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Rick Bayless and Burger King - Part 1

576 posts in this topic

Mostly, at this point, I think it's just about inertia -- inertia that could easily be reversed by consumer awareness and perspective (something Bayless is now doing his best to chip away at).

I disagree with the assumption that because Bayless made this deal he will no longer work toward his previously stated goals. Even if one concedes (for sake of this discussion) that his BK ad is both a "sell out" and an act of "self-betrayal" that doesn't necessarily equal a complete abandonment of his mission. It only affects how some people perceive him, not his ability to work toward his goals (and, if he has truly abandonned his goals, then the BK deal is not inconsistent after all). Perhaps Bayless' reputation isn't as important to him as getting his message across is. This deal may have felt like a big pay day and an opportunity in Bayless' mind.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that a huge part of Bayless' work towards his previously stated goals is evangelizing and publicity. In this kind of work, his reputation and how people perceive him is of primary concern and directly affects his ability to work towards those goals. If people who might otherwise be receptive to his evangelism are less inclined to listen to him because of his BK endorsement -- and it does not strike me as a reach to suggest that many of the people who might be so inclined aren't exactly admirers of Burger King -- then his ability to influence people towards his philosophies may be seriously inhibited.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Chefs Collaborative is preparing a statement regarding our position on these types of endorsements and we'll have something out soon.  As your discussion string indicates, this is a very complicated issue.

Michel, on this point I must respectfully and strongly disagree. This is not a complicated issue. If your organization makes it complicated, it will do so at the peril of its reputation.

Rick Bayless betrayed you. There's nothing complicated about it. Your choice is simple and clear: censure the disloyal bastard before he and Burger King drag your reputation down with them. Make clear that his behavior is ideologically and ethically incompatible with the goals of the organization and that he has to make a choice: he either needs to disavow and retract his recent actions, or he needs to step down and out of the organization immediately.

I speak from one perspective -- I am not an ideological adherent of the Chefs Collaborative philosophy -- but it should be sobering to the organization that people from so many perspectives (including strong CC supporters like tanabutler) are of the opinion that this is an open-and-shut case of hypocrisy. It's difficult for an organization to face up to betrayal from within and muster the resolve to act on it, and it's extra difficult for a group like yours which is so accustomed to accentuating the positive and favors cooperation over confrontation. I assure you, however, that there is no room for principled compromise on this point. The way CC will retain its respectability -- among both its friends and friendly opponents -- is by acting decisively and unapologetically.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I disagree with the assumption that because Bayless made this deal he will no longer work toward his previously stated goals.

Because I've never made that assumption, you'll forgive me for not addressing your post. I'm simply talking about the ad, on its own terms, as well as Bayless's totally disingenuous follow-up comments.

You said he was now doing his best to "chip away" at consumer awareness and perception. I don't see how his doing the ad equals that. I think he'll continue to do good work. Beyond that, I'm just ranting (and admittedly splitting hairs). :smile:

Sorry to have misinterpreted your statement. :wink:

=R=


Edited by ronnie_suburban (log)

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Ronnie, again, all you have to do is take the ad on its own terms: there's Rick shopping in a market for fresh produce, making it all sound so tantalizing; cut to Rick eating a Burger King sandwich and having the gall to represent it as a valid surrogate for all that fresh wholesome stuff. That is a very direct message that is detrimental to -- nay, chips away at -- the kind of consumer awareness and perception that will help improve fast food. A step in the wrong direction, if you will.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I don't see how you could possibly think that Bayless' BK advert will "open his message up to a potentially larger audience."  People who haven't or wouldn't hear of him won't care, and people who might be predisposed to appreciating his philosophies will likely be disenchanted with his apparent two-faced behavior.

I do hope you’re wrong on this point, but I mentioned my experience with BK’s LeRoy Neiman posters during the ’76 Olympics because it did open up my worldview on contemporary art, and the move was greeted with similar outrage in by the high minded in artistic quarters at the time. Bayless has reached many through his restaurants, through PBS, and his books. The BK deal enables him to reach more, and it is a palatable sandwich. Stepping in the right direction is a good thing for a company as large and as influential as Burger King. I see no losers in the Bayless Burger King deal, and tremendous upside potential.

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Maybe he is the new Clapton...

This note's for you!


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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So I would appreciate it if you'd either stop implying that I have a moral or political objection to fast food, or help me to understand how anything I've said has implied such an objection. Because if I have said it or implied it, I'd like to correct myself.

Steven,

It seems as if you can't "punish" Bayless or Eliot, you want to punish yourself. You're OK. It's just the emphasis on sellout/sin that's reminiscent of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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I do hope you’re wrong on this point, but I mentioned my experience with BK’s LeRoy Neiman posters during the ’76 Olympics because it did open up my worldview on contemporary art, and the move was greeted with similar outrage in by the high minded in artistic quarters at the time. Bayless has reached many through his restaurants, through PBS, and his books.

