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Doug Psaltis

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#451 BeefCheeks

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 10:55 AM

will say that after this memoir, I wonder if there will be anything else that might be written now or in the future that has the power to cause such a tempest in a teapot.


Something along the lines of the dark and evil secrets of Julia and Paul Child and their chamber of horrors might fit the bill.

Just kidding.

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Not to stray off subject, and all kidding aside (if you are in fact kidding, Jason), does anyone know what happen to the Thornes after they wrote that famous piece about Julia?
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#452 BeefCheeks

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 11:30 AM

Hey Steve..if Doug is your friend and his brother your agent, you should have made that clear at the start...or recused yourself from the discussion.
Your defense of him is much misplaced as are your excuses for the very bad meal at Beard. The fault, dear Steven, lay not with the kitchen equipment but with the mindless creations of the chef whom seems to be taste-blind.

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Mimi,
What is your theory on why Psaltis keeps getting these plum jobs when he is "mindless" and "taste blind"? How is he hoodwinking all of these top chefs?

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I am wondering about that myself. Had I the time - and perhaps even if I don't - it might be worth researching. First stop would be at Country to taste the food there.
It is one thing for a chef to look good when he or she is following the style and precepts of an executive chef who sets the tone --i.e. Ducasse, Keller, etc. Quite another when he is given carte blanche to create on his and, God help us, freely express himself. That's where the rubber hits the road.

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OK folks, speaking as a both an author and an editor, I'm going to venture a wild guess as to how/why Psaltis did what he did (or didn't do), wrote what he wrote, and, perhaps, cooked what he cooked at the Beard dinner. I may admittedly be wrong.
First, the category heretofore known in the book biz as "Food/Memoir" has been reinvented recently as "Food Porn." And if we're going to be literal here, porn=sex=smut=making things seem much larger than they really are. 'Nuff said on that subject. Some poor marketing shlub at Psaltis' house possibly read the first draft of the manuscript and said, "there needs to be a lot more food smut in here." And hence, there is.
Two: sex and smut -- whether literal or figurative -- sell. Psaltis is a smart guy, and given that his brother is a literary agent, they know this. Assuming he honestly doesn't give a rat's behind who he talks trash on, doing this is a sure fire way to get gums flapping and tongues wagging. How many people have been following this thread and are now champing at the bit to read this thing for themselves? Probably a fair number. That translates into sales, publicity, and a nice earn out on the royalty statement. Old pr saying: there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Three: Taste is relative, both in dress and in food. Psaltis' head is clearly the size of a small planet, and rather than err on the side of taste (and safety), he cooked what is now purported to be one of the worst meals ever served at BH. Maybe he was having a bad night; it's entirely possible. Perhaps he bit off more than he could chew. It's even more likely given that his peers were going to be eating his food; he was front and center that night---not a sous chef. He should have played it safe.
As for Ms. Sheraton's comments: I suspect that she has seen more 15-minutes-of-famers running around our industry than she could shake a stick at, and has grown tired and bored of their shenanigans. I wouldn't dare to speak for her, but it takes a very brave woman to tell the truth in the face of popular (or in this case, not-so-popular) opinion.
BeefCheeks is an author, editor, and food journalist.
"The food was terrible. And such small portions...."
--Alvy Singer

#453 rocketman

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 12:04 PM

Hey Steve..if Doug is your friend and his brother your agent, you should have made that clear at the start...or recused yourself from the discussion.
Your defense of him is much misplaced as are your excuses for the very bad meal at Beard. The fault, dear Steven, lay not with the kitchen equipment but with the mindless creations of the chef whom seems to be taste-blind.

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Mimi,
What is your theory on why Psaltis keeps getting these plum jobs when he is "mindless" and "taste blind"? How is he hoodwinking all of these top chefs?

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I am wondering about that myself. Had I the time - and perhaps even if I don't - it might be worth researching. First stop would be at Country to taste the food there.
It is one thing for a chef to look good when he or she is following the style and precepts of an executive chef who sets the tone --i.e. Ducasse, Keller, etc. Quite another when he is given carte blanche to create on his and, God help us, freely express himself. That's where the rubber hits the road.

