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Trotter and Tramonto square off over Foie Gras


Osnav
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Well the New York Times had an op-ed piece on this today.  Pretty much sided with Trotter.  You can read it here - New York Times on line by free subscription.  Robyn

The piece was essentially written to defend Trotter's right to boycott foie gras. Would anyone here disagree with this "opinion"?

No mention was made of Trotter's childishly defensive remarks. The fact that he really hasn't given up foie completely is the real controversy here. Certainly he has every right to disagree with (and even dislike, for whatever reasons) a colleague. If he hadn't been so arrogant in trying to make his point, his arguments may have come off as something more than a schoolyard bully trying to retain his title of King of the Hill.

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The New York Times article basically said nothing and reported nothing -- all it said was "Charlie Trotter has stopped serving Foie Gras and California banned it". It said nothing of the issues on both sides, what the significance of it was, and what the contrasting opinions were. All in all, I'd say it was weak, and I'd even have to say it ignored the basic tenets of reporting -- who, what, when, where and WHY.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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The New York Times article basically said nothing and reported nothing -- all it said was "Charlie Trotter has stopped serving Foie Gras and California banned it". It said nothing of the issues on both sides, what the significance of it was, and what the contrasting opinions were. All in all, I'd say it was weak, and I'd even have to say it ignored the basic tenets of reporting -- who, what, when, where and WHY.

True. That piece aint an 'article', it is an 'editorial opinion'. Lawrence Downes penned an 'editorial opinion' which is nothing but the opinion of someone from the editorial team(diff from op-ed, opinion editorial which is usually sent in by a reader of the publication). Mark Caro's piece, as opposed to Lawrence Downes' opinion, is a news article based upon interviews and all that...

Yea.

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The New York Times article basically said nothing and reported nothing -- all it said was "Charlie Trotter has stopped serving Foie Gras and California banned it". It said nothing of the issues on both sides, what the significance of it was, and what the contrasting opinions were. All in all, I'd say it was weak, and I'd even have to say it ignored the basic tenets of reporting -- who, what, when, where and WHY.

my thoughts exactly. the writer chose not to talk about the charity dinner and what was on the menu - hard to believe he did not know about it as CT's being "outed" was in direct relation to that dinner

my personal favorite: "He says foie gras is cruel, but he could have also called it boring" -- because "cruel" and "boring" are interchangeable? the whole comment (swooning over spam/schmaltz, etc.) patronizing and condescending

but what do you expect of a writer who uses "we" rather than have the guts to say "I"? (isn't this an op-ed piece?) and who is it exactly - "we, the Times"? "we, more sophisticated diners, who consider fg 'cliche'? "me, myself and I"? pointless piece that misses the most important element

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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but what do you expect of a writer who uses "we" rather than have the guts to say "I"? (isn't this an op-ed piece?) and who is it exactly - "we, the Times"?  "we, more sophisticated diners, who consider fg 'cliche'?  "me, myself and I"?  pointless piece that misses the most important element

I think this will clear up certain misunderstandings about how editorials work:

An editorial is a statement or article by a news organization (generally a newspaper) that expresses an opinion rather than attempting to simply report news. Editorials are not written by the regular reporters; rather, they are collectively authored by a group of individuals called the editorial board. They represent the newspaper's official positions on issues. Editorials are almost always printed on their own page of the newspaper, and are always labeled as editorials (to avoid confusion with news coverage). They are often about current events or public controversies.

For newspapers, the Op-Ed is the page opposite the editorial page. It may contain letters to the editor or other opinion pieces.

source

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That's all well and good Faust, but as someone who writes an editorial opinion column for a major computer magazine every month, I can certainly say that "opinion" does not absolve you of editorial responsibility, part of which is to observe the generally accepted practice of at least reporting all the relevant sides of an issue, even if there is an inherent bias to the opinion. All journalism is "reporting" even though it may not be "investigative" in nature.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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this piece has a by-line, unlike other editorial on the page (which would have been collectively authored), so i don't see it as expressing the paper's official position.

although it does make me laugh to think of the Times' official position as: "He says foie gras is cruel, but he could have also called it boring - a cliché slurped by too many diners who, we suspect, would swoon just as easily over the velvety succulence of Spam or schmaltz on rye, if they were prohibitively priced and listed on the menu in French."

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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Opinion Journalism is a class of it's own. Think restaurant critics, movie reviews, sports commentries, humour/cartoonists etc. Sometimes commentries by individuals who control their own columns enjoy full freedom(and complete responsibility) can also print without adhereing to newsreporting standards(loosely read as they dont have to 'show both sides' as newsreporters do..and that is why newsreporting is a step up from opinion journalism where one has less responsibility/accountability and also less prestige..a good indicator is the placement of the said pieces in a newspaper..front pages are prestigious, but also serious responsibility)and it doesnt have to show 'both' sides.

