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robert40

Doug Psaltis

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Doug

Many thanks for coming in here. I know that Steven felt this was a hostile environment for you to come into, so I'm sure we're all pleased that you felt comfortable enough to post. Steven also felt that no-one had actually asked any questions for you to answer so here are a couple, both in relation to the book and more generally:

*What were your best moments at French Laundry?

*Do you think it was the right move, career-wise, to go to TFL?

*Given that slapping someone's hand isn't the end of the world, do you think some of the negativity around your book is unwarranted?

*What is the ethos behind Country? What type of environment will the restaurant be, what sort of food will you be serving?

*What were the different characteristics of working with Ducasse and Keller? Which did you feel you gained more from?

Many thanks again for posting here.

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I'd like to add my thanks for your contribution, Doug.

Just one question: Given that the French Laundry is Keller's restaurant, and that the menu is his creation, why were you surprised that your creative input was not enthusiastically received by the team there?

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Bux   

Tony was right on target with his Roshomon analogy. The reality of any situation is relative to the person reporting it. Nevertheless, Tony has to allow those who enjoy dissecting an issue and examining it some fun as well.

When I referred to the circumstances of Doug's leaving the French Laundry, I wasn't referring to any particular incident, but to everything that goes into making a job rewarding and an employee satisfactory to hi emplyer. Interestingly enough, I've been in the situation where I felt the need to leave a position precisely because it was both unrewarding and because I felt stymied and unable to accomplish anything. For some reason each time I tried to leave, I was made to fee more obligated to stay and the less I accomplished, the more praise I got. It was embarrassing and ultimately took some flare up to extricate myself from the situation.

I think Doug did us a favor by sharing what he did. Perhaps he also did himself a favor. At least he spoke of the incident in a way that makes it reasonable to believe he understands others will have seen it all happening differently. As Tony suggested earlier, life and history are perhaps, a fiction. We all believe what we see, but all to often, we fail to understand that we also see what we believe.

That takes me into the realm of noting that Fat Guy and Doug are friends, perhaps close friends and the Michael is Fat Guy's agent. Not so oddly, that's brought some criticism that we wouldn't have published these excerpts were such not the case.

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Fat Guy   

Doug, I currently consider you a friend but would be willing to consider you a close friend if you wanted to commit to taking that step in our relationship together with me. Would you do that with me, Doug? Would you take a chance? You too, Tony.

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I read the FL chapter in a bookstore the other day and found it compulsively readable. I’m a huge fan of chefs and cooks who write and encourage it in any way I can. I was also interested to read the blurbs by some of the great culinary lights of today, pepin, batali, trotter, recommending the book. And I look forward to reading the whole thing.

Subsequently I’ve listed to other accounts about Doug Psaltis’s time at The French Laundry--I've never met him--and I’m very curious now.

One of the great strengths of egullet is the integrity with which it is run. The internet has become a form of citizen journalism. As with print journalism, it will live or die by its integrity, honesty and impartiality (or at least full disclosure, when impartiality may be in question). I hope every one who posts on this site remembers that. And I encourage anyone who posts comments on this situation in particular to offer their name and affiliation if it is significant.

I am not part of the French Laundry company but have worked closely with Keller and many of his staff for the past eight years. As I’m sure is no surprise, I keep in touch.

I’d like to ask Doug Psaltis if we’re getting the whole story. Is there anything you’d like to add or offer? Now would be the time.


Edited by Michael Ruhlman (log)

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Fat Guy   
I’d like to ask Doug Psaltis if we’re getting the whole story.  Is there anything you’d like to add or offer?  Now would be the time.

Michael, if somebody asked you a question like that, would you answer it? "Now would be the time" sounds like what a police interrogator or prosecutor would say.

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Steven,

You're absolutely right. I apologize for that and apologize to Doug Psaltis. I didn't mean to be so accusatory. Objection sustained.

I have info that questions his story in a serious way--if it's true, it would throw all that he said into question.

It's all hearsay at this point. I would like to hear a response, though, so I'll rephrase:

Doug, is there anything substantial about your time at the French Laundry that would shed a clearer light on your particular experience there?

I honestly do apologize for the accusatory tone. Not justified. Part of the nature of this immediate format.

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bourdain   

For the record:

I would like to publicly eat my words. I regret my earlier, more measured comments on this board.

When you take on big game like Thomas Keller you better kill him with one clean shot--and from an unimpeachable position. A reminder of "who's talking" and "what kind of history" there might be would have been appropriate--especially when casually slagging one's betters. And slagging one's betters is something in which I have some experience.

The alleged "missing elements" of the Psaltis story throw a queasifying light on the other chapters.

I have serious reservations about Psaltis' earlier "limited hang-out" on this thread. Too little. Too late. And I don't buy it.

And I don't find Brother Ruhlman's question inappropriately prosecutorial. He is being, I believe, carefully carefully diplomatic.


Edited by bourdain (log)

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JPW   

I don't think that Michael had to apologize.

The nature of people is that the longer it takes Doug to respond to the questions raised, especially now that he has already posted in the thread, the more people will think that he has something to hide.