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OK folks, speaking as a both an author and an editor, I'm going to venture a wild guess as to how/why Psaltis did what he did (or didn't do), wrote what he wrote, and, perhaps, cooked what he cooked at the Beard dinner. I may admittedly be wrong.
First, the category heretofore known in the book biz as "Food/Memoir" has been reinvented recently as "Food Porn." And if we're going to be literal here, porn=sex=smut=making things seem much larger than they really are. 'Nuff said on that subject. Some poor marketing shlub at Psaltis' house possibly read the first draft of the manuscript and said, "there needs to be a lot more food smut in here." And hence, there is.
Two: sex and smut -- whether literal or figurative -- sell. Psaltis is a smart guy, and given that his brother is a literary agent, they know this. Assuming he honestly doesn't give a rat's behind who he talks trash on, doing this is a sure fire way to get gums flapping and tongues wagging. How many people have been following this thread and are now champing at the bit to read this thing for themselves? Probably a fair number. That translates into sales, publicity, and a nice earn out on the royalty statement. Old pr saying: there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Three: Taste is relative, both in dress and in food. Psaltis' head is clearly the size of a small planet, and rather than err on the side of taste (and safety), he cooked what is now purported to be one of the worst meals ever served at BH. Maybe he was having a bad night; it's entirely possible. Perhaps he bit off more than he could chew. It's even more likely given that his peers were going to be eating his food; he was front and center that night---not a sous chef. He should have played it safe.
As for Ms. Sheraton's comments: I suspect that she has seen more 15-minutes-of-famers running around our industry than she could shake a stick at, and has grown tired and bored of their shenanigans. I wouldn't dare to speak for her, but it takes a very brave woman to tell the truth in the face of popular (or in this case, not-so-popular) opinion.

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Beefcheecks,

Have you read the book. My guess is no from your post but strangly you seem to work for the same publisher. Just tell the truth here. No one will be upset with you but i feel like i now need to call people out as it is obvious you and many others have not read it. Remember, tell the truth.

Rocket

Edited by rocketman, 19 October 2005 - 12:06 PM.


#454 culinary bear

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:04 PM

Rocketman - Firstly, there's really no need to quote, on your post, the entirety of the post you're replying to, especially given that it's the one directly preceeding your post, and especially as it's over a page of text. Some would say this thread is long enough without having to scroll through everything four or more times.

Secondly, is it really, vitally important that anyone who ventures any sort of opinion on this thread has read the book? I haven't read the book, I don't think I particularly want to now, but there's more to the discussion than the book itself; it's raised all sorts of issues about journalistic integrity, policy and the mores of the reading public.

"Nyah, nyah, you haven't read the book, therefore you can't comment" is somewhat redolent of the schoolyard.
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#455 BeefCheeks

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:14 PM

Rocketman - Firstly, there's really no need to quote, on your post, the entirety of the post you're replying to, especially given that it's the one directly preceeding your post, and especially as it's over a page of text.  Some would say this thread is long enough without having to scroll through everything four or more times.

Secondly, is it really, vitally important that anyone who ventures any sort of opinion on this thread has read the book?  I haven't read the book, I don't think I particularly want to now, but there's more to the discussion than the book itself; it's raised all sorts of issues about journalistic integrity, policy and the mores of the reading public.

"Nyah, nyah, you haven't read the book, therefore you can't comment" is somewhat redolent of the schoolyard.

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Forgive me if I don't delete your comments, Rocketman and continue to attach them to my posting; they're priceless. The connection you make to my working for Psaltis' publisher is, to say the least, misguided; to say the most, it's hilarious. In fact, Random House is the umbrella under which at least 20 small publishers bring out wonderful books like Mr Psaltis'. But the bottom line here, really, is the issue of tale-telling or, rather, "tall" tale telling--neither of which is a seemly way to make a living as an adult. But seemly or not, it does sell a book. Good or bad, publicity works. Especially in the food business.

Beyond all this, I think that perhaps you are clearly taking my phrase "food porn" too literally; it's simply another way publishers describe the category of food memoir. With or without sex. Mr. Latte? Food porn. Gabrielle Hamilton's new book? Food porn. Appetite for Life? Food porn.