For example: Mark Caro's piece was newsreporting.

John Kass'(here is the second 'opinion' based on Mark Caro's news article) two columns were opinions.

edited to add:One is free to view and judge opinions, be they editorial opinions or something else. However, these are industry standards and quite well trenched. Maybe someone will change how an editorial must deliver etc in the future. But this is how it works in the industry today, afaik.... That's all, folks.

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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I'm not sure I buy that argument completely. I write both opinion and technical/essay types of articles for Linux Magazine and eWeek, and I also write small restaurant opinion/review type peices for the New York Times. I've also done pure reporting for a number of computer journals. In all cases though, a thorough understanding of the background material and the facts are in order. Obviously, you are limited to how much you can say by how many words you are allotted -- a problem I have with the NYT "Quick Bites" I write for the Jersey section, which are frequently under 400 words, and you never know what ends up getting cut out in Galley -- so I have some compassion for someone who has to deal with those limitations. Still, this particular peice seemed very one-sided and irresponsible by the omission of the simple facts that Trotter has done many things which can be construed as hypocritical, never mind what he has said about Tramonto, which is actually quite irrelevant to the Foie Gras issue even though he comes off as a complete callous ass with his statements.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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I'm not sure I buy that argument completely. I write both opinion and technical/essay types of articles for Linux Magazine and eWeek, and I also write small restaurant opinion/review type peices for the New York Times. I've also done pure reporting for a number of computer journals. In all cases though, a thorough understanding of the background material and the facts are in order. Obviously, you are limited to how much you can say by how many words you are allotted -- a problem I have with the NYT "Quick Bites" I write for the Jersey section, which are frequently under 400 words, and you never know what ends up getting cut out in Galley  -- so I have some compassion for someone who has to deal with those limitations. Still, this particular peice seemed very one-sided and irresponsible by the omission of the simple facts that Trotter has done many things which can be construed as hypocritical, never mind what he has said about Tramonto, which is actually quite irrelevant to the Foie Gras issue even though he comes off as a complete ass in the process.

All I can say is that if thats how you feel..well..thats how you feel.

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OK--I have a confession:

I have never liked missionaries.  Practice your religion and go to Heaven.  Don't try to convert me from my religion. 

You don't want to eat/serve foie gras?  Great!  Don't do it.

Don't want to drop that lobster in the boiling water (after reading last year's Gourmet article on lobsters)?  No problem.

And if it's okay with you, I would like to make my own choices, too.

Thank you.

Thank you! You've voiced my opinion closely - this is just a start for the next thing down the road - foie gras is just the beginning! I don't want someone telling me what I can / can't , should/shouldn't eat. We don't eat items that are endangered or threatened - but the radicals who attack the producers like they did when they attacked the restaurant in Sonoma - are criminals - and should be treated as such - not encouraged by the passage of laws that support their agendas.

Live and learn. Die and get food. That's the Southern way.

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I have no idea why Trotter would stir up an issue by publicly talking (and arguing with other chefs) about his anti-foie gras stance. The most hilarious, self-serving statement by him regarding why he decided to break his silence is that he felt he had to, because he was getting asked about it so much, Puhleeeeeeze! His views aren't important. They become important when he airs them in public. Maybe he needs some attention. Was he not invited to be on ICA?

I understand the importance of publicity in this day and age. But there are ways to generate it without degenerating into a .... I'll stop here. I'll only add that Chef's make the worst Missionaries.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

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Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

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I have no idea why Trotter would stir up an issue by publicly talking (and arguing with other chefs) about his anti-foie gras stance. The most hilarious, self-serving statement by him regarding why he decided to break his silence is that he felt he had to, because he was getting asked about it so much, Puhleeeeeeze! His views aren't important. They become important when he airs them in public. Maybe he needs some attention. Was he not invited to be on ICA?

I understand the importance of publicity in this day and age. But there are ways to generate it without degenerating into a .... I'll stop here. I'll only add that Chef's make the worst Missionaries.

As Mark Caro mentioned earlier, the interview was requested by a journalist from Chicago Tribune. In fact...I believe it was mentioned during a conversation with Phil Vettel.

We have a saying back home...something about pinching a sleeping babe to make it wail so you can rock the baby to sleep.

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I'm really surprised at the Times editorial. Not so much by the writer's position--but how spectacularly uninformed and behind on the story he is.

"He kept quiet about it, but the conspicuous absence of foie gras from his menus led to rumors in the restaurant world, and he was outed last Tuesday in The Chicago Tribune."

