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robert40

Doug Psaltis

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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.

Why would you find this something hard to believe? Maybe US law is more stringent in this sense, but I've heard first hand of several episodes of immediate dismissal here in Spain for (physical) fights in a kitchen during service.

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Fat Guy   

Because there's a big difference between a fistfight and a slap on the hand. One is something you fire people for; the other is something you demand an apology for.

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Because there's a big difference between a fistfight and a slap on the hand. One is something you fire people for; the other is something you demand an apology for.

IN California at least, I think if someone gets physical in any sense, they can bypass the whole HR, probation thing and show him the door.

Don't know what happened of course, but the big cheese should not be slapping the staff under any circumstances. Even if he's very, very upset!

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slkinsey   
Slap of a hand?

That's nothing compared to Ramsay.

That's what I was thinking. Unless it came to fisticuffs (and perhaps not even then) I can't imagine a restaurant firing someone for slapping a runner's hand off the pass.

Now, can I imagine that Psaltis was a bad fit for French Laundry, and that this caused some mutual dissatisfaction? Absolutely. Can I imagine that Psaltis' departure from French Laundry was mutually desired? Certainly. Can I imagine that the slapping incident was the beginning of the end, and a moment that led to this parting of the ways? Sure. Can I imagine that Psaltis had motivations for leaving this incident out of his book? Yes. But I can also imagine that people at French Laundry, people fiercely loyal to Keller and who have heavily bought into his unassailable sacred cow mystique, would spin the incident and Psaltis' departure in the opposite direction, and that the rumor mill would really get going. These are both natural and indeed expected reactions.

I'm quite sure that if Keller feels that Psaltis' book -- and surely he is aware of it -- is unfair to him and French Laundry, and if he feels that it is connected to this incident, or that the story needs to be clarified with a description of this incident (or whatever the hell it is that Mssrs. Bourdan and Ruhlman are getting after), he is perfectly capable of saying, "Doug Psaltis slapped a runner at French Laundry and I shitcanned him" or "I thought Psaltis was a bad, cocaine-addicted chef, and when he punched a porter in the face it gave me the perfect excuse to fire him" or whatever. Having friends of the house and/or employees making insinuations and spreading rumors is sleazy, and beneath someone of Keller's stature. Frankly, I hope he wouldn't approve.

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That's what I was thinking.  Unless it came to fisticuffs (and perhaps not even then) I can't imagine a restaurant firing someone for slapping a runner's hand off the pass.

I don't find it hard to imagine at all. As I pointed before (and I think FG agreed), it is not unheard of at all for people to get fired if they are involved in kitchen fights.

Now, can I imagine that Psaltis was a bad fit for French Laundry, and that this caused some mutual dissatisfaction?  Absolutely.  Can I imagine that Psaltis' departure from French Laundry was mutually desired?  Certainly.  Can I imagine that the slapping incident was the beginning of the end, and a moment that led to this parting of the ways? Sure.  Can I imagine that Psaltis had motivations for leaving this incident out of his book?  Yes.  But I can also imagine that people at French Laundry, people fiercely loyal to Keller and who have heavily bought into his unassailable sacred cow mystique, would spin the incident and Psaltis' departure in the opposite direction, and that the rumor mill would really get going.  These are both natural and indeed expected reactions.

In my opinion your argument is slightly misleading. You "can imagine" a number of situations Mr. Psaltis describes in his book, and you add to it something that comes indeed from your own imagination, thus puting a factual account of the events by an involved party and your own non-facts at the same level.

I'm quite sure that if Keller feels that Psaltis' book -- and surely he is aware of it -- is unfair to him and French Laundry, and if he feels that it is connected to this incident, or that the story needs to be clarified with a description of this incident (or whatever the hell it is that Mssrs. Bourdan and Ruhlman are getting after), he is perfectly capable of saying, "Doug Psaltis slapped a runner at French Laundry and I shitcanned him" or "I thought Psaltis was a bad, cocaine-addicted chef, and when he punched a porter in the face it gave me the perfect excuse to fire him" or whatever.  Having friends of the house and/or employees making insinuations and spreading rumors is sleazy, and beneath someone of Keller's stature.  Frankly, I hope he wouldn't approve.

