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MrsCC

Top Chef calls to rant about negative comments

93 posts in this topic

You may have seen my recent post about Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley. Today I received a phone call from Marcus Wareing himself. He ranted at myself and my husband for close to 30 minutes. Why I did not hang up the phone I am not sure. Actually, I do know why. I felt bad for him. He was obviously upset. Having thought about this, we are actually now quite angry with his phone call. We paid £600 for our meal and if we want to say we didn't enjoy the evening then we have every right to do so. Marcus Wareing was actually abusive in his call. At one point he said, "how would you like me to write about you and your appearance and the way you dress?" He came back to this several times. He was angry because he felt that we should not have posted a negative view of his restaurant on our blog http://www.thecriticalcouple.com/1/post/2010/10/marcus-wareing-at-the-berkeley-a-very-disappointing-service.html What are your thoughts?

Mrs. CC


The Critical Couple

http://www.thecriticalcouple.com/

Twitter @CriticalCouple

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Completely out of order in my opinion. I presume he wasn't concerned by the glowing report you gave him in the first 2 reviews on your site?

If he had rang to offer any reasons why your visit wasn't up to scratch, or wanted to ask you to publish his response on the manner, then that would be fine, although you wouldn't have been obliged to do so.

To behave in that manner is unprofessional and childish.


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Thank you for your reply. We tried to point out the positive comments made even in the recent post but he would not listen to a word. He just yelled. I told him I had a three page letter to him in my handbag that I was about to post to go into our experience in more detail. He said, "don't post it". In my view, this is not how one retains business. We have been to MW 7 times in less than 11 months, it mattered not.


The Critical Couple

http://www.thecriticalcouple.com/

Twitter @CriticalCouple

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I agree with Carlovski. If he was taking the time to bother calling, he should have used this opportunity to find out why you felt you had a bad meal and turned this into something more positive.

Instead, like many who are short-sighted, he decided to rant and turn this into a negative PR moment. Though... it's still publicity for him, I guess! I assume, their CRM is where he got your number, so that would have told him exactly how many times you had visited. So it makes his actions seem to be especially hmn.. I dunno.. unclassy...


Edited by jenc (log)

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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Maybe he should spend more time training his staff rather than calling you. Oh well, from all accounts it sounds like the Marcus Wearing experience isn't as good as what is still being produced at Royal Hospital Road, or indeed, at Le Gav', where they treat you like you deserve being a paying customer!.

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Hmmm. I shallbe Devils Advocate, I think.

Not by agreeing that what appears to have been a display of great rudeness is acceptable. Clearly it is not. And it is even less acceptable when directed at a paying customer. I have no time for rudeness, even when on occasions I'm guilty of it myself.

That said, folk who write blogs, review restaurants professionally or, simply, post on internet discussion boards are putting their views into the public domain. And, therefore, shouldnt be surprised if the object of their criticism isnt always well chuffed about what's been written.


John Hartley

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I totally agree with you. I have no problem with Marcus being unhappy with our post but I do feel it was a poor business decision on his part. Not wishing to over-inflate our power but merely to say that his ethos on this subject might be reflective of a bigger problem.


The Critical Couple

http://www.thecriticalcouple.com/

Twitter @CriticalCouple

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I'd never even heard of the guy before this, and now I have a very low opinion of him and his business. Streisand Effect?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Genuine rudeness on his part, IMHO. That is one of the issues with doing business in the computer age. Sorry, but that is a risk you take. You had every right to post what you did.


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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merely to say that his ethos on this subject might be reflective of a bigger problem.

We north westerners can be touchy buggers at times.


John Hartley

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I'll be devil's advocate too ...

Again - no excuses for his rudeness and abuse - totally out of order. But ... If I was in your situation - ie. having had many good meals somewhere, followed by one not so good experience, I would have written to them about my concerns before making my thoughts so public. If it happened again, or if their response had been inadequate, then I would feel justified in making my opinions known more widely.

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I think that is a very valid point of view. One which Marcus shares and certainly the reason for his irate phone call to me. We did discuss it with the maitre d before leaving but he failed to address any of our concerns.


The Critical Couple

http://www.thecriticalcouple.com/

Twitter @CriticalCouple

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When I ate at Marcus Wareing's restaurant, it was an experience of a lifetime. The front of house staff was terrific and Chef Wareing took time to give me a kitchen tour and leisurely chat about what he was acomplishing.