Edited by BeefCheeks, 19 October 2005 - 01:29 PM.

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#456 rocketman

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:31 PM

Rocketman - Firstly, there's really no need to quote, on your post, the entirety of the post you're replying to, especially given that it's the one directly preceeding your post, and especially as it's over a page of text.  Some would say this thread is long enough without having to scroll through everything four or more times.

Secondly, is it really, vitally important that anyone who ventures any sort of opinion on this thread has read the book?  I haven't read the book, I don't think I particularly want to now, but there's more to the discussion than the book itself; it's raised all sorts of issues about journalistic integrity, policy and the mores of the reading public.

"Nyah, nyah, you haven't read the book, therefore you can't comment" is somewhat redolent of the schoolyard.

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Actually this thread is about the book so, yes, i feel it is very important to have read it in order to criticize the author. As Ive been told quite sternly from Egullet, if you want to post on other topics like journalistic integrity, policy and the mores of the reading public start a new thread.

Forgive me if I don't delete your comments, Rocketman and continue to attach them to my posting; they're priceless. The connection you make to my working for Psaltis' publisher is, to say the least, misguided; to say the most, it's hilarious. In fact, Random House is the umbrella under which at least 20 small publishers bring out wonderful books like Mr Psaltis'. But the bottom line here, really, is the issue of tale-telling or, rather, "tall" tale telling--neither of which is a seemly way to make a living as an adult. But seemly or not, it does sell a book. Good or bad, publicity works. Especially in the food business.

Beyond all this, I think that perhaps you are clearly taking my phrase "food porn" too literally; it's simply another way publishers describe the category of food memoir. With or without sex. Mr. Latte? Food porn. Gabrielle Hamilton's new book? Food porn. Appetite for Life? Food porn.

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okay. Just answer the question.....did you read the book? After all, you had some pretty harsh words for someone you dont know and havent even read about.

#457 rocketman

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:37 PM

Forgive me if I don't delete your comments, Rocketman and continue to attach them to my posting; they're priceless. The connection you make to my working for Psaltis' publisher is, to say the least, misguided; to say the most, it's hilarious.  In fact, Random House is the umbrella under which at least 20 small publishers bring out wonderful books like Mr Psaltis'. But the bottom line here, really, is the issue of tale-telling or, rather, "tall" tale telling--neither of which is a seemly way to make a living as an adult. But seemly or not, it does sell a book. Good or bad, publicity works.  Especially in the food business.

Beyond all this, I think that perhaps you are clearly taking my phrase "food porn" too literally; it's simply another way publishers describe the category of food memoir. With or without sex.  Mr. Latte? Food porn. Gabrielle Hamilton's new book? Food porn.  Appetite for Life? Food porn.

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Seems to me you are saying this is a "tall tale" otherwise known as a lie? Are you saying the book is a lie and doubleday and its parent randomhouse (your company) knowingly put out false material.

So, since you call it a lie, I have only one question you still have not answered:

HAVE YOU READ THE BOOK

RM

#458 BeefCheeks

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:40 PM

First, how are you sure that I don't know him? And second, yes, I have indeed read the book--in bound galley form long before it ever hit the airwaves.
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#459 BeefCheeks

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:51 PM

In no way, shape or form do I believe that Doubleday knowingly published false material; but there does indeed seem to be a gap between what Mr Psaltis claims he did, and what his former co-workers say he did. The truth may indeed have been stretched, but certainly not by the publisher.
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#460 Marlene

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 02:15 PM

This seems to be a good time to remind members of the agreement that we don't tolerate personal attacks on the forums. We've had to delete several posts over the last few minutes. People may differ in their opinions but we expect everyone to do so without name calling and inuendo.

Beefcheeks has answered the questions rocketman has asked and this thread is full of comments about comments Psaltis' former coworkers have made disputing what is in the book. Time to move on.
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#461 rocketman

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 08:16 AM

First, how are you sure that I don't know him? And second, yes, I have indeed read the book--in bound galley form long before it ever hit the airwaves.

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Beefcheeks,

As and editor and author (by the way that is how you begin your post) then signing it stating your an editor for Random House.......how could I not think you speaking on their behalf?