Again, your argument seems misleading to me. The fact that Mr.Bourdain and Mr.Ruhlman express their opinions here about Mr.Psaltis, based on information they apparently have, is, as far as the first hand information in this thread goes, not related at all to the opinions or PR maneuvers Mr.Keller might be involved in, yet you seem to imply that they are.

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bergerka   

Disclaimer: I haven't read the book, and I don't know Thomas Keller, although I'm dying to eat at Per Se. I have met Doug Psaltis probably twice and talked to him briefly.

However, it occurs to me that this could be a case of one incident seen from different perspectives, no? For example, I have a former friend, to whom I no longer speak (and vice versa). Were you to ask the two of us why we no longer speak, my version would most certainly put her in a not-so-good light...and I am quite certain the reverse is true as well. Isn't it possible that this is no more than that kind of situation?

I do agree that whoever's insisting there is "more to the story" needs to quit being mysterious and spill already.

and with that, I'm off to join divalasvegas in the cheap seats.

K

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dvs   

sorry to be so juvenile, but...

drama.gif

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WHT   
Because there's a big difference between a fistfight and a slap on the hand. One is something you fire people for; the other is something you demand an apology for.

A lot of places have zero tolerance for any form of violence and knowing how California law is it would not surprise me that this is the case. There are a few other HR areas that I have personally seen this to apply; Weapons, drugs and stealing. It is seen by some as a way of curbing law suites of many types from occurring.

Your analogy being a prime example of why some companies adopt zero tolerance policies. In most states showing you have a written policy can head off lots of legal situations.

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robert40   

My God People!! Has anybody ever thought of the 'POSSIBILITY' that those who may have or may not have another story are waiting for the 'OK' from French Laundry management before they disclose personnel business?

Of coarse that may or may not ever come.

Just a thought that sound's feasible to me.

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Marlene   
My God People!! Has anybody ever thought of the 'POSSIBILITY' that those who may have or may not have another story are waiting for the 'OK' from French Laundry management before they disclose personnel business?

Of coarse that may or may not ever come.

Just a thought that sound's feasible to me.

That is entirely possible, however, one would also think that they would have obtained that ok before posting insinuations that they may never be "allowed" to back up.

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Fat Guy   

Yeah. Weapons, drugs, stealing . . . and slapping an obnoxious runner's hand off the pass. All of a kind.

Of course I think it was, as Doug Psaltis himself says, pretty damn stupid for him to slap that guy's hand. I think it was even stupider, as I'm sure he by now realizes, to leave it out of the book -- he'll surely pay for that in terms of credibility. That omission was a great gift to those who refuse to accept criticism of Keller and French Laundry -- they now have their (bad) excuse to write off everything Psaltis says.

But I've got to say, as between hand-slapping and character assassination, I consider the latter to be the greater sin.

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robert40   
My God People!! Has anybody ever thought of the 'POSSIBILITY' that those who may have or may not have another story are waiting for the 'OK' from French Laundry management before they disclose personnel business?

Of coarse that may or may not ever come.

Just a thought that sound's feasible to me.

That is entirely reasonable, however, one would also think that they would have obtained that ok before posting insinuations that they may never be "allowed" to back up.

Seemed to me the very first person that read between the line's was Doug himself.

Edited to add.

I don't recall anyone insinuating anything prior to Doug's post admitting a hand slapping incident. As a matter of fact we would not be having this conversation if he had not made that post.


Edited by robert40 (log)

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does the passion and anger inspired by psaltis' book not uncover a larger issue in the world of canonized chefs, 'our' closest thing to celebrities or papal personnel?

some are angry that keller has been 'slandered.' some feel psaltis has a right to tell his story. there is a clear rift between the handful of chefs who've risen to the level of food & wine in aspen guest chef/lecturer, for example, and the vast majority who toil in greater or lesser proximity to the star-power of said handful.

(this is not meant to pose a challenge to anyone's post, but possibly to get the whole thread relocated to the 'existential navel-gazing' section of egullet, if it hasn't already been moved there.)

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Bux   
Slap of a hand?

That's nothing compared to Ramsay.

That's what I was thinking. Unless it came to fisticuffs (and perhaps not even then) I can't imagine a restaurant firing someone for slapping a runner's hand off the pass.

