Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chef vs. Critic: Internet Food Fight

January 20, 2011 11:45 am by: 9 Comments

Sauce is flying through the Internet airways this week between John Kessler of the AJC and Ron Eyester, chef owner of Rosebud and Angry Chef blogger for Creative Loafing. It all started Monday when Kessler posted an open letter to all chefs in Atlanta.

In his open letter to our city’s chefs, Kessler publicly criticized them for execution flaws and for serving food he claims is boring. He dished it out all wrapped up in 10-requests.

Eyester, Angry Chef blogger for Creative Loafing, quickly countered with a 7-course response. In his come back, Eyester criticized Kessler along with the AJC for publishing a lousy food section and for putting a lead critic (Kessler) on the beat whose face is well known all over town, he even threw out the idea that our local press might be equally to blame for the city’s recent culinary woes.

My Thoughts:
I believe Kessler — though arrogantly — did make some very valid points regarding the food being served by our city’s chefs. Frankly, it’s become so dull I’ve been driven to drink, literally (hence the name change), and I now spend most of my days eating at small ethnic hole-in-the-walls instead of our city’s so-called best restaurants. I understand it’s a business so I’m not recommending these exotic ingredients and/or flavors Kessler mentions in his letter need be incorporated into every dish on the menu, but fun nightly nuances here and there would go a long way — and would be greatly appreciated. I’ve been complaining about this very thing for so long now I’m blue in the face.

On the other side of the coin, Eyester made some great points as well. Why on earth would the AJC employ a lead dining critic whose face is widely known throughout the industry? I mean, it was the AJC themselves who willfully splashed his face all over the paper for the past five years. How could readers possibly believe they are getting a fair and accurate review knowing good and well that the critic has been handled with extra care? But then, there isn’t a single critic in town whose face isn’t known to most.

And yes, Ron, the AJC’s food section is struggling and the paper doesn’t hold up to other big city rags, but telling young chefs in this town who are reading your response that it’s okay to use the paper’s shortfalls as an excuse to serve boring food is totally unacceptable. Shame on you. I will say it again, please read carefully. I understand it’s a business so I’m not recommending these exotic ingredients and/or flavors Kessler mentions in his letter need be incorporated into every dish on the menu, but fun nightly nuances here and there would go a long way — and would be greatly appreciated.

A Resolution To This Food Fight
I suggest we dress the two up in nothing but g-strings, arm each with a single spatula, and let them roll around in a slippery puddle of pig fat. Winner takes all.

Chef vs. Critic: Internet Food Fight Reviewed by on . Sauce is flying through the Internet airways this week between John Kessler of the AJC and Ron Eyester, chef owner of Rosebud and Angry Chef blogger for Creativ Sauce is flying through the Internet airways this week between John Kessler of the AJC and Ron Eyester, chef owner of Rosebud and Angry Chef blogger for Creativ Rating: 0

Comments (9)

  • kimmie

    lol!!!!!!!!

  • Sammy

    thanks for the visual tom

  • Tom Maicon

    Anytime Sammy. ;)

  • FoodieB.

    Now that I would pay to see.

  • dealwithit

    Most people in Atlanta don’t know shit about food that’s why all our best chefs left town. Save your nuances for another city and deal with it, you live in Atlanta.

  • Lamar Thomas

    I thought it was a healthy exchange. Atlanta has been many things over the past 30 years. In the late 70s there were several restaurants that operated as true Haute Cuisine that is now missing because of labor costs. Nouvelle changed everything for good and bad. Today the trends do move much more towards replicating chains in the 1980s and early 1990s. Hence the beef burger fascination. On the good side more emphasis is on local produce and clean proteins.
    In terms of replicating tools of the enemy there is a lot of Stockholm Syndrome in food from what I have seen and tasted.
    When I began my apprenticeship I watched a Sous Chef get fired when he added beef broth to the 50 gallon stock kettle and said “Hans will never notice.” Hans heard and saw. That was the way it was in Atlanta at one time. Demand the real and eat where it is real, then we will see positive change.

