Ladies and gentlemen, at this time please welcome restaurateur and full-on bag o' nuts Jeffrey Chodorow to the dance floor. The beleaguered Chodorow, determined -- de-ter-mined-- to not take Frank Bruni's goose-egg review of his recently opened steakhouse Kobe Club lying down, has taken out a full page ad in today's NYT Dining In/Out section to send a very personal message to Pete Wells (the section's new editor) and challenge Frank Bruni to a cage match. More specifically, the ad is a one-thousand-one-hundred-and-thirty-eight-word diatribe indemnifying the Times and other critics for the failure of Chodorow's previous restaurants, informing readers of the 'very important fact' that the times hasn't had a real critic since Reichl, and calling out chief critic Bruni as unqualified. (If you're wondering, it costs on the low end about $30K for an ad like this, or $26 a word. In Chodorowbucks it's what he charges per person for about 15 minutes of eating at Kobe Club.)
The memo, which is also available on Chodorow new's blog (sidebar: this is probably the biggest blog launch marketing campaign in history) is the stuff of 100% pure, uncut insanity.
Mr. Bruni comes to us from Rome where he was not the local "expert" on Italian cuisine; he wrote about politics. In fact, there hasn't been a real food critic with food background (except, perhaps, Amanda Hesser) at the New York Times since Ruth Reichl (now editor-in-chief at Gourmet magazine). Perhaps that's also why your reviews are so all over the lot, with great restaurants getting bad reviews, fair restaurants getting great ones, one star reviews that read like two star and three star reviews that read like one star. Your readers would not expect your drama critic to have no background in drama or your architecture critic to not be an architect. For a publication that prides itself on integrity, I feel your readers should be better informed as to this VERY IMPORTANT fact, so that they can give your reviews the weight, or lack thereof, they deserve. In the interest of fairness, I am introducing my personal blog, which will be a compilation of my food-related experiences and musings and a special section entitled Following Frank and After Adam, in which I will make a follow-up visit to the restaurants they write about for the purpose of reviewing their reviews. My blog will appear at http://www.chinagrillmgt.com/blog/. My friends in the restaurant business have warned me that there will be further retaliation against me for speaking up. So be it.Technically, of course, this is the second time Wells has pissed off a blogger. As for chod-o-blog vs. Bruniblog, please let this be round one of many.
· Dear Mr. Pete Wells... [chod-o-blog]
· Giving Luxury the Thrill of Danger [NYT]