When I accepted Doug's truth, I accepted it as I did each account in Roshomon. i have little doubt that there are other accounts, some of which may portray the move as somethig more than just a little unnecessary force. I have known restaurant employees to be fired for less than what would put you in the brig in army and with greater speed and no hearing. We live in a world
Now, can I imagine that Psaltis was a bad fit for French Laundry, and that this caused some mutual dissatisfaction?  Absolutely.  Can I imagine that Psaltis' departure from French Laundry was mutually desired?  Certainly.  Can I imagine that the slapping incident was the beginning of the end, and a moment that led to this parting of the ways? Sure.
Can you imagine it as the end of the beginning, or as a moment that culminated the parting of the ways? I can.
Can I imagine that Psaltis had motivations for leaving this incident out of his book?  Yes.  But I can also imagine that people at French Laundry, people fiercely loyal to Keller and who have heavily bought into his unassailable sacred cow mystique, would spin the incident and Psaltis' departure in the opposite direction, and that the rumor mill would really get going.  These are both natural and indeed expected reactions.
I can believe people will be selfserving in what they see, not only in what they say, but this notion of Keller as a sacred cow seems a misreading of the reason he's respected in the first place. If the man is untouchable, can you imagine it may be because he deserves the respect he's earned. I daresay Michael (Ruhlman) has a reputation as a journalist to protect, as much as he has a friendship with Keller, and his writing has earned him a reputation of trust.
I'm quite sure that if Keller feels that Psaltis' book -- and surely he is aware of it -- is unfair to him and French Laundry, and if he feels that it is connected to this incident, or that the story needs to be clarified with a description of this incident (or whatever the hell it is that Mssrs. Bourdan and Ruhlman are getting after), he is perfectly capable of saying, "Doug Psaltis slapped a runner at French Laundry and I shitcanned him" or "I thought Psaltis was a bad, cocaine-addicted chef, and when he punched a porter in the face it gave me the perfect excuse to fire him" or whatever.  Having friends of the house and/or employees making insinuations and spreading rumors is sleazy, and beneath someone of Keller's stature.  Frankly, I hope he wouldn't approve.

He probably doesn't and I supsect he'd be just as happy not to have anyone appear to fight his battle, but the concensus I read and not necessarily from those who know Keller is that it would be silly for him to sully himself in relation to what's likely not to be nearly as important a book as some make out. Of course horse races are easier to predict than how people will ultimately react. That's why I thought Tony was on target in his first post and while I understand where the innuendos are coming from, I suspect they don't help either. The simple fact is that whatever negatives we might learn about this or any other incident, or anything about the Psaltis character that's not positive, may untimately hurt Keller if it questions why he put his trust in the wrong person in the first place.

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Pan   
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.[...]

That's very surprising. You've never been a teacher, right? Teachers get fired for much less than that, and I have no doubt that if I ever slapped someone, I'd be fired. I gather the corporate world is a little different from academia? You mean no-one doing office work would get fired for slapping someone? Really? Granted that kitchens may be different, but you made a pretty broad statement there.

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Touching someone is the kiss of death. Your gone, period. It's called battery, as in Assault and Battery.

"A battery is the willful or intentional touching of a person against that person’s will by another person, or by an object or substance put in motion by that other person. Please note that an offensive touching can constitute a battery even if it does not cause injury, and could not reasonably be expected to cause injury. A defendant who emphatically pokes the plaintiff in the chest with his index finger to emphasize a point may be culpable for battery (although the damages award that results may well be nominal). A defendant who spits on a plaintiff, even though there is little chance that the spitting will cause any injury other than to the plaintiff's dignity, has committed a battery".


Edited by winesonoma (log)

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Bux   
Yeah. Weapons, drugs, stealing . . . and slapping an obnoxious runner's hand off the pass. All of a kind.

Of course I think it was, as Doug Psaltis himself says, pretty damn stupid for him to slap that guy's hand. I think it was even stupider, as I'm sure he by now realizes, to leave it out of the book -- he'll surely pay for that in terms of credibility. That omission was a great gift to those who refuse to accept criticism of Keller and French Laundry -- they now have their (bad) excuse to write off everything Psaltis says.

But I've got to say, as between hand-slapping and character assassination, I consider the latter to be the greater sin.

