Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

NEWS: Jeffery Chodorow Really Cannot Take Criticism

The New York Sun reports today that restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow spent $80,000 in order to take out a full page to wine about his restaurant Kobe Club's bad review in the New York Times.

According to the Sun:

Mr. Chodorow attacked the Times reviewer, Frank Bruni, in his open letter yesterday, writing that the newspaper has been lacking a "real food critic" since Ruth Reichl left for Gourmet magazine. He wrote that he was the victim of a personal attack.
New York times food critic Frank Bruni gave the restaurant zero stars in his review, saying, among other things:

Although Kobe Club does right by the fabled flesh for which it’s named, it presents too many insipid or insulting dishes at prices that draw blood from anyone without a trust fund or an expense account.

For the most part it feels like a cynical stab at exploiting the current mania for steakhouses in Manhattan by contriving one with an especially costly conceit and more gimmicks than all of the others combined.
But one wonders if Mr. Chodorow wasn't perhaps, less hurt by the negative review of the restaurant, but in fact more stung by the references to himself, as the review points out that he "hasn't had much local success of late," and details some of his notable failures. A blow to the ego perhaps?

Mr. Bruni of course responded to the ad by saying that his review was "completely honest, if inevitably subjective," and stated that none of this would have any bearing on future reviews of Chodorow-owned restaurants he may do.

Mr. Chodorow should perhaps learn how to take criticism. After all, if you want to have a grandiose empire of "concept" restaurants that are as much, if not more about the decor and the scene than the food, you're going to have to be prepared to take some hits from restaurant critics who prefer not to be distracted from their food by the one million Damoclean swords you've decided to hang from the ceiling. A negative review is inevitable and honestly, it's not going to stop the people who would eat at that kind of restaurant from eating there. So, in other words, take a pill Jeffrey Chodorow. This is probably is not the first bad review of one of your restaurants, and I am sure it won't be the last. Don't be a baby.


9 comments:

Whooey! They're both slinging fire and brimstone. Somewhat disturbing in light of this article. Thank heavens the US has the First Amendment, or that $80,000 ad could just have easily been a $800,000 lawsuit.

said by Chubbypanda at 1:07 PM Delete

Wow, Panda, that article about Ireland is very strange ... but I am wondering if that case will be upheld. It sounds to me like it would fall into the category of what in the UK is called "fair comment," and should have been defensible ... it really shouldn't have turned out that way. But juries are very unpredictable ... if a case got to the jury in the US on the same facts there's no telling how it might turn out.

I'm not sure of how US and UK law compare in detail, but they have defenses of truth and fair comment, and we have defenses of truth and matters of opinion, in addition to an added requirement that "public figures" be required to show that the paper knowingly published false statements.

But really in a jury trial, a bare reading of the law can't predict an outcome - it all depends on the strategy and the evidence that the jury is finally allowed to see and how they see the facts emotionally, etc. etc., as well as how well they understand the law as presented to them.

Anyway, at least the ad didn't cost anyone money other than Chodorow, so I agree, it could be much worse.

said by KT at 1:46 PM Delete

KT -- no publicity is bad publicty, haha.

From what I've read, Chodorow comes across looking like he's RIGHT (though undoubtedly a petulant jerk), at least to me.

said by Jeremy at 2:57 PM Delete

Really? I read the review and I think Chodorow is being way oversensitive. He is only referred to twice in the review and only in passing. By far the bulk of the review is about the restaurant.

For one thing, he seems to say that just because other critics gave positive reviews, all reviews should be positive. Go look at Metacritic.com to see how often all critics agree on the quality of something.

For another thing, he has this weird idea that the NYT is out to get him and that critics are killing his restaurants. I've never heard of one bad review killing a restaurant. Usually restaurants die because their budgets are too big and/or they are lame and/or the restaurant business is really hard to succeed in, especially in a big city that is saturated with places to eat. There are plenty of places in LA that have been trashed by S. Irene Virbila and are still going strong.

To me, Frank Bruni's credentials (take a look at his bio - http://www.nytimes.com/ref/dining/bruni-bio.html) make it far MORE likely that he approaches his criticism with an eye to journalistic integrity than someone who has lots of food credentials but little journalism experience. It could perhaps be argued that he doesn't have technical knowledge about food, but I don't think it can seriously be argued that his lack of previous food experience would lead to the type of personal smear that Chodorow is insinuating from a person with Mr. Bruni's resume. That's ridiculous.

Also, Chodorow is a crazy person. His letter announces an intention to start a blog in which he goes to every restaurant reviewed by the NYT and then write his own review reviewing their reviews. I'm sorry, but that person is missing a polka dot.

said by KT at 3:51 PM Delete

" I'm sorry, but that person is missing a polka dot. "

Okay, maybe . . . but delightfully so :)

said by Jeremy at 5:50 PM Delete

Well, okay, I will give you that.

said by KT at 6:27 PM Delete

Do you think he's really missing a polka dot or just...wants the publicity?

Or both...?

Sometimes life IS like Sex in the City, I guess.

said by Anyanka at 9:48 PM Delete

And then there's the whole "the lady doth protest too much" thing. Like when Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford took out their own ad in the Times, proclaiming their hetero love and it just made people doubt them even more.

said by Vaguely Urban at 8:50 AM Delete

That's right! So awesome ... I love the world!

I can only hope that one day I will be passionate enough about something to take out a full page ad about it.

said by KT at 9:27 AM Delete

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