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Chef Rick Moonen and Critic Jay Rayner Go To The Mattresses Online!

There has been a virtual shit storm to erupt over douchebag critic, Jay Rayner, giving our beloved Chef Rick Moonen the mighty shaft on Top Chef Masters. The fracas started when Rayner questioned Moonen’s passion for sustainability when Rick used venison from New Zealand as part of his final meal. The reduction in score by Rayner cost Moonen the win in a very tight race, and more importantly it shorted our local heroes at Three Square, the charity which Moonen represented in the competition, $100,000.

Chef Rick Moonen with The Wife

Chef Rick Moonen with The Wife

Since the airing of this pre-recorded finale this past Wednesday, Rayner has gone on to try to justify his bullshit docking of Moonen’s score by a blog post of his own and now Rick is fighting back with something rarely used in such battles; Facts. In the Bravo TV sponsored blog post, Rayner admits that he marked down Moonen’s score due to what he saw as a sustainability fail, although this statement in his blog contradicts with reality:

I should say here and now that this is not why Marcus Samuelsson won. He won because his cooking was better, especially his duck dish with that fabulous foie gras ganache. But I can definitely tell you that Moonen’s craven attitude to environmental issues is why I scored him as I did.

Well, Mr. Rayner, if Rick lost by 1/2 a star, the smallest fraction of scoring on the show, then how is it that Marcus’ “cooking was better” if you also say that Moonen’s “craven attitude” is why you scored him as you did?  Douche.  Rayner contradicted his own thoughts once again when he responded to me on Twitter with this reply when I tweeted how @RMSeafood (Moonen) was crushing @jayrayner1 with facts:

@TastingLasVegas he seriously bloody isn’t you know. and the bottom line. I marked him down. He lost.

Douche. I mean… Bloody Douche.

Also, as viewers of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters know, Whole Foods Market is a major sponsor, and almost all of the grocery shopping for the competition is done at the local Whole Foods.  Is it not implied that when you shop at Whole Foods, you are purchasing ingredients that have already been held to the highest of standards and that a certain base level of “sustainability” is a given as soon as you walk in the door?  Is Jay Rayner putting sole responsibility of the assumed unsustainability of this venison on the chef and not the sponsored market from which it came, or is he also knocking the product of what might be the franchise’s biggest sponsor?

I asked Rayner on Twitter if there is a certain sustainable quality implied when you purchase food at Whole Foods to which he simply replied, “nope.” If anyone from Whole Foods Market is reading this, I’m sure you know how to reach Mr. Rayner for further comment.

The good thing is, is that Rick Moonen isn’t taking this lying down since now that the finale has aired and contractual gag orders have been lifted.  On both his Twitter and Facebook page, Moonen has been calling his fans to arms, loading them with facts and sending them to Rayner’s blog post and Twitter page to teach that asshole some manners.  Here are a few Status Updates from Chef Rick Moonen’s Facebook Fan Page:

New Zealand Venison is sustainably farmed outside on natural pasture without hormones steroids or antibiotics. And, it’s sea freighted not flown in to the US. Transport contributes just 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. One of the main sources of emissions is the fodder and grain grown to feed animals. So pasture fed animals contribute considerably less green house gas to the environment. If you agree with me and the facts please let Jay know! Leave a comment on his blog on my behalf!!

Here’s another directed to Rayner:

@jayrayner1 Here are the facts about transporting meat; CO2 emissions from shipping are around 8 grms per ton per km, from trucking 47 grams, and from airfreight 560g per ton per km. if you do the math there is less of a carbon footprint shipping 1kg of meat to New York from NZ (96gms) than trucking it from Texas (135gms).

There was also a great exit interview Moonen did with Lia Bulaong of where Lia was the first to hip Moonen to Rayner’s little diddy on the Bravo blog.  In defending his choice to use the venison and Rayner’s subsequent reaction, Moonen had this to say in the interview:

There’s no one that’s been more consistent, with more integrity, doing it longer than I have. And because I chose that on a final competition? You know, a national… a national competition? Come on, dude! I’m not serving you sea bass with clubbed seal sauce! Ay ya yay ya yay.

That’s great. I can’t wait to respond. I want to respond, man. It’s on. It’s ON. I love this kind of banter. You know what it does? It’s good for everybody. It makes people think and really, at the end of it all, if you can’t poke fun at each other, make fun of each other, for the benefit of a message…

There’s a gilding of truth to what he has to say, but where do you draw the line? You see, I get sick—I’m on these panels all the time and you get these extremists: “Well, if it’s not a hundred percent, then you’re not real.” Excuse me! We’re going in a better direction every single day of our lives; if everyone did it half as much as I’m asking you to do it or as much as I’m doing it myself… It’s not like I’m just talking the talk—I’m walking the walk. And if everyone sort of just latched onto that mentality, things would be a hell of a lot better.

Although it sucks that our resident superstar didn’t get the title he deserves due