  • Tom Maicon

    Thanks for chiming in, Lamar. I think the problem is southern nouvelle is getting boring, even if it is farm-to-table. Many of us are not eating at chef-driven restaurants nearly as much as we used to because we’re spending most of our time on Buford Highway where the flavors are more interesting. I just wish the chefs would incorporate those more interesting flavors into their own cooking and drop the tired “southern farm-to-table” thing — it doesn’t make me want to eat at your restaurant.

  • Chris Gatti

    I have been rolling this topic through my head since Ron sent me the link to this all when it happened, and I believe that despite the “understanding” that we as small business owners/restauranteurs are and have been trying to remain boyant (sp?) for the past couple of years. This industry, not unlike the rest of the economic world, it has been severely bruised. We are not dead, and many of us out there are actually experiencing pretty remarkable growth, and that stuff called air is again filling our lungs as we have all been holding our breaths for quite a while.

    What I believe John and Tom are not fully understanding is more of a business dynamic issue, a market adjustment, a process that we all had to wade through in order to survive. I cannot speak for ALL the chefs in Atlanta, and do not wish to, but just because things are only just beginning to look better, doesn’t mean that I personally will move forward with my business, not having learned many painful lessons of the past couple of years. I cannot act like we are back in the booming economic landscape or several years ago, whether I would like to or not, but the real life fact is that I have too many people, too many families who depend on my ability to make good thoughtful decisions about my business.

    To further this point, and speak of a huge culinary market, I recently spent time in NY and had meals at some of the “Big Spots”, chefs with pedigree’s that make us all feel a little small, and what I saw was exactly what I see going on here. I simply did not see the expensive ingredients, what I did see was very classic fundamental techniques, creative interpretation, and stellar execution. I am happy to report there was no foam, no “essence”, no powder, no liquid filled spheres of something that has no business being a liquid or a sphere. I experienced the dirt dwelling carrot transformed from a horse treat to something I won’t soon forget, a turnip that seemed reinvented but it was still a friggin’ turnip, a chunk of pork belly that was softer than butter, and crispier than a piece of lavash all at once. These are only a few components of only a few experiences, but even in the massive culinary markets the days of ultra high end ingredients are on hiatus…….for now.

    In defense of both Mr. Kessler and Mr. Maicon, the creativity, the technique, the surprise of execution is what should be and what is ruling the brigades in all kitchens worth mentioning, from Atlanta, to Napa, to NY, and if it is not, than that is a topic for those in your segment of the industry to raise with us, with or without our agreement. I will leave any and all direct “restaurant criticism” or “critique”, to the professionals, as I have zero interest in that.

    We have all been dealing with a change in the markets, the dynamic of the industry has made an enormous shift, and in my humble opinion this “re-version” to fundamentals is a welcome change. Years ago I wrote a piece for AC/F and B about “micro-gastronomy” or whatever those of you who are practicing it want to call it, and I predicted its demise in exchange for a return to the fundamentals, now I am no culinary prophet, nor could I have ever guessed that the culinary shift would occur on the heels of near……errrr……maybe still coming total economic collapse, but for now I am glad to see our profession as a whole getting back to basics, and allowing thoughtful creativity, local support, and flawless execution to prevail.

    No matter how much we try to bury Ferdinand Point, and Auguste Escoffier, they already did it all, they already wrote it all down, and they are likely wearing the t-shirts to prove it!

    Just Remember Chefs, if you are breathing a little again now and things are looking up, keep a close eye on the commodities markets, we are about to take another ride of impending inflation! Keep your heads high, your eye on your business always, and most of all do what you do with the most respect and finesse that you have.

  • Tom Maicon

    Thanks for your insight, chef Gatti. I agree that the issue is happening coast to coast, not just here in Atlanta but even in the big cities. Maybe we’re all just guilty of wanting more and sometimes we on the “dining side” are left feeling as if chefs have become too safe. And, believe me, I fully understand the economy isn’t exactly hitting the ball out of the park. Most all small business owners are struggling right now.

Leave a Comment

 

scroll to top