Further, you are insinuating you know Psaltis. Please tell us what Psaltis is like as a human being as opposed to a chef. I think that would be an interesting post people would like to read.

RM

#462 rocketman

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 08:24 AM

In no way, shape or form do I believe that Doubleday knowingly published false material; but there does indeed seem to be a gap between what Mr Psaltis claims he did, and what his former co-workers say he did. The truth may indeed have been stretched, but certainly not by the publisher.

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No one has challenged anything in the book except for the state of the TFL walk in. TK has commented that while Psaltis was there (by no fault of his own) things were not as they usually are at TFL. Maybe he was even referring to the walk in, it unclear but could be.

People have challenged things that they feel shouldve been put in but have been ommitted from the book. As far as I can tell what got in the book and what may have been left out may be a function of editing or confindentiality agreements (as one poster stated)....but as you have pointed out, im not familiar with the book industry.

Please refer us to some evidence of your quote that says there was a

"gap between what Mr Psaltis claims he did, and what his former co-workers say he did"

What co workers are you referring to?

RM

#463 rich

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 08:33 AM

Just to ask a question that combines two of the current major threads, do you think Doug Psaltis and John Mariani are good freinds?
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#464 skye

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 08:32 PM

I realize that this thread is about a million miles long, and pretty much beaten into the ground, but I read the book recently, and know something about all of the chefs that he variously praises and slanders, and my two big questions are-

how can you have a 15 year career and leave most or every job on bad or dubious terms? why would you?

and if this isn't the case, why didn't any of Psaltis's former chefs blurb the book? I know that if I came out with a public statement, book or article of any kind about my cooking history, I would first run it by the chefs whom I was going to mention heavily, and that if they didn't think it was honorable I'd kill it. And if they did think it was honorable and accurate, they'd go to the ends of the earth to defend my credibility. I just haven't heard a peep out of Bouley, Urena, Ducasse or his chefs, Nish, etc. If Psaltis was really such a great guy, wouldn't they be backing him up?

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#465 rocketman

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 08:00 AM

I realize that this thread is about a million miles long, and pretty much beaten into the ground, but I read the book recently, and know something about all of the chefs that he variously praises and slanders, and my two big questions are-

how can you have a 15 year career and leave most or every job on bad or dubious terms?  why would you?

and if this isn't the case, why didn't any of Psaltis's former chefs blurb the book?  I know that if I came out with a public statement, book or article of any kind about my cooking history, I would first run it by the chefs whom I was going to mention heavily, and that if they didn't think it was honorable I'd kill it.  And if they did think it was honorable and accurate, they'd go to the ends of the earth to defend my credibility.  I just haven't heard a peep out of Bouley, Urena, Ducasse or his chefs, Nish, etc.  If Psaltis was really such a great guy, wouldn't they be backing him up?

And,  a lot of people can cook.  Lots and lots and lots.  But Chefs are one in a million.

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I can think of a number of reasons why his former chef's may not have blurbed the book. Let me give you some:

1. The publisher may have wanted names that the whole courtry knows as opposed to chefs that only NY'ers and food people are familiar with. Lets face it, the whole world knows Jaques Pepin and Batali through TV. I dont think the masses are nearly as familiar with David Bouley and Wayne Nish.

2. As you mention there are a number of "barbs" to go with the many praises in the book. Most people who are barbed (even the slightest bit) are not going to give a ringing endorsement and tell people to run out and buy the book to read about an embarrassing moment that happened under their watch.

3. I dont know much about the book industry but it would seem to me to be strange for a significant character in any book to blurb that book. It would seem to self serving. Maybe some of the media and book people can comment on this point

4. You mention he left every job under bad circumstances. Ive read the book a few times and Im not sure I agree with this comment. Lets list the different place and see what the book said:

- Panama Hatties - If i remember correctly, Psaltis left this job to go to NYC, the place he felt he wanted to "make it" as a chef. He put in something like 3 years at PH and was looking to move his career foward. Certainly not a bad ending here, no?

