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Top Chef calls to rant about negative comments


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#61 Dakki

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 01:39 AM

Marcus - interesting stuff, dude. I don't really see anything that would put the objectivity of the review in doubt, just your unjustified opinion that Mr. Waring deserves our undying admiration and those who dare criticize him are simply philistines. Thus my query.

Dragonflychef - I understand your and Mr Waring's frustration with the negative review and wish to suggest that this should have been dealt with constructively, as a source of information on the things that might be improved in his establishment. The fact that he preferred to attack the reviewer rather than the problem areas speaks volumes about his attitude towards the business and his customers. That's the most diplomatic way I can put it.

Speaking as someone who runs a small business completely unrelated to the hospitality business, I find this whole thing beyond belief. Maybe my industry as a whole has a different attitude towards unsatisfied customers. I honestly don't know.
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#62 marcusjames

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 02:21 AM

Marcus - interesting stuff, dude. I don't really see anything that would put the objectivity of the review in doubt, just your unjustified opinion that Mr. Waring deserves our undying admiration and those who dare criticize him are simply philistines. Thus my query.


I've said enough in this thread now and don't want to continually contribute to bumping it up the index. However, I do take issue with that comment Dakki. At no point (in any post) did I say Marcus deserves our 'undying attention' and, more to the point, suggest the CC are philistines. I may disagree with their opinions and actions surrounding this matter, but I certainly don't think them that.

Edited by marcusjames, 04 November 2010 - 02:23 AM.


#63 Chris Amirault

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 06:14 AM

You can read the Eater coverage here. Their questions:

Was there a better way to handle this situation? Yes, absolutely. Why would a big-name chef get so angry about a single blog post, and how much power is he giving bloggers by doing so? How about the fact that Wareing possibly abused the reservation system to acquire their phone number? And in what way is a negative restaurant review analogous to poor fashion choices?

We've reached out to Wareing and the restaurant for comment and will update when we hear back.


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#64 BertieWooster

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 12:21 PM

Maybe he called to complain about the appalling way the original review was written. It's so pedantic and over-written as to come across as a spoof.

It's odd how bloggers and tweeters act all surprised when companies actually contact them (or respond to blog-posts) to counter arguments. Used to be commmon practice in a place where I worked that negative letters in the press would be followed by a visit to the complainer in person. Which was always fun.
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#65 confiseur

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 02:41 PM

Maybe he called to complain about the appalling way the original review was written. It's so pedantic and over-written as to come across as a spoof.


Oh come on Bertie, you cannot be serious...Shakespeare it is not but the criticisms were pretty mild..and as for pedantic and over written,check out AA Gill and Mr Coren or the King of Pomposity himself, the one and only Jay Rayner.

#66 rudallrose

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 11:03 PM

What a lot of people here do not know is that these bloggers tried to make a big splash on another website dedicated to food. They posted at least 5 reviews of London restaurants and all ended with an advertisement for their blog. Fair enough, and you can accuse me of being cynical and skeptical about their true motives now making this fuss about Marcus Wareing and his behaviour. I think they are publicity seekers of the worst type.

I think by drawing out this thread, we are probably feeding their egos even more.

#67 Chef Hermes Blog

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 12:45 AM

We've read the review and come to a few conclusions based on the 3 pages of responses.

Firstly, writing a restaurant review on a blog is different from a restaurant critic printing their weekly column in the weekend paper. Mainly because most blogs will give you a right of reply, it's called "COMMENTS". Chefs have bemoaned the fact that they never had this with the printed media & now they have it, this happens.

We do a series of restaurant reviews called 'Cheaper Eats', generally eating in Michelin star places for in or around £30. We mention this as we did Bohemia on Jersey during the summer. Shaun Rankin even tweeted about us coming, and was in the kitchen at the time. The meal upto & including the main course was outstanding, easily 2rising star. After that Oh dear. We tweeted & posted the review, and offered the Bohemia team a right of reply ~ Nothing.

