SUBSCRIBE, Son! Get Your Issue!

You Can Donate To My Pork & Beer Fund! Thanks!

Categories

The Fallacy Of The Anonymous Restaurant Critic And Why Steve Friess Is An Embarrassment To Journalism

You can question my knowledge.  You can question my ability.  You can question my qualifications.  But…the minute a man questions my integrity, the discussion is over.  I don’t really know what I’ve established over these last 10 months writing, but one thing I think is crystal clear is my complete honesty.  Honesty to my readers, my listeners, the restaurants and restaurant workers in Las Vegas and especially the honesty to myself.  I don’t have anything to hide.  I’m out in the open for all to see.  No smoke and mirrors here.  What you see is what you get.

Yesterday a very unfortunate series of events happened, to which first of all I must apologize to my followers on Twitter.  No one other than the subject at hand needed to see the interaction, however when my opponent took the matter publicly, I needed to respond publicly.  What am I talking about, you ask?  Well here it is.

Steve Friess wrote an article in the Las Vegas Weekly that you can read here.  To sum up the article, Friess basically says that Vegas food writers are looking to be the stars, are not anonymous and that this quality is only found here in Las Vegas.  That’s my personal summation, read the article on your own to come up with yours.

I call bullshit on this.  The faceless anonymous food critic is one of the biggest fairy tales in journalism.  Ruth Reichl is famous for wearing wigs when she would go out, but I promise you that in any restaurant in New York City that was “3-star” and up would have a person on that floor that would say, “Hey, there’s Ruth Reichl in a wig.”  These critics are known and there are people on the restaurant’s floor trained to identify them.  Just Google Sam Sifton’s name (current NYT critic) and you can see a whole myriad of pictures of him.

I put a comment on Steve Friess’ personal Facebook page that looked like this:

Steve then decided to take this conversation to Twitter, which is obviously a much more public forum.  Here’s the conversation as it happened.  Remember, this is Twitter, so to get the timeline right, you got to start at the bottom and work your way back up. And this is as much as I can get, unfortunately I can’t get more screenshots of the tweets in conversational format, but you get the gist.

Obviously it is something that devolved into primal rage, and I’m not going to apologize for my words, just that there are a whole bunch of people that didn’t need to see it that had no choice but to see it.  But, if someone is going to question my integrity in public, then I will respond in public.  My integrity is everything to me.

Friess said (as you can see above) that “clearly I side with critics being known to chefs and receiving special treatment.”  You read the conversation.  Is it that clear?  Or is Steve Friess doing what he does best by fabricating lies to further his position.

Unfortunately this isn’t the only run in I’ve had with Mr. Friess.  There has been a number of times where I call him on something and then he fires back with false assumptions of my beliefs.  Is this proper “journalism”?  Is this the way the pros do it?  Support your story by twisting people’s words and fabricating thoughts?  Is this the way Mr. Friess regularly does business?  What school of “journalism” is that?

And how funny is it that he questions my statement that after 2 months I was being recognized in restaurants.  Why would I make this up?  What do I possibly have to gain by making such a story up.  Believe me, if it surprised anyone, it surprised me….but I can’t help that from happening.  Just as it has been for any new critic in any city, for some reason a few restaurants decided to give a shit about me.

Steve refutes my claim by saying that he doesn’t get recognized in restaurants, to only which I can respond that either A.) No one in a restaurant gives a shit who you are. or B.) He’s too stupid to realize he has been identified.  Considering the scope of Mr. Friess’ body of work, I’d say it’s a little of both.

So I’m being called out for being immature because I told Mr. Friess to “fuck off” or something that effect.  What’s more immature, telling someone to go “fuck off” or a “journalist” that fabricates evidence to support his claims?

Like I said before, what you see is what you get with me.  I think my objective with this website has been pretty clear from the beginning:  to entertain people with a little bit of education mixed in.  It’s simple math, the more people that read and listen to what I have to say means the more clout I have with potential advertisers which puts dollars in my pocket.  It ain’t rocket science.

So let’s talk a wee bit about “food journalism.”  How can a journalist give a proper story when they have relationships with the chefs?  My argument is how can they not?  Do readers want industry news through the eyes of what a news room tells them, or through the eyes of someone who witnesses it in the real world?  Why do you think these embed reporters during the war were so popular?  Because they were showing you shit the way it happened, not through some filter of a news room and a bullshit journalism class.

If more writers spent some time in kitchens as well as talked with people in the industry after hours, there is a perspective of reality that is born that is invaluable.  How many facades of how restaurants work are continued to be propped up by “journalists” that don’t experience the real world? That’s why John Q. Public actually thinks Wolfgang Puck is still baking bread and that the guy in freshly starched chef’s whites that come out to shake your hand actually cooked your meal.  It’s a false, glamorized view of the reality of a restaurant that is purveyed by these “proper journalists.”