- Bouley - Left to go to March. Where in the book did it say he left on dubious terms? If I remember, at the time Psaltis left, Bouley was renovating. Maybe its a simple need for money or to trade up to what Psaltis thought would be a great learning expirience. Where is the dubious part here?

- March - Left to go back to Bouley if I remember correcly which shorlty thereafter recevied four stars. Seems to me to be strange that Bouley would take him back if he left on such "dubious" terms.

- Unamed (now i guess people say this is Blue Hill) - Obviously some creative differeces here. Certainly left seemingly on dubious terms.

- Chello - If i remember, Psaltis only spent a month there (as he was offered the job at ADNY which i dont think anyone would pass on) and LT was happy for him (at least that is what it said in the book.

- ADNY - AD chose him to open mix so did not leave ANDY dubiously.

- MIX - Obviously some issues here but there have been issues with every Chowdrow establishment that is not just a concept but real food. Mix is now closed in NY so the problems were obvoulsy much greater than anything Psaltis would or couldve done. If I remember, Ducasse offered Psaltis the opportunity to work in Europe for Ducasse so seemingly no hard feelings between them.

TFL - Too well documented here to go over but as mentioned by many TK said things were pretty screwed up at TFL during Psaltis's time and not by Psaltis's doing.

Country - Did GZ not get any references here. Seems to me he would have called some of these chefs you mention and either he got good references or GZ or took a real risk. My guess is that Psaltis was given good references.

Not sure if i left anything out so feel free to correct me but after writing it all down i see one (maybe two) places he left on, as you say "dubious" terms. Please explain your comment and give some facts to back it up.

RM

#466 rancho_gordo

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 08:31 AM

TFL - Too well documented here to go over but as mentioned by many TK said things were pretty screwed up at TFL during Psaltis's time and not by Psaltis's doing.

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I'm not sure Keller would agree that things were "screwed up". Or that having his employees getting in fights didn't add to the problems.
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#467 rocketman

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 08:55 AM

TFL - Too well documented here to go over but as mentioned by many TK said things were pretty screwed up at TFL during Psaltis's time and not by Psaltis's doing.

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I'm not sure Keller would agree that things were "screwed up". Or that having his employees getting in fights didn't add to the problems.

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Rancho,

See link to Mercury News article below. He certainly is not saying things were peachy at TFL during Psaltis's time. I think he actually uses the words a "very difficult time" but check for yourself. I didnt make this stuff up.


Further, i think the "fight" you mentioned was actually a lot less than a full blown fist fight (as you seeminly make it) which no one on this board has contradicted.

Enjoy......


http://www.mercuryne...od/12761049.htm

#468 rancho_gordo

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 09:06 AM

Rancho,

See link to Mercury News article below.  He certainly is not saying things were peachy at TFL during Psaltis's time.  I think he actually uses the words a "very difficult time" but check for yourself.  I didnt make this stuff up.


Further, i think the "fight" you mentioned was actually a lot less than a full blown fist fight (as you seeminly make it) which no one on this board has contradicted. 

Enjoy......


http://www.mercuryne...od/12761049.htm

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Very difficult and screwed up are two different environments. I can handle VD. In fact, some people thrive on it. Some people rise to the occasion. Some people snap.

I didn't say fist fight. I said fight. If two employees are fighting/fueding/bickering to the point of a slap, and one is supposed to be the sous chef, it can add to a very difficult situation.
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#469 Dave the Cook

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 09:22 AM

This topic is animated enough without using exaggeration to counter exaggeration. Let's stick to facts and opinions, please.

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#470 Carrot Top

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 09:55 AM

Facts and opinions are what were in the book.

#471 rocketman

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 11:37 AM

Rancho,

See link to Mercury News article below.  He certainly is not saying things were peachy at TFL during Psaltis's time.   I think he actually uses the words a "very difficult time" but check for yourself.  I didnt make this stuff up.


Further, i think the "fight" you mentioned was actually a lot less than a full blown fist fight (as you seeminly make it) which no one on this board has contradicted. 

Enjoy......


http://www.mercuryne...od/12761049.htm

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Very difficult and screwed up are two different environments. I can handle VD. In fact, some people thrive on it. Some people rise to the occasion. Some people snap.