I am certainly sorry you had a bad experience. I am also sorry you have decided to pillory Chef Wareing. Too many of us writing opinions (mine included) are from sources that may or may not be credible. One question that cannot be answered is where does a Chef Wareing go to have his reputation restored if there were misunderstandings or exagerations?


"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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I read your critical review of your meal at Marcus Wearing and I don't understand what was so terrible that you posted such a scathing review of your meal and received such a personal call from the chef. Are you such a good customer or friend of the house, that M. Wearing might have taken your review as a personal insult.

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In what way would that qualify as a "scathing review"? It was actually pretty mild, and well worded.

If one wants to clear their name, they would probably want to contact you in a rational manner, at which point most people would update their original criticism to include additional information.

Completely out of line to call you personally with such an attitude, in my opinion. If you want people to love your restaurant every single time, then make sure they have a superior experience, every single time.


Edited by Rick Mogstad (log)

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I have a real concern here that arises out of an unrelated incident. We really love our veterinarian. I won't go into why, but trust me, he has proven his worth consistantly over the years. So one day I found a site where people rate and review businesses. So out of curiousity I looked up our vet. He had three glowing reviews (from long time clients) of the sort we would give him. But also three harsh criticisms from people who were there just once or twice. I feel that those could be chalked up to, say, a bad day, a misunderstanding, or even unrealistic expectations. But these reviews will be there forever and people looking at that page will get the impression that only 50% of his clients are satisfied.

Having been there, as you say, six times previously, your expectations were well set and not met. But it appears that this is your third post in seven visits (plus, at least, this thread on eG). I, for one, would not like to be blogged about every other time a customer visited. Eventually, there's going to be a negative post.

If the restaurant was truly going down the tube, I think that would be fair game. But a single experience does not demonstrate this.

It appears that this was a night when the top people were not there. And perhaps because of this they may been having an even worse night than you were having. Ettiquete-wise, I think the thing to do would have been to send Marcus a note describing what was wrong with your experience so that he could work on it. If it was about money for value, perhaps he could have fixed that with a full or partial refund. If it was just a bad night, I don't see how anyone is served by posting this experience publicly. This latest post will probably attract more eyeballs than your previous positive posts combined.

I don't agree with how Marcus handled this situation, but can understand his frustration.

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I have been following this post with interest. We had a similar experiance a few years ago at Le Manoir, it was a Sunday evening, Blanc was away and a lot of things were wrong. I was there to review the restaurant for a magazine. When I told my editor of the experiance he said write it as it was. I did, when he received my copy he decided to send it to the restaurant before publication, for comment. They thanked him for his consideration - agreed with most of the comments, said it was alright to publish, and invited me back for a complimentry evening. We had a superb meal, the Sommelier - who I had complained of had gone and I put a rider to my original article.

The whole incident was handled in a business like manner.

Some of these celeb. chefs need to grow up, they have been feted and have much too high an opinion of their own importance.

Of course he was a footballer like Ramsay! :biggrin:


Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

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I have a real concern here that arises out of an unrelated incident. We really love our veterinarian. I won't go into why, but trust me, he has proven his worth consistantly over the years. So one day I found a site where people rate and review businesses. So out of curiousity I looked up our vet. He had three glowing reviews (from long time clients) of the sort we would give him. But also three harsh criticisms from people who were there just once or twice. I feel that those could be chalked up to, say, a bad day, a misunderstanding, or even unrealistic expectations. But these reviews will be there forever and people looking at that page will get the impression that only 50% of his clients are satisfied.

Having been there, as you say, six times previously, your expectations were well set and not met. But it appears that this is your third post in seven visits (plus, at least, this thread on eG). I, for one, would not like to be blogged about every other time a customer visited. Eventually, there's going to be a negative post.

If the restaurant was truly going down the tube, I think that would be fair game. But a single experience does not demonstrate this.

It appears that this was a night when the top people were not there. And perhaps because of this they may been having an even worse night than you were having. Ettiquete-wise, I think the thing to do would have been to send Marcus a note describing what was wrong with your experience so that he could work on it. If it was about money for value, perhaps he could have fixed that with a full or partial refund. If it was just a bad night, I don't see how anyone is served by posting this experience publicly. This latest post will probably attract more eyeballs than your previous positive posts combined.

I don't agree with how Marcus handled this situation, but can understand his frustration.