I saw it more as a piece of well-meaning advice.

However, Michael, now that you've mentioned other information, you know that people will be bugging you for the other side of the story.

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Fat Guy   

I guess I just don't understand why so many people aren't willing to post what they think they know, rather than get bogged down in all this innuendo. Michael and Tony, you obviously think you have information, so why not post it? I think it would be entirely appropriate for either of you to post the alleged facts of a conflicting account. However, it seems extremely uncool for you to be harping on Doug while refusing to say why.

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I don't want to make accusations or explicit queries in this public forum.

I'm disturbed by all of this. I strongly want to know what Psaltis has to say.

After he responds--if he wants to, if he has anything more to say--then I'll say what I can.

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robert40   

I have been a member of this site almost from the beginning, and anyone who knows me can attest that I avoid controversial topics like the plague.

Now looking in hindsight I wish I did not start this thread, but there is nothing I can do about it now.

My last comment is that I truly believe in my heart that if there is a impression that some are holding back it is out of respect for Thomas Keller, Steven Shaw, and all parties involved.

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Fat Guy   
I deeply regret blurbing a book whose veracity on some key points has been seriously (and to my satisfaction) called into question.

Tony, are you sure you blurbed the Psaltis book? I don't see a quote from you on the jacket. I see Pat Conroy, Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, Charlie Trotter, James Villas and Publishers Weekly.

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Fat Guy   

Tony, please don't retract my blurb! It still needs to go on the paperback!

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sammy   

Maybe brother Michael has him on retainer and he is just confused. :hmmm:

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bourdain   

Really!? Fantastic!

I know I got a galley--and wrote something for it (I'd thought). Then heard from a fan that it was on the book. Positively delighted to hear otherwise.

Guess that's what happens when you turn into a Blurb-O-Mat.

My feelings on the contents of the Psaltis book are unchanged--though I do feel a palpable sense of relief. Can't wait to bust Mario's balls.

Going back to edit my previous posts.

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Fat Guy   

Messrs. Ruhlman and Bourdain, with all due respect, this is beneath you. If you've got something, spill it. The implication that Psaltis is hiding something seems pretty dodgy when it's accompanied by "I don't want to make accusations or explicit queries in this public forum." Don't you realize you've already made a loud accusation in this public forum? I think it's only fair, at this point, to say what it is. Psaltis says he slapped a guy's hand. Was it really the guy's knee? If there are truly horrible revelations about Psaltis that have not yet come out, let's get them out here -- that's what eG Forums discussions are about. My desire to get the truth out outweighs my desire to defend my friend, but at this point there's nothing to respond to but innuendo.

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What a fascinating and enjoyable thread. And, no I'm not being sarcastic, I really mean it. BTW, the strong hint of testosterone in the air is positively intoxicating. I'd love to participate in a more substantive way but, being a girl, I don't think I have the anatomy to keep up.

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bourdain   

"After asking a few times, I slapped his hand away. It was stupid of me to allow myself to be baited into crossing that line, but to me it was a very light slap and when things calmed down I apologized for doing it and I meant it. Was it not the right thing to do, yes. But it was hardly the dramatic event it is being made out to be. I was several steps out the door when this happened, and this helped me to realize that I needed to get out of there."--Doug Psaltis

So, Shaw. You're comfortable with this account? Untroubled by the after-the-fact admission that well...yes..there might be a little bit of history there?

How about this line?

"And this helped me to realize that I needed to get out of there."

"Helped?" I'd think so. Most employers--hypothetically speaking of course, would have "helped" him right out the door.

They must be a really really understanding bunch out there in Napa. Of course, they're famous for tolerating that sort of behavior out there--aren't they?

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Fat Guy   

Tony, are the folks at French Laundry saying, in essence, that "Doug slapped the guy's hand and we fired him"? I would find that hard to believe, wouldn't you? I could see the HR apparatus swinging into action and putting an employee on notice that nothing of the sort will be tolerated. But fired? I've never worked for or represented a company that would outright fire somebody for that. And unless somebody can document the timeline -- that the incident happened on Psaltis's last night -- then it's hardly credible as anything but an after-the-fact explanation of Psaltis's departure, dredged up now that French Laundry has felt the sting of criticism.

More importantly, I would find it irrelevant. We already know about the incident. The spin -- was he forced out or did he leave; was the slap one of many reasons or a primary reason and from who's perspective -- seems incredibly trite beside the overblown innuendo.

Do I believe Psaltis was dissatisfied at French Laundry? Absolutely. I know he was, because from his first days out there I spoke to him on his cell phone pretty often. Probably ten calls in all. And he was saying the same things about it then that he says in his book.

Do I believe he told me everything, or that the book says everything, or that he says everything in his one post here on this topic? Of course not. It's not that book where the guy photographed everything he ate for a year. For all I know there was another incident that I don't know anything about -- if so I beg you say what you know because this is getting ridiculous. I'm sure the slapping incident caused the folks at French Laundry much consternation. But now it seems like it's being used as an excuse: Psaltis slapped a guy's hand, therefore our walk-in was never disorganized. Whatever.

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