I didn't say fist fight. I said fight. If two employees are fighting/fueding/bickering to the point of a slap, and one is supposed to be the sous chef, it can add to a very difficult situation.

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I took the term "very difficult" to mean that things were indeed not running very smoothy. One could look at the quote and say since it is not a denial of what is in the book, it may in fact be an admission. Maybe screwed up was too harsh of a term (though I dont think so) but I think you looking at the trees and not the forest.

I imagine TK is not in the dark about the books comments (which having read the book you know are not that out of line....ive read the chapter a dozen times and still dont see what everyone is up in arms about) and if he was so upset and Psaltis was so wrong i would have expected him to comment on that to some extent. The bottom line is when confronted with the issue of the book, TK did not say "Psaltis is an idiot", he did not say "i fired Psaltis" and he did not say "Psaltis is getting into fights with everyone at my place". He did say that "it was a very difficult time" which led to some credibility (in my opinion) of some of the stuff in the book.

I accept your point on the "fight".....can certaintly make a "very difficult situation" worse.

Just out of curiostiy, were you aware of the TK quote from the article when you wrote your first post?

RM

#472 rancho_gordo

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 11:58 AM

Just out of curiostiy, were you aware of the TK quote from the article when you wrote your first post?

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Yes. And I personally delivered to the famous walk in during that period!!!
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#473 rocketman

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 12:28 PM

Just out of curiostiy, were you aware of the TK quote from the article when you wrote your first post?

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Yes. And I personally delivered to the famous walk in during that period!!!

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Cool!

So you must of met psaltis there? Please tell the forum what he was like as a customer of yours and as a human being. I think everyone would be interested.

RM

#474 rancho_gordo

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 01:17 PM

Just out of curiostiy, were you aware of the TK quote from the article when you wrote your first post?

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Yes. And I personally delivered to the famous walk in during that period!!!

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Cool!

So you must of met psaltis there? Please tell the forum what he was like as a customer of yours and as a human being. I think everyone would be interested.

RM

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Never saw him once!
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#475 Mimi Sheraton

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 06:31 AM

Anyone have comments on Bruni's Diner's Journal, re: Cafe Country..or is it Country Cafe? Odd that after so much talk about the book and the man, there's has been no blogging on the food and the place..if I have missed something, as I often do, I apologize in advance and hope to be directed to pertinent comments.

#476 Marlene

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 06:37 AM

There are links to several discussions in this post
Marlene
cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.
Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

#477 MichBill

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 11:29 AM

There was an interesting radio interview with Doug Psaltis on the Restaurant Guys Radio the other day. He comes off as not an especially likeable guy.

Here is the link to listen to the interview link

and since I am not sure if I am doing this correctly here it is spelled out

http://restaurantguy...asp?show_id=106

#478 *Deborah*

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 11:37 AM

Steve Parker loses me off the bat, talking about Doug's recent book, The Soul of a Chef.
Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

#479 wkl

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 11:49 AM

the interviewers certainly aren't pulling any punches.

#480 rocketman

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 12:49 PM

There was an interesting radio interview with Doug Psaltis on the Restaurant Guys Radio the other day.  He comes off as not an especially likeable guy. 

Here is the link to listen to the interview  link

and since I am not sure if I am doing this correctly here it is spelled out

http://restaurantguy...asp?show_id=106

View Post



I thought Psaltis, for a young thirty year old defended himself quite well with all the negatively positioned questions he was aksed. There are plenty of good things to discuss in the book but these two guys decided, for whatever reason, to only discuss the negative. He did not back down and that is probably why he is critisized on this board. He comes off as knowing his business and being somewhat set in the way he works (aka cocky).....for whatever reason that irks people on this board......it gives him some credibility with me. Most great athletes and businessmen are cocky egomaniacs....why shouldnt chefs be.

I thought it incredibly funny that the one guy had such a pet peeve with the giving notice isssues. I have a feeling its because his restaurant has had 8 head chefs (most culinary school trained) over the last 10 years. My question to the restaurant guys if your out there is:

If you are so respectful to the chef's that work for you (this is what you said in the interview), why do they all leave so quickly?

RM





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