Rumors? Ridiculous. Every chef and serious foodie--and (one would think) serious food writer in the country has known about Trotter's change of heart for years. He's spoken about it before. It's been written about before. And the anti-foie activists have done some public gloating on the subject. A total non-fact. Dramatic--but seemingly manufactured.

"Other chefs, perhaps fearing the unthinkable, have jumped all over Mr. Trotter, calling his gesture hypocritical grandstanding by a media hound (and author, so you know, of "Charlie Trotter's Meat and Game," with recipes like Foie Gras Five Ways and Sweet-and-Sour Braised Lettuce Soup With Foie Gras and Radishes)."

Uh..no. Most chefs only started jumping all over Trotter when he unloaded on Tramonto--and was then revealed to have served foie in his restaurant. He cooked with foie in the past? So what? He says he changed his views. And as much as many found that distasteful--or disagreed with his position--I think most chefs took him at his word. I certainly did.

"He says foie gras is cruel, but he could have also called it boring - a cliché slurped by too many diners who, we suspect, would swoon just as easily over the velvety succulence of Spam or schmaltz on rye, if they were prohibitively priced and listed on the menu in French. "

That makes for funny prose--an easy, elitist yuck--making fun of the rubes. But I seriously doubt the writer believes it and neither does anyone else serious about food.

And who the fuck is "we", anyway? It's a willfully (one would hope) ignorant piece; the author should fully own up to his opinions.

abourdain

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that piece really pissed me off too.  You really don't expect such soft-headed nonsense from the times.

As I read it I kept hearing the writer say, "Oh shit I have do a quicky about something I know nothing about and care even less about."

The closing sentence

By spurning an easy fix of fancy fat, Mr. Trotter is simply making his job a bit harder, and this man-eat-duck world a slightly kinder place. There is much to admire in that.

says it all about the writer's lethargy regarding fine dining in General.

Is the Times that desperate for filler, fluff pieces? Or are these desperate times for their writers?

Word to the writer. Quickies never quite f... oh forget it.

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that piece really pissed me off too.  You really don't expect such soft-headed nonsense from the times.

You've said exactly what I said above, but in a so much more effective way. Yes, soft-headed is a very good way to describe it.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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All the above being true--re: the Times piece--I do hear that the author's a really nice guy.

Let's hope that it was just a bad day at the office and that the Times gives this whole issue--particularly the Laurent Manrique backstory--a more incisive look.

To me, that's the real story. Not so much that the bad guys are winning the day, but HOW they've been winning it.

abourdain

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I'm really surprised at the Times editorial. Not so much by the writer's position--but how spectacularly uninformed and behind on the story he is.

Rumors? Ridiculous. Every chef and serious foodie--and (one would think) serious food writer in the country has known about Trotter's change of heart for years. He's spoken about it before. It's been written about before. And the anti-foie activists have done some public gloating on the subject. A total non-fact. Dramatic--but seemingly manufacture

Uh..no. Most chefs only started jumping all over Trotter when he unloaded on Tramonto--and was then revealed to have served foie in his restaurant. He cooked with foie in the past? So what? He says he changed his views. And as much as many found that distasteful--or disagreed with his position--I think most chefs took him at his word. I certainly did

That makes for funny prose--an easy, elitist  yuck--making fun of the rubes. But  I seriously doubt the writer believes it and neither does anyone else serious about food. 

And who the fuck is "we", anyway? It's a willfully (one would hope) ignorant piece; the author should fully own up to his opinions.

Ok, bourdain. If you feel that strongly about it, I am sure you'll pick up a pen and shoot a missive to the NYT. Aww..shucks! I know you will. For your comrades. By the strength of your convictions. For the love of everything 'good and decent', you should!

Afterall, this is exactly why the page opposite the editorials exists. For opinions about the editorials by the reading public.

On a related note, this was brought to my notice several hours ago.

The John Kass(of the Chi Trib) and Chef Trotter exchange.

But you're missing something.

"What is it?" Trotter asked, taking umbrage.

You don't have Kass' Beer Can Chicken on your menu. So how can you call this a fine restaurant?

"How is your Beer Can Chicken prepared?"

[..]

Then I explained to Trotter that he'd have to drink almost half a can of beer, insert it into a chicken's behind, and perch it on an indirectly heated charcoal grill. I even told him about the secret spice--Cavender's.

"OK, let me understand this," he said. "You expect me to insert a can of beer up into the cavity of a chicken and cook it?"

But of course, I said.

edited to add:

Let's hope that it was just a bad day at the office and that the Times gives this whole issue--particularly the Laurent Manrique backstory--a more incisive look.

