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In Paris A Chef Criticized- François Simon


hughw
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I was fascinated by this article in the NY Times today about François Simon. I don't read French so I'm not directly familar with his reviews, but he seems like an enfant terrible. I'm curious what others think about being known to the chef. Gael Greene in New York took very amusing and extensive steps to disguise herself, not always sucessfully. It seems to me that for all of us, we want to know how we will be treated and fed, not what a chef is capable of when he goes out to please a favorite client or an influential critic.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/dining/1...sq=simon&st=cse

Edited by hughw (log)
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At the breakfast table I wondered what sort of discussion this article would take; Would Elaine Sciolino be seen as too negative?

Would M. Simon be seen as too snooty and deserving his comeuppence from diners?

Would the anonymity/pay for meals issues resurface?

Would we go through the whole Antoine Ego thing again?

I'm someone who, especially because of the need to "digest" Simon's pieces at least twice a week, is often perplexed by his prose, which at times uses ancient words and at times such trendy ones I have to seek counsel. On the other hand, he at least does stick his neck out and say Go, No Go, whether in code or plain text, whereas too many others are pitching their review(s) to an audience or seemingly non-committal.

As for anonymity and pay-per-meal, we've exhausted the latter subject but not the former: however, since Ms Sciolino gives his clothing away, his voice is clear on his hidden-camera bits and most sensible chefs have his picture posted, how anonymous is he? Sure, he "refuses" to attend awards dinners, "declines" to have his photo on his books and articles, and makes reservations and pays bills in other-than-his-name, but insiders know him.

An interesting man M. Simon and worthy of the "newspaper of record."

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I don't know if I'm disturbed or anything, but all in all, I've always found Simon quite lenient. I don't have actual examples to illustrate it however, so my point probably doesn't hold much weight...

Somehow, it's like when I used to read "Les Inrockuptibles" (French "trendy" culture magazine): there are other people who do the "new gems discovery" job better, I hate a lot of what he writes, but all in all, it's fun, and sometimes perfectly on point, so I enjoy reading him.

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After all those edgy to nasty quotes in the NY Times article I was anticipating an ogre of a reviewer.

I hunted down the English translation of his blog Simon Says. The first few blog bits (if a newspaper has articles and eGullet has threads - what does a blog present? Posts?) were rather admiring.

Seems a likable chap for a restaurant critic.

Edited to add: I just realized that not all of the blog blurbs are by Francois Simon - many are by members of "Simons Gang."

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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I was fascinated by this article in the NY Times today about François Simon. I don't read French so I'm not directly familar with his reviews,  but he seems like an enfant terrible. I'm curious what others think about being known to the chef. Gael Greene in New York took very amusing and extensive steps to disguise herself, not always sucessfully. It seems to me that for all of us, we want to know how we will be treated and fed, not what a chef is capable of when he goes out to please a favorite client or an influential critic.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/dining/1...sq=simon&st=cse

I know that Frank Bruni is easily recognized when he goes out and reviews restaurants. Jean Georges himself pointed Bruni out to me at the bar at Jean Georges. In addition, the managers of restaurants often contact their competition regarding Bruni's aliases, etc.

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He's smart enough to cut through the superficial and get to the heart of the matter. And he pays his bills. And he's not always incognito.. I think a lot of people don't like his flair, but for me, he's one of the most enjoyable critics to read.

I was fascinated by this article in the NY Times today about François Simon. I don't read French so I'm not directly familar with his reviews,  but he seems like an enfant terrible. I'm curious what others think about being known to the chef. Gael Greene in New York took very amusing and extensive steps to disguise herself, not always sucessfully. It seems to me that for all of us, we want to know how we will be treated and fed, not what a chef is capable of when he goes out to please a favorite client or an influential critic.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/dining/1...sq=simon&st=cse

Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Would the anonymity/pay for meals issues resurface?

Just after I wrote the above, I encountered the following in an article by Elizabeth Jensen in the NYT of December 28th 2008:

"Back in 1993, when Ruth Reichl was a new food critic for The New York Times, she famously reviewed the high-society restaurant Le Cirque from two perspectives: as an insider coddled with foie gras and majestically attentive service, and as “the unknown diner” shunted into the smoking section, treated with indifference bordering on contempt and even given raspberries a third the size of those she was offered when recognized on a later visit."

See also the Bill Buford/Mario Batali quote beneath my signature.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Would the anonymity/pay for meals issues resurface?

Just after I wrote the above, I encountered the following in an article by Elizabeth Jensen in the NYT of December 28th 2008:

"Back in 1993, when Ruth Reichl was a new food critic for The New York Times, she famously reviewed the high-society restaurant Le Cirque from two perspectives: as an insider coddled with foie gras and majestically attentive service, and as “the unknown diner” shunted into the smoking section, treated with indifference bordering on contempt and even given raspberries a third the size of those she was offered when recognized on a later visit."

See also the Bill Buford/Mario Batali quote beneath my signature.

John, You triggered my memory. It was Ruth Reichl with the varied disguises, not Gael Greene. She write a humerously on each disguise and her treatment in the book: Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

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