Yes, we have no idea of the tone of language used by Mr Wareing or if it actually happened at all. As has been said above by others this discussion is driving traffic to a blog, cynical or not, it is happening. If it did happen as reported, just imagine what it was like in his kitchen. These are tough places where brutal actions & language are used generally.

As a review it's self, yes it's not great,

The Cornish seabass that came next was perfectly cooked and totally beautiful.

. What was it with?, why was it great? what were the flavour combinations? It's a little bit lacking to be of any use as a review. The reviewers also bemoan the fact that Mr Wareing has changed the menu very little in the past 12 months. Ever been to the Fat Duck? The most common complaint we hear about the Fat Duck is that the menu hasn't change to any great degree in nearly 2 years. Not that the tables are too close together or that the staff dragging a wooden bench around the room is irritating, no it's the menu. So it's a mute point.

We're not for one minute going to excuse Mr Wareing's alleged actions, but quite frankly it all seems a little bit of a storm in a tea cup.

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#68 Jenni

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 02:53 AM

Wow, there seem to be a lot of people overreacting here. Anyone heard of free speech? The OP's review seems perfectly in-line with this, and come on guys it's not that harsh!

Also, although it is true that some blogs can have a huge impact on the world and thus could potentially inflate or damage a restaurant's reputation, you should remember that everybody and their friend has a blog now, and not all of them make such waves. And as evidenced from this thread, not all the people who read the blog will agree with it anyway, so I think it's a tad over the top to suggest that it's going to ruin the restaurant!

Oh, and whether or not the OP is just shilling their blog by posting here, it doesn’t really change the fact that Marcus Wareing made a poor judgement here.

#69 Harters

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 03:18 AM

What a lot of people here do not know is that these bloggers tried to make a big splash on another website dedicated to food. They posted at least 5 reviews of London restaurants and all ended with an advertisement for their blog.

I'm unsure what you perceive to be the issue here.

A blogger decides to make a contribution on two discussion boards? Well, shock horror at that.

A blogger includes a link to their blog so folk can view a more extensive review and see the piccies? What on earth is wrong with that? The fact they are "advertising" their blog? Well, let's face it a number of posters here include a link to their blogs or other websites in their "signature" - so they advertise their blog on every post they make. I have yet to see someone complain about that - and why would they? Are we not all grown-ups?
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#70 MrsCC

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 03:58 AM

http://www.guardian....food-and-drink1
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#71 codheadred

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 05:18 AM

Keep going MrsCC it'll be on ITN next ;)

#72 paul o' vendange

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 06:44 AM

I may get flamed. In this era of entire fiefdoms built on air, I don't think we need more energy swirling around the insubstantial. We must go to the thing itself, and ask questions accordingly.

I find the review vapid. Based on what I have seen, I can't help but taste self-seeking, on the back of someone's honorable work. The private conversation he allegedly had should have remained just that, a private conversation; if things took place as they did, while I don't condone his behavior, I have to admit I understand it. I cannot support both the original blog itself - beyond its lack on the merits, as many have said, if the desire was a corrective, this scattershot was no way to achieve it - as well as the mushrooming publicity engine seemingly sought, perhaps from the beginning, since.

Edited by paul o' vendange, 05 November 2010 - 06:45 AM.

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#73 PhilD

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 01:32 PM


What a lot of people here do not know is that these bloggers tried to make a big splash on another website dedicated to food. They posted at least 5 reviews of London restaurants and all ended with an advertisement for their blog.

I'm unsure what you perceive to be the issue here.

A blogger decides to make a contribution on two discussion boards? Well, shock horror at that.

A blogger includes a link to their blog so folk can view a more extensive review and see the piccies? What on earth is wrong with that? The fact they are "advertising" their blog? Well, let's face it a number of posters here include a link to their blogs or other websites in their "signature" - so they advertise their blog on every post they make. I have yet to see someone complain about that - and why would they? Are we not all grown-ups?


Well put John. I am finding it quite weird that people are criticising links to blogs. It has been common practice since I started reading the boards. Some are good, some are bad. It is me prerogative to click the link or not. I can't see it as self promotion, it is simply how things work these days.