Stupidity is not a sin, but mendacity may be. We're begining to uncover credibility lapses. First you'd have us believe criticism of Keller is to be trusted simply because Keller is so well respected and now we're asked to accept a loss of credibily as no reason to doubt the rest of Psaltis' story. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Other than your friendship and business dealings, do you have any reason to defend the honesty of either author? To put it another way, do you have a compelling argument why I should believe them or not supect it was a more psychotic incident that lead to his leaving the French Laundry. It seems more credible than a description of Keller's dirty walk-in. Quite frankly, I do have a problem with the authors' credibility.

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Marlene   

We briefly closed this thread last night to allow time for administrative review and to allow participants the opportunity to reflect. The Society has always been dedicated to the principles of free expression. But we have never allowed the forums to be used for spreading innuendo or unsubstantiated accusations.

We have re-opened the thread. A reminder of the User Agreement:

If you make factual statements, you represent that you have confirmed their truth. Statements of opinion are, of course, unrestricted, provided they comply with the rest of this policy..
Posts containing hearsay or innuendo will be deleted.

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This thread does have the feel of things getting blown out of useful proportions. I don’t know of anything truly horrible that Doug Psaltis did. On one level this is all a tempest in a teapot.

I haven’t wanted to say what I’ve heard because it is only that, something I’ve heard and only one side of the story. And even what I’ve heard scarcely deserves to be remarked on at all.

But given first that Psaltis published a factual book casting The French Laundry in a negative light, and second, that there seems to be of a rumor that he was in fact fired from the FL and did not leave on his own accord as he suggests in the book, I felt there was enough justification to ask Psaltis to comment. To say, True, false or I’ll let my book stand for itself.

If the rumor is true, that he was fired by The French Laundry, that is neither here nor there in and of itself. People get fired all the time. Keller’s been fired.

But to paint a distinctly negative picture of The French Laundry, and not reveal that he had been fired, well, if that were true, it would throw everything the guy wrote into question. His authority becomes spurious, the book becomes counterfeit. And it’s something that Psaltis and his co-author and the publisher clearly intend to profit from.

So, in my original post, I was asking for a comment for Psaltis if he wanted to clarify his side of the story, because there are so many sides to a story. The truth in writing means a lot to me. If he’s going to be a writer as well as a chef, I’d kind of like to know where he stands.

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bourdain   

First of all, I'd like to applaud winesoma for reminding us what any responsible employer knows--and has to keep in mind when dealing with situations like the one alluded to. The kind of potential liabilities and implied and specific responsibilities one has. I'm surprised--and this is coming from ME fer Chrissakes, an old and old school graduate of the pro-hazing lobby--by the assumption that ANY physical contact which might be construed as angry or menacing could or would be acceptable.

There IS a line never to be crossed. And Doug--if I understand his post correctly--has said he crossed it.

That being said: I am NOT suggesting that people don't buy his book or read it.

I obviously have serious doubts about the reliablity or gravity of some of the contents. Doug's apparent disingenuousness--and belated hang-out invite caution.

I'm not saying that whatever's been said or revealed here means that his account of a "messy walk-in" isn't true. . Or that one omission or evasive statement necessarily should lead directly to believing the rest a lie.

But the author has apparently been coy with us about his own failings--until pressed. That does--and should--be a factor in the reading of the book and evaluation of its contents.

"WHO is this guy?"

"WHO'S talking?"

When you write a a book titled "Seasoning of a Chef" it would have been helpful--and more honest for the reader to have been provided a more candid picture of the author and his "seasoning" process. Author, subjects, readers--and supporters--would have been better served.

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Osnav   

Thanks for reopening the thread.

This thread as been as interesting as Tony's, Michael's, Doug's and Steven's books. Tony has been great being Tony. Michael's posts were not quite his best nor most interesting(get some caffine in your system Michael and get back into the fray), Doug (he's opeing a restaurant so we have to cut him a little slack), and Steven has amply filled in as Doug's apologist (although a little whiny).

The supporting cast has been insightful (Bux, in particular).

This is why I love eGullet!

The bell has sounded, it's Round 2.

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Michael's posts were not quite his best nor most interesting(get some caffine in your system Michael and get back into the fray)

i'm staying purposefully undercaffeinated because I think this is serious, I'm not doing it for entertainment.

sheesh. everybody's a critic.

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pim   
and slapping an obnoxious runner's hand off the pass.

(emphasis mine)

If you are going to delete innuendos you might as well begin with this one.

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