. New media, means new behavioural norms, the private "rant" now becomes very public. Some chefs (including those on this board) are adept at using this new media to get closer to the public and the symbiotic relationship seems to benefit all, but as the public is a fickle beast then due care must be exercised.

I value posts and blogs that demonstrate a critical distance from the restaurant. Reports that are always positive have no value to me as I don't believe anyone can have that much luck with restaurants and I am suspicious critical facilities are dulled by comped PR meals for bloggers.

So should the CC have posted/blogged this? Of course they should it shows they proceed without fear nor favour.

#56 marcusjames

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 04:53 PM



I am absolutely flabbergasted that a Chef would behave like this! How very unprofessional!


And posting this fact (about the chef calling) isn't unprofessional?!


Isn't the idea behind blogs and the boards that it gives is non-professionals a voice? Information isn't filtered which is a major strength (and also a weakness) as the non-professional doesn't need to kowtow to the catering professionals. New media, means new behavioural norms, the private "rant" now becomes very public. Some chefs (including those on this board) are adept at using this new media to get closer to the public and the symbiotic relationship seems to benefit all, but as the public is a fickle beast then due care must be exercised.

I value posts and blogs that demonstrate a critical distance from the restaurant. Reports that are always positive have no value to me as I don't believe anyone can have that much luck with restaurants and I am suspicious critical facilities are dulled by comped PR meals for bloggers.

So should the CC have posted/blogged this? Of course they should it shows they proceed without fear nor favour.


Yeah, I agree with this for the most part, it's a totally valid point.

The issue for me is, when chefs do use social media it is a direct communication; specifically through this medium. The problem with the CC is Marcus made a personal call and then they converted it by way of a post. That's very different. Had he responded openly, via one of the foodie message boards, I'd agree 100%.

There's also a difference between a report being critical, as opposed to objective. I personally don't think the CC were objective with the review, which is why - in turn - it makes their criticisms so difficult to accept.

#57 Dakki

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 05:23 PM

Afraid I disagree. Once a call touches on business (such as the OP's review of the restaurant) it ceases being a personal call and becomes a business call. This is in line with every company policy -I- ever heard of, anyway.

Out of curiosity, what points raised in the OP's review do you think were not objective?
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#58 JeanneCake

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 06:47 PM

We only know one side of the conversation, and not much of that, either. My objection to this is the fact that the chef most likely has no knowledge that the CC were making it known far and wide that they received this call. No one likes to be blindsided and no one should. In my opinion, true professionals do not behave like spoiled children stamping their feet and saying "look what bad things have been said about me". In this thread, we have the CC making their experience known and the chef taking exception to that (first tantrum), and then the CC have a tantrum by saying "the chef spoke rudely to me, wahh!" I 'm not suggesting that we all behave perfectly all the time, but when we behave badly, do we have to shine s spotlight on it and keep probing the wound? Do you want your mistakes at work to be broadcast far and wide?

Mrs CC should have informed the caller that she would be making the call known to the public; and included a transcript (OK, I'm being pedantic about this); but the bottom line is that they blogged about their experience, the chef called to discuss it and we only know what Mrs CC wants us to know about this call. What's the motive behind that? I can't find a shred of professionalism in that action and this action (posting about the call) from Mrs CC is equally as unprofessional and childish as what she claims Chef Wareing's behavior was during the phone call.

#59 dragonflychef

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 09:59 PM

I havent posted in quite some time. I am a professional chef and wanted to share a few thoughts.

Whether you wanted to or not, this exchange and subsequent posting(s) have altered your relationship with the restaurant forever. If you value those relationships as much as you state on your blog, why not wait and give the management time to resolve the issues. It seems this has brought several new readers to your blog. I hope that wasnt the intention.

I can tell you as someone who has paid their mortgage with what is left in the till at the end of the month, that blogs and reviews are seriuos , professional and casual. You, whether you want to or not, are affecting peoples lives and livelihood. I know the argument of your money being valuable as well. But you have stirred anti sentiment with a very non professional review that may eclipse your 600 euro mark by 10s of thousands.

The review itself is very condescending from my professional opinion. I believe we have all become way too cavalier with our words.

If you really want to help the next restaurant that underdelivers, that has potential to, write or email them directly instead of posting on the blog. I can tell you that honest feedback is always listened to.

The fact that Eater picked this story up and is blasting it on email alert is saddening. In a profession that is supposed to be about pleasure and happiness, this whole mess reeks of miscommunication and self importance. I hope eater doesnt publish your names in their next email blast.

#60 marcusjames

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 01:10 AM

Afraid I disagree. Once a call touches on business (such as the OP's review of the restaurant) it ceases being a personal call and becomes a business call. This is in line with every company policy -I- ever heard of, anyway.

Out of curiosity, what points raised in the OP's review do you think were not objective?


Dakki - my thoughts on the review, including its objectivity, are in my first post on this subject at the top of the page (2).