#74 KD1191

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 01:53 PM

From the Guardian piece linked upthread:

A journalist can pretend to be just a customer and a customer, these days, can express their opinion as if they were a journalist - but it's difficult to claim to be both, simultaneously with any degree of credibility.

Here is what I find a bit off-putting. The OP wants to eat their cake and have it too. They want to post their opinions like a journalist, but when they are called out for them they want to retreat to the customer mode and be horrified that they would be held to account. They want to pal around with the chef, but insist that he not take the sort of offense that he certainly should if a friend publicly ripped into his restaurant because a perfect storm of staff absences lead to an off night.

Yes, perhaps the review is far from scathing to the naked eye, but I can't conceive of an honest reason for it to have been published. There is an agenda here, to be certain. If the previous 6 visits had all been exemplary, the aberration should have been handled in private baring an indication of a pattern of descent.

Edited by KD1191, 05 November 2010 - 01:55 PM.

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#75 Porthos

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 03:37 PM

If the previous 6 visits had all been exemplary, the aberration should have been handled in private baring an indication of a pattern of descent.

The OP did say in a subsequent post that they had tried to deal with it that night and had not been successfull.

We did discuss it with the maitre d before leaving but he failed to address any of our concerns.


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#76 KD1191

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 04:24 PM


If the previous 6 visits had all been exemplary, the aberration should have been handled in private baring an indication of a pattern of descent.

The OP did say in a subsequent post that they had tried to deal with it that night and had not been successfull.

We did discuss it with the maitre d before leaving but he failed to address any of our concerns.

If you had a terrible experience somewhere because you happened to attend on an evening where all of the staff you'd grown to love/expect were absent, would you stop at mentioning your displeasure to one of the staff that same evening? Or, might you perhaps consider following up with the absent chef and/or manager you purported to have a relationship with prior to airing the dirty laundry?

Edited by KD1191, 05 November 2010 - 04:26 PM.

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#77 IndyRob

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 06:22 PM


If the previous 6 visits had all been exemplary, the aberration should have been handled in private baring an indication of a pattern of descent.

The OP did say in a subsequent post that they had tried to deal with it that night and had not been successfull.

We did discuss it with the maitre d before leaving but he failed to address any of our concerns.


This being the new Maître d'... "(who we mistook for a regular waiter as he acted in all ways just like a regular waiter) didn’t even wish her a happy birthday."

Service was a problem and they identified the new Maître d' as a particular problem. So they complained to...the new Maître d'.

But then there's the CRM (Client Relationship Management/computerized relationship mockup) thing. The Maître d' should have known about the wife's birthday.

I've just had a birthday and was surprised by two letters from two restaurants (one I've been to, and one I have not) offering me free birthday entrees. My reaction was "WTF are you doing with my personal information?"

I'll go way out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps the new Maître d' was accustomed to old school personal service. Wherein you build a personal relationship with people by talking to them. Not from notes posted in a computer.

I suspect that I could be very well off base here, but I am feeling that this could have been handled far less publicly to better effect. Unless being public was the goal.

#78 dragonflychef

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 08:15 PM

Seems like publicity was the goal here, and we are playing into it. Sad

Edited by dragonflychef, 06 November 2010 - 08:15 PM.


#79 BertieWooster

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 07:41 AM


Maybe he called to complain about the appalling way the original review was written. It's so pedantic and over-written as to come across as a spoof.


Oh come on Bertie, you cannot be serious...Shakespeare it is not but the criticisms were pretty mild..and as for pedantic and over written,check out AA Gill and Mr Coren or the King of Pomposity himself, the one and only Jay Rayner.


I wasn't talking about the level of criticism. Indeed, it IS very mild. So mild, in fact, that one wonders why the criticisms were made at all. However, the blog is appallingly written. Mostly grammatically correct, but empty, tedious, long-winded, and making Michael Winner appear shy and humble. I don't agree with much of what Gill says, but he's wonderful to read. We live in a world where more people want to write books than regularly read them. Blogs like this show why that is so wrong. Most people should have their fingers broken rather than being allowed anywhere near a pen or keyboard.