Perhaps Dali is a better modern art example what with his "limited" editions, etc. Neiman is about one small step above Thomas Kinkade in my book.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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BAYLESS IS GOD!!!

My mind drifts back to a 1969 CSNY concert at the Greek Theater when kids in the crowd were yelling "Stills for President!" People cheered and laughed. Who ever dreamed that someone like Arnold could be Governor? :rolleyes:


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Perhaps Dali is a better modern art example what with his "limited" editions, etc.  Neiman is about one small step above Thomas Kinkade in my book.

But that step was in the right direction. Some will discover RB's earlier work, and then Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters. Others will just have something that's a step above the candy bars they've been eating in the place of meals.

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Rick Bayless betrayed you. There's nothing complicated about it. Your choice is simple and clear: censure the disloyal bastard before he and Burger King drag your reputation down with them. Make clear that his behavior is ideologically and ethically incompatible with the goals of the organization and that he has to make a choice: he either needs to disavow and retract his recent actions, or he needs to step down and out of the organization immediately.

I speak from one perspective -- I am not an ideological adherent of the Chefs Collaborative philosophy -- but it should be sobering to the organization that people from so many perspectives (including strong CC supporters like tanabutler) are of the opinion that this is an open-and-shut case of hypocrisy. It's difficult for an organization to face up to betrayal from within and muster the resolve to act on it, and it's extra difficult for a group like yours which is so accustomed to accentuating the positive and favors cooperation over confrontation. I assure you, however, that there is no room for principled compromise on this point. The way CC will retain its respectability -- among both its friends and friendly opponents -- is by acting decisively and unapologetically.

I agree with Steven on this one. Its not like Bayless is just a regular member of the organization where his actions are of limited importance -- he's an officer and member of the Board of Overseers. His endorsement of Burger King puts the entire reputation of Chefs Collaborative at risk and is divergent with the Mission Statement that Bayless assisted in authoring.


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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And others will believe this:

I am genuinely impressed with the honesty of flavor and texture in the

salsa, the diversity of ingredients (when’s the last time you saw poblano

chiles on a fast-food menu?), the freshness of the roasted peppers and

onions (they are delivered fresh to each restaurant—not frozen), and the

crispy integrity of the bread’s crust. I found the flame-grilled flavor

satisfying and the portion-size on target—especially for every-day eating.

On target, too, are the 350 calories and 5 grams of fat in each sandwich.

I'm disappointed -- though not surprised -- that several intelligent and articulate eGulleters have been so easily manipulated and coopted by the Burger King/Bayless marketing ploy and propaganda effort. The effectiveness of the campaign at this level of the market does not speak well for the way in which an average consumer will process the information.

"Some will discover RB's earlier work." Of course that's an absurd scenario -- what are they going to do, look it up in the Museum of Broadcasting? -- but even if they do they are going to work from the starting point that Rick Bayless says this crap sandwich from Burger King is a great substitute for buying fresh ingredients in the market. As for, "and then Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters," are you saying that's a good thing or a bad thing, Eliot? "Others will just have something that's a step above the candy bars they've been eating in the place of meals." I'm not sure where you got the candy-bar concept, but Burger King doesn't compete against candy bars. Burger King competes primarily against other restaurants, particularly other fast-food restaurants but also the kinds of restaurants where people might go to get a good meal.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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no losers in the Bayless Burger King deal, and tremendous upside potential.

Losers:

- Anybody who eats the sandwich, minus the .0001% who upgrade from candy bars

- Anybody who believes the propaganda about the sandwich

- Anybody who advocates fresh foods over processed garbage

- Anybody who ever trusted Rick Bayless to be faithful to an agreed-upon set of principles

Tremendous upside potential for:

- Burger King's profitability

- Rick Bayless's pocketbook


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I mentioned my experience with BK’s LeRoy Neiman posters during the ’76 Olympics because it did open up my worldview on contemporary art, and the move was greeted with similar outrage in by the high minded in artistic quarters at the time. Bayless has reached many through his restaurants, through PBS, and his books. The BK deal enables him to reach more, and it is a palatable sandwich.

LeRoy Neiman created LeRoy Neiman's posters. Rick Bayless had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of this "palatable" sandwich. Exposing people to LeRoy Neiman's posters exposes them to LeRoy Neiman's work. Exposing people to Burger King's sandwich does not expose them to Rick Bayless's work. The only exposure is to Rick Bayless in a television advertisement, in which the theme is "forget about all this fresh produce; Burger King gives it all to you in this palatable sandwich."


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I confess I haven't yet been to a BK because walking to one is a project and a half...not to mention I've been trapped in the office this entire week.

I promise though, really really promise to taste one soon and test the palate factor of this sandwich.