I can’t help that I get recognized when I go to restaurants.  Anyone who’s seen me in real life understands that I’m not the most difficult fellow to pick out in the room.  But I never ask for special treatment, and I certainly never announce I’m going somewhere if I haven’t been to the restaurant several times unannounced.  And when I do announce I’m going somewhere, it’s only in the sense that I usually just try to get my Twitter followers to come hang out in real life.  I’ve NEVER called a place ahead of time to tell them I was on my way.

It’s a shame that Mr. Friess feels it necessary to fabricate my thoughts to support himself.  I believe it shows that not only is he a bad journalist, but he’s a bad human being.  What kind of man uses the tactics he uses to further himself?  Not the kind of man that I want to associate myself with, and certainly not the kind of man that I want to spend another minute thinking about.  So with that said, thanks for reading.

—–
Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • RSS
  • email
  • Print

6 comments to The Fallacy Of The Anonymous Restaurant Critic And Why Steve Friess Is An Embarrassment To Journalism

  • “So let’s talk a wee bit about ‘food journalism’. How can a journalist give a proper story when they have relationships with the chefs? My argument is how can they not? Do readers want industry news through the eyes of what a news room tells them, or through the eyes of someone who witnesses it in the real world? Why do you think these embed reporters during the war were so popular? Because they were showing you shit the way it happened, not through some filter of a news room and a bullshit journalism class.”

    This is a really good point. There’s definitely real value in looking at life beyond the classroom and the newsroom. I’ve seen this myself in politics, and I’m sure it’s the same with food.

    It just isn’t realistic to expect to be truly “anonymous” these days, especially not with 24/7 media and social networking.

    “If more writers spent some time in kitchens as well as talked with people in the industry after hours, there is a perspective of reality that is born that is invaluable. How many facades of how restaurants work are continued to be propped up by ‘journalists’ that don’t experience the real world? That’s why John Q. Public actually thinks Wolfgang Puck is still baking bread and that the guy in freshly starched chef’s whites that come out to shake your hand actually cooked your meal.”

    Yep, yep, yep. What I like about both you and John is that you two actually have a good understanding of how the restaurant business works. Oh, and you don’t hesitate to tell it like it is, no matter who owns the place and/or cooks there.

    And OMG, I SO want to make the next TLV Tweetup! I’m still shedding tears over missing the first one.

  • Dave in Calgary

    The only embarrassment in all this is your diatribe of cursing and personalizing of a differing of opinion. Did you forget to take your Xanax? You aren’t even in the same league as Steve F, so you should be a good little foodie and take some constructive criticism like a man and leave the judgement to us readers, who by the way are in larger multiples reading Steve F because he us tenured and multifaceted unlike yourself. Now go wash your potty mouth out with soap. Who knows, it may reset your palate back down to earth where us humans live.

  • Andrew – Thanks so much for your support! And I’m definitely looking forward to finally meeting you at the next Tweetup!

    Dave – Read what I said again, because obviously you didn’t get it. It’s not a the difference of opinion that gets me, I’m always up for a debate. It is when someone falsely fabricates what I either say or feel to publicly question my integrity is where I’m upset.

    And lets please remember the context of it. It was virtually a real time conversation on Twitter. I was blind sided by Steve’s dig at my integrity. I liken it to being cut off in traffic. I had a flash of very understandable rage. You never lost your shit on anyone? I find that hard to believe for anyone. I’d advise you to please put a leash on the holier than thou attitude and look at both context of the situation and read the words that were actually said.

  • Dave in Calgary

    Mike: I read yours and Steves stuff on Vegas Mate. My opinion means shit in the grand scheme of things, however I am a huge fan if Steves, and was merely pointing out that you are ruining your credibility by flying off the handle, and attacking him, because your feelings were hurt. I do road rage from time to time, but feel idiotic after, embarassed. Usually no one witnesses it. Granted Steve is a bit passive aggressive, but come on, I read both your pieces, it’s ridiculous to take it soo personally. Neither of you lads are hacks, we the readers appreciate your largely unsung efforts, but attacking in a juvenile wounded way will drive us away, just sayin.

  • mrmark

    Oh Trust Me, Stevie is always recognized. If not you will hear him tell anyone within shouting distance “As a Gay Journalist…”

    As for special treatment… What is that phrase? Oh Yea, “That’s calling the kettle black!” he is the queen of special treatment.

  • Douch3

    I’ve never ran across a bigger douche than SF. He’s a laughing stock in LV media. It is a badge of honor to be “hit” by that guy, so welcome to the club.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>