And, after reading a few of their reviews, they come across as so whiningly self-important that I seriously doubt the original claims about the phone call.

Interesting that the general feeling on this thread is abut 70% (though lessening) in sympathy with the bloggers. The tide on The Guardian thread is about 98% against them. The view of food obsessives vs the view of the real (okay, Guardianista) world?
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#80 jenc

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 11:02 AM

And, after reading a few of their reviews, they come across as so whiningly self-important that I seriously doubt the original claims about the phone call.


From the Guardian quoting Marcus Wareing:

"I felt I could call them because we have spoken before - we then had a private conversation which I am saddened to see has now been posted."

MW was given the opportunity to respond and didn't refute the CC's claims - he was just "saddened" to see it posted. Just wanted to point that out.

I agree that with everyone that posts "they're doing it for the fame!" but really, who blogs for an absent audience? Just because they capitalized on things when interest from the public was raised doesn't make what occurred false. Or bad people. If they didn't have an audience, this thread would have fallen off the first page and not be on page 3.

The other thing I find perplexing about the haterade for the CC (whether you like their blog or not) - they had brought up their issues with the Maitre D before they left, which is appropriate. The staff, regardless of long-time patrons or not, should have responded. At a restaurant of that calibre, why would you expect less? Why would the onus be on the patrons to run to MW to complain further?

When they write about their experience, they state that this is one of many times they've gone to dine at MW's restaurant and that this was an anomalous experience for them and outlined what they felt was lacking.

Sure, they might have wanted to bring this up with MW when they next saw him, but they're not friends. It would have been nice, but there is no obligation between these parties.

So, I'm not sure what they did wrong here and why people think The CC are horrid people for detailing how they didn't feel this particular night was up to snuff. It's not like they're negating their previous visits. Just that out of eight(?) times, 1 visit was sub-par.

As someone who eats, it's nice to be able to read the reviews of many and ascertain if my dollars will be well spent. I like to know it's not always rainbows and kittens and I also like to know how I will be treated if my experience isn't good. Those are the salient points, for me, anyway.

Other random thoughts:
MW gifted the CC with this boon of a phone call (in regards to boosting the CC's blog) and well, like I said before, it could have been a positive PR thing for MW, but sadly, it was not. The CC posted about their lacklustre dinner, why would someone think they wouldn't post about a poor phone call regarding that dinner? I also think that this review would have gone quietly into the night had there been no phone call.

I think the most interesting thing to come of all this is the debate of the responsibility a blogger may or may not have toward what they review. While we all have the right to state our experience, what we do say has an affect on the bottom line for someone. This is true of all things, but we can see this more immediately for restaurants, I think.
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#81 JeanneCake

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 11:53 AM

And, after reading a few of their reviews, they come across as so whiningly self-important that I seriously doubt the original claims about the phone call.


From the Guardian quoting Marcus Wareing:

"I felt I could call them because we have spoken before - we then had a private conversation which I am saddened to see has now been posted."

MW was given the opportunity to respond and didn't refute the CC's claims - he was just "saddened" to see it posted. Just wanted to point that out.


It was a private conversation. CC should have asked his permission or notified him prior or during the call that they would make this public. He is under no obligation to respond to inquiries regarding a private conversation. With the way the CC people are behaving, who knows what they would do with his response?!

It served them well, to get their 15 minutes of fame. We don't know what was said during that private call so we are in no position to start wondering about why he was "saddened" - he doesn't need to refute anything, just like the CC isn't refuting their claims regarding what they posted (they had said they would address the issues raised in this thread, but so far have not).

#82 PhilD

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 12:40 PM

The tide on The Guardian thread is about 98% against them. The view of food obsessives vs the view of the real (okay, Guardianista) world?


Bertie - I think that has more to do with the average Guardian reader thinking anyone spending over £20 on a meal has too much money and that those who spend £600 will be first up against the wall come the revolution.