To me, that's the real story. Not so much that the bad guys are winning the day, but HOW they've been winning it.

Explain this to me: How does a story about Charlie Trotter finding forcefeeding 'cruel' have anything to do with Chef Laurent Manrique being hounded by animal rights activists in California several months ago? Why is this the 'real issue'?

Again and again, we come back to the same issue even with the obvious lapse of logic and reason when it comes to making the connection between Trotter and Manrique. I simply do not get it.

Why?

Why are you trying so hard to make the connection between Manrique and Trotter?

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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It only gets better. Catch Mark Caro's column in today's (4/7/05) Tribune. Charlie is going to "open a can of whup-ass". Check it out.

T.B. you're quoted and the article references eGullet.

...and the beat goes on.

P.S. I hadn't finished the article when I posted the above. So I left out noting that they quoted Bux, too.

Bux's point of this being more about Chef vs. Chef civility rather than the foie argument was well made; but the article, of course, played on the foie debate because it is more sensational.

Edited by Osnav (log)

"the only thing we knew for sure about henry porter was that his name wasn't henry porter" : bob

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Here's a link to the story:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/chi...1,5324199.story

Charlie Trotter now says that using the words "dumb," "idiot" and "not the smartest guy on the block" to describe a rival chef -- before suggesting that the chef's liver be served up "as a little treat" -- is not generally his "M.O." when it comes to collegial disagreements.

"I'm not trying to hurt anybody, whether it's Chef [Rick] Tramonto or a foie gras farm or anybody else," Trotter said.

Nonetheless, Trotter isn't apologizing for his harsh statements made to support his opinion that the production of foie gras -- the enlarged liver of a duck or goose -- is too cruel for the dish to be served.

"You know what? If I hear something that I don't like, I will say whatever it takes, and I'll send a message," Trotter said. "If I have to use some sarcasm or open a can of whup-ass or do whatever, I'll do what I have to do."

There are also some letters to another Tribune writer available today:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/new...,4371872.column

--

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P.S.  I hadn't finished the article when I posted the above.  So I left out noting that they quoted Bux, too.

Bux's point of this being more about Chef vs. Chef civility rather than the foie argument was well made; but the article, of course, played on the foie debate because it is more sensational.

Here is Bux's quote:

To Robert Buxbaum, manager the eGullet site, the most interesting aspect of the foie gras flap has been the exposed underbelly of inter-chef dynamics.

"Chefs in London are noted for stepping out of the kitchen and arguing with diners on the floor, but that doesn't happen in New York or Chicago as far as I know," Buxbaum said. "Most chefs are respectful to other chefs, at least in public."

Two points, Bux:

first, Why are we speaking about chefs arguing with diners?

secondly, about 'chefs are respectful to other chefs, at least in public', I have to disagree. Books have been written with chefs mocking other chefs. A certain celebrity chef writer calling another celebrity television chef an 'ewok' was brought to my notice recently.

However, allow me to quote bourdain from the latest article links that keep piling in my inbox:

"He's easy to pick on," Bourdain said. "He's not exactly famous for his sense of humor. There is an element of schoolyard pile-on in this case, vicarious enjoyment of his embarrassment."

Indeed. In fact, bourdain had his flaming shot at Trotter several months ago. I just recd what might be an answer to my previous question to bourdain.

From Courier Mail

According to Bourdain, Trotter's vegetarian cookbook, Raw, written with Roxanne Klein, is the most evil book published since Mein Kampf. "It's an obscenely evil document," he tells those gathered to hear him speak at Brisbane's Restaurant II.

From Hartford advocate

Ask him about chef Charlie Trotter and the raw-food movement. You get classic bone-gnawing Bourdain: "I think after World War II, in the English-speaking world, there was this sort of Puritan idea or concept that taking too much pleasure in food led to bad character. That in some way if you enjoyed yourself at the table too much it would lead to the harder stuff. Like sex. I think the French and Italians understood, 'Yeah! It just led to sex!' And they were absolutely OK with that. But, you know, let's take Charlie Trotter for example. You know what's wrong with Charlie Trotter's food? He cooks like a guy who's never been fucked properly."

Food Fight via NY Observer. Restaurateur Charlie Trotter, whose unnamed seafood restaurant has yet to open in the Time Warner Center due to several postponements, endured the final blow of the food fight. "He has his waiters wear double-sided tape on their shoes so they’ll tidy up the carpet as they work," Mr. Bourdain revealed. "And the guy cooks like he’s never been fucked properly in his life."

I think the issue is more complex and is multi layered than just foie gras.

Play nice, boys.

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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