I run a small business myself, not related to the food industry, and I understand that a review based on a single bad experience, whether it's because of an off night, unrealistic expectations or some other reason can be very upsetting and unfair. That said, I don't think that a reviewer, particularly a blogger, has any obligation to communicate their problems to the management separately. In my eyes, the only obligation a reviewer has is to describe things as accurately as possible - because their principal obligation is not to the business, but to other customers. In short, I don't think Mrs. CC had any reason to do anything other than what she did.

I also think how someone handles criticism says a lot about them and how they run their business. Taking it as an opportunity to fix problems they were not aware of would tell me they'd probably make an effort to put things right with me if I had a problem in their establishment. Conversely, blowing up at an unsatisfied reviewer tells me the response I'd get if I found a fly in the soup would probably not be something I'd enjoy.

Frankly I find Wearing's response incredibly childish and unprofessional, and it left a much worse impression of the establishment than any one negative review could have.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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  • Restaurant gets negative review from long term, loyal customer. Who has a history of good reviews i.e. not a troll
  • Reviewer complains on the night (as CC did) and gets the brush off
  • Chef rings up and berates the guest
  • Poor review compounded

or

  • Restaurant gets negative review etc.
  • Restaurant apologises on the night, chef rings valued and loyal client and offers a free meal
  • Reviewer re-visits and updates review
  • Chef turns a PR disaster into a victory

For me this is marketing 101, I had a dire meal last week at a restaurant whose chef has a similar media profile and career. I complained at the end. They thanked me for my criticism, and immediately invited me to return as their guest "to experience the restaurant in the way it should have been". I won't write about it until (and if) I take up the offer. Whilst I may not have had a great meal, I can't fault their response, and the brand is stronger (IMO) as a result.

So one day I found a site where people rate and review businesses. So out of curiousity I looked up our vet. He had three glowing reviews (from long time clients) of the sort we would give him. But also three harsh criticisms from people who were there just once or twice. I feel that those could be chalked up to, say, a bad day, a misunderstanding, or even unrealistic expectations. But these reviews will be there forever and people looking at that page will get the impression that only 50% of his clients are satisfied.

IndyRob, the classic issue with any site. Isn't the key to read other reviews from these people and assess their competence. There will always be trolls. I don't see the OP as a troll, a bit of research shows they have a good pedigree of reviews and balanced opinions.

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I guess any publicity is good publicity if you run a blog...unfortunately not if you run a restaurant


Edited by codheadred (log)

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Obviously this was mishandled. Badly.

BUT, what strikes me as out of bounds is calling out members of staff by name, taking it down to a very personal level about who was there, who was not, who left, who was travelling etc... I'm surprised you didn't name the server who commented on the strong flavor!

I too have a strong relationship with a very high end restaurant, and although I know 80% of the staff by name, I would NEVER make individual reference to any of them. The Chef's name is on the door, it's ALL his fault - no need to throw others under the bus, that's not your job - it's his.

In short, I think there are tasteful ways to mention your issues, but I don't think you took that route.

Was it wrong of the chef to berate you? 110%. 120%! But when you chose to take it to such a personal level against his staff, I'm guessing he takes it personal as well.

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Reading the OP's characterization, I was sort of shocked that something like this could happen- that any successful businessperson could react like that.

But after reading the offending post, I question the circumstances a bit. The last paragraph seems to suggest that the diners and Chef Wareing had something of a personal relationship. Chef Wareing has "been so generous sharing his time and ideas with us over the past year" (perhaps inaccurately) indicates some level of personal relationship beyond occasional customer. The level of familiarity indicated by the use of the chef's first name supports this. If this is in fact the case, it seems that the OP wants it both ways: a friendly relationship with the chef, close enough to brag about, but not close enough that they should feel it inappropriate to publicly criticize his business.

My question, thus, is which is it? Is this a standard regular-customer relationship, in which it's perfectly acceptable to walk away unhappy and complain to third parties? Or, rather, is this a relationship as close as the post makes it seem, i.e., one that should have made the poster first consider the damage that would be done to a friendship before publicly criticizing? In the latter case, Chef Wareing's angry call seems a much more reasonable response to what happened. Not a great response, mind you, because he clearly failed to recognize that his "friends" (acquaintances?)would so quickly stab him in the back, but more reasonable.


Edited by MikeHartnett (log)

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