Is it possible to have this sandwich "my way"? Less salsa and more roasted poblanos?

Soba

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It's just the emphasis on sellout/sin that's reminiscent of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Only if you read several thousand words of 18th Century religious commentary into 21st Century message-board comments about Burger King. Bayless's hypocrisy and selling out are simple matters of him contradicting his own stated principles, not the principles of a religion that anyone else has imposed upon him. If it is a sin -- and the only time I ever used the word sin was in the completely different context of "deep-frying conceals a multitude of sins" -- it is a self-contained one without reference to God or morality. It is not, "a transgression of the law of God " (one definition from Merriam-Webster) but, rather, "an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible" (the applicable definition here, of a word that only the straw man has used to describe Bayless's actions anyway). You can try all you like to paint those who condemn Bayless as religiously motivated -- I'm sure Burger King will be thrilled that some volunteers have sprung up to champion the cause of the Santa Fe Fire Grilled Chicken Baguette; usually they have to pay people a lot of money to do their dirty work -- but most of us just think a (formerly) respectable chef shouldn't endorse a mediocre sandwich he didn't design and that goes against his stated principles.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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(I dream of the day I’ll be able to go into McDonald’s and have the interaction go something like this:

Me: I’ll take a quarter-pounder.

Them: Lamb, venison or beef?

Me: I think lamb, and some fries—what kind do you have?

Them: Taro, beet and potato.

Me: Taro sounds good—never had taro fries. What sizes do you offer?

Them: Sorry, only our normal small size—we’re an everyday place. A sparkling juice to drink?

Me: Lamb, taro fries—no I think I’ll have a glass of Zinfandel.)

Bayless wrote this on his My Webpage. We’re slowly getting there.

These changes are indeed coming about, and now McDonald’s is hiring Oprah’s trainer, introducing diet menu’s and much to my chagrin eliminating the beef broth dipping step from their French Fries.

Steve, I grew up when Folgers Crystals were “secretly replaced the fine coffee” in a high end restaurant :smile: ; when KFC took pride in the word “Fried,” and a McDonald’s apple pie was deep fried too :shock: . Tang was considered an alternative to orange juice :laugh: , and eggs were considered “a heart attack on a plate.” You couldn’t buy butter anywhere because margarine was considered healthier :wacko: . Hell, LaChoy was considered Chinese food :laugh: —“swing America.” We’re a long way from Steak’Ems, and Manwich, and Bayless has played a positive role. His more democratic turn should be given a chance. I’m reaching out again, Steve. We’re winning. Food is getting better for the general public. Isn’t that the goal?

I do hope the Chef’s Collaborative doesn’t embarrass itself with a public censure or ostracism of Bayless.

What will there position be? There’ll be fewer but better chefs? :smile:

PS. I'm slowly figuring out how to use the tags. The part that says "my webpage" is a link to RB's site and the quote of his fantasy exchange with McDonald's. It's food folks; let's lighten up.

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I confess I haven't yet been to a BK because walking to one is a project and a half...not to mention I've been trapped in the office this entire week.

I promise though, really really promise to taste one soon and test the palate factor of this sandwich.

You want an honest opinion? It's not the worst sandwich ever made by Burger King. Nor is it the best. Either way, its certainly VERY far from the best fast food sandwich. Any of several dozen other chains have better sandwiches which are not being pimped by a Celebrity Chef.

But really thats all irrelevent. Even if it was the single best product made by Burger King, its not up to the standards you'd expect given the reputation of this endorser. Even removing the "politics" of Bayless' public positioning on certain issues, it says something when somebody who's won a James Beard Award tells you that you can go and spend three and a half bucks for something a pimply teenager glops out of plastic bins, and yet still have a worthwhile experience.

It devalues the Beard Awards. It devalues the reputations of other Chefs who's endorsements of more serious endevours might be questioned going forward. It's like Ingmar Bergman making a commercial telling us how great a TV show "Friends" is. At least theoretically. Okay, maybe not Ingmar Bergman, but at least Mike Nichols.


Edited by jhlurie (log)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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It would be like The Rolling Stones saying that they'd like to jam with n'Sync.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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We’re winning. Food is getting better for the general public. Isn’t that the goal?

I don't know about "the goal" but one of my goals is to encourage people to judge food based on how it tastes. And in that regard the food at McDonald's and Burger King has gotten worse, not better, since you were a kid. This sandwich -- which is made from mostly frozen ingredients, contains a ton of additives, and isn't particularly good -- does nothing to reverse the trend. It's more of the same, but this time it comes with a cover story that includes a series of health claims and a bought-and-paid-for endorsement from a celebrity chef.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It would be like William Burroughs doing a Nike commercial.

William Burroughs is older than dirt. He can afford to sell out at 80 years old. Bayless still has some life left in him.

William Burroughs is dirt. He died in ’97.

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