Friday, August 1, 2008

Setting the Record Straight or Chef Andy Howell is the Man!

I can’t help but be amazed at some people and their unmitigated determination to play the “innocent victim of abuse” card. There are many regular patrons of the site that will read a little self-serving piece entitled “Café Rustica – Chef Andy Howell Hates Kids and Bloggers” (don’t expect me to provide a link to it).

Those unfamiliar with the context or series of events leading up to BP's blog post would certainly assume that Chef Andy attacked the RD&BM author for something he wrote in one of his loquacious recaps of a recent dining adventure. THIS IS NOT THE CASE!!! I simply could not let this one go without setting the record straight. In the interest of both fairness and revelation, Chef Andy’s remarks were in defense of Karen Newton’s (Mash-up Crew) piece “When I Rule the Restaurant World” At issue are Karen’s humorous musings below:

"As a person who eats out in rva four or five times a week, I feel as qualified as anyone to share my wish list for restaurants. They’re totally subjective, so don’t get your panties in a wad if you disagree."

1. "NO children in any restaurants except chain restaurants. I don’t care how well behaved YOU think your child is, I don’t want him in the booth next to me, or being walked up and down the aisle or bothering the wait staff. I go out in the evening to enjoy adult activities in an adult atmosphere and I don’t want to hear your child whining, squealing or otherwise being child like.".........

Well folks, the little pink panties did get a little knotted as evidenced by the angry and mean spirited comment left by BP on the Mash-up site:

Reading your ‘complaints’ I’m guessing you eat alone a lot as your sniping would get on most peoples nerves.
Can you post a picture so if we see you out I can get my well behaved child to throw things at you? Any other stereotypes or generalizations you care to throw about? I’m sure you can piss off a few more people with your intolerant behavior.

It’s a little disturbing that my advertising dollars are paying your salary.
Bookstore Piet
Jul. 31, 2008 at 06:39 PM

Now, how nasty and uncalled for was that? Can you say “overly defensive”? How about “down-right mean”?

That bullyish comment was what the good Chef was reacting to when he posted his comment quoted out of context on BPs site. He was stepping up in defense of Karen’s right to her opinion (on her site). Andy spoke up, as well he should have. BP was clearly out of line with his rude comments. This is surely not evident by the quote on BP’s site.

Any one that knows anything about food and has been in Richmond for more than 15 minutes knows of Andy Howell’s restaurants and reputation as one of Richmond’s top chefs. Also well publicized are his uncompromising views on what a fine dining experience should and should not be. He knows what he wants in a restaurant and also the kind of patrons he wishes to attract. Thank goodness for him and others like him that don't kowtow or cater to every arrogant pedestrian that may stumble upon his bill of faire.

In fear that he might lose more than 2.5 customers, I could not sit idly by and see his comments misrepresented just because someone has a sharp bitch axe to grind. I guess now it's my turn to be attacked. So be it. I merely state the truth.

Peace, Bon Appetit, and YOU FUCKIN ROCK ANDY!!!


Bookstore Piet said...

I don't think my first comment was any more or less mean spirited than hers. If my child whines or squeals in a restaurant we remove him. Period. That's not appropriate behavior. For her to say all children do that is wrong and I responded in the same tone she used.

As far as Chef Andy, for him to misrepresent my son's behavior during our visit is insulting. No more no less. If children are not welcome in his restaurant (or vegetarians or, it seems, bloggers - there is some sort of issue with them that predates this - I've only heard partial details and don't quite understand the beef) then he should post that in the window.

In the response on my blog I felt no need (as you did) to provide all the links as anyone who is truly interested can find and read it all and form their own opinion. To have provided a full blow by blow would not have been loquacious but very long and dull (like this comment).

Mephisto Phil said...

Her "tone" was derived from sardonic wit. That's what many journalists do. It makes their writing provacative and interesting . I do not think it (the piece) was mean spirited or meant to attack you and your family. Your response to her, on the other hand, speaks for itself. And that is why I included it. Don't mean to attack you. I just saw that many of your readers assumed the Chefs comments were unprovoked. Two sides to every story as it were.


Bookstore Piet said...

If she was trying to be ironic or snarky I think she failed. Reading this and a really poorly done recent review Vinny's from there site worries me as an advertiser (small as I may be). Kinda had a cross between being pissed at someone assuming all kids are bad in restaurants and wondering if I was pissing my money away. Perhaps a bad forum to bring that up on the RTD site but the forum for response.... 'It's just a tiny blog for Cthulhu's sake!'.

I thought about providing the link or more background but was getting so much feedback prior to my post that figured most of my paltry readership had already seen everything. In a day or two who is really going to care about this? OK, maybe 3 days.

Come join us for a drink sometime! (Cafe Rustica might not be a good idea for a while....) ;)

Jocelyn Testes-Harder said...

I haven't had this much fun reading the blogs since those bygone days when Jocelyn was black. And here you are, again, Mephisto-Phil-ese...ridin' the heat!

In this production, I played the minor role of Terri, who merely excused Andy's behavior the way Seinfeld's "Kramer" excused the behavior of the "soup Nazi". Bravo, everyone! Awards all around!

RVA Foodie said...

I don't pay much attention to MashUp, preferring non-corporate blogs in general (not that I wouldn't take such a gig - Pete Humes' example unheeded - okay, stop kidding myself). However, the title drew me in and I wound up agreeing with the mandatory chocolate bit. Before clicking away, I wondered if the satire had any potential to result in a productive debate of the pros/cons of bringing kids to restaurants. No such luck. It got ugly and personal and stayed that way, including Phil's arguably inflammatory contribution. But hey, I think people should pick sides in disputes more often and I'm kinda prone to a caustic comment from time to time myself. So, I find it a little strange to be stepping in and calling for cooler heads to prevail.

In defense of Piet, anyone who's read his blog shouldn't be surprised that he would come out swinging in defense of his kid-accompanied dining hobby. For Andy to ignore Piet's relative rave about Cafe Rustica and recount the alleged details of Finn's behavior speaks volumes as well. Clearly, he's got strong feelings on the issue, or about Piet in specific, or all food bloggers including me. Whatever. Cooks are eccentric, especially amateur at-home epicures - probably part of the mystique of a good meal. Anyhow, I'd rather see these two ideological perspectives presenting impersonal arguments about this issue and leave the drama off the web. Should that discussion come about, maybe Karen and Jasper will push me to post our position.

Mephisto Phil said...

Well that was a rousing debate and hopefully fun for all. Sorry for stirring the post but hey, that's my develish duty :=)