However it is nice to see previous eGullet contributors find gainful employment with WoM and it is good they use the board for inspiration.

Personally I think we need a lot more of these impassioned debates - good to see a bit of life and activity for a change.

#83 jenc

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 02:20 PM

We don't know what was said during that private call so we are in no position to start wondering about why he was "saddened" - he doesn't need to refute anything, just like the CC isn't refuting their claims regarding what they posted (they had said they would address the issues raised in this thread, but so far have not).


well, I wasn't wondering why he was "saddened" - just trying to point out there wasn't a reason for BertieWooster to doubt the original claims of the phone call (I read that as: the phone call didn't happen, so apologies if that is incorrect) since MW admitted that it had taken place.

If the doubt was placed on what was said, well, he hasn't denied what The CC posted. That is all.

He is under no obligation to respond to inquiries regarding a private conversation.


No, he's not, but he did (to the Guardian). And it has furthered the debate :) I see his answer as being post-damage damage control.
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#84 MrsCC

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 02:03 PM

I must apologise for not following up as I had said I would. The media picked up on this and we did not want to further stoke the fire.

We posted our last review about MW because we felt it honest to do so. I posted the information about the call because I was angry. I thought it would be of interest to other foodies but naively I never thought it would be of interest to the press.

If Marcus had engaged with us on the phone in a conversation rather than a one way shouting match then this would not have happened. I trust both parties have learned from this. I know I have.
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#85 prasantrin

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 03:50 PM

When MW says he's saddened the phone call was made public, I would guess he really means he's saddened it was made public because it embarrassed him. We all do and say things we regret when we're angry. Had the issue not been made public, perhaps he would have called with an apology. Now he might be too embarrassed and/or too proud to offer any regrets.

Question to Mrs. CC--would you return to the restaurant (assuming you were allowed)?

#86 paul o' vendange

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 04:02 PM

I guess I remain puzzled as I don't find this a complicated thing. I should think anyone would be flabbergasted that a private conversation was made public, and once that line was betrayed, not sure what incentive would be in place to continue the conversation, since privacy wasn't honored in the first place (in fact, quite the opposite - at least a nominal publicizing, for reasons hashed over throughout the above, before a potential 100's of 1000's).

Less to do with whatever the nature of the conversation, and more to do with publically outing that private conversation in the first place, in my opinion. This is beyond the other issues raised in the thread, which I won't revisit.

Edited by paul o' vendange, 09 November 2010 - 04:15 PM.

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#87 JeanneCake

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 04:09 PM

I must apologise for not following up as I had said I would. The media picked up on this and we did not want to further stoke the fire.

We posted our last review about MW because we felt it honest to do so. I posted the information about the call because I was angry. I thought it would be of interest to other foodies but naively I never thought it would be of interest to the press.

If Marcus had engaged with us on the phone in a conversation rather than a one way shouting match then this would not have happened. I trust both parties have learned from this. I know I have.



So it's ok for you to be angry and post about a private conversation - but MW doesn't get the same courtesy? I am also appalled that you would take that step (of escalating matters and making a private call public); in anger we do and say things we cannot later take back.

Let's be clear about things: This would not have happened if you had never posted about the call.

#88 MrsCC

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 04:17 PM

When MW says he's saddened the phone call was made public, I would guess he really means he's saddened it was made public because it embarrassed him. We all do and say things we regret when we're angry. Had the issue not been made public, perhaps he would have called with an apology. Now he might be too embarrassed and/or too proud to offer any regrets.

Question to Mrs. CC--would you return to the restaurant (assuming you were allowed)?


Never. We would have before his phone call but not now.
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#89 MrsCC

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 04:21 PM

Actually, that is not true. I think we would have moved on
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#90 Stephen W

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 05:57 AM

The media picked up on this ...

Funny that. I wonder how it happened?

...but naively I never thought it would be of interest to the press.

Really? This tweet to Jay Rayner and this one to Giles Coren would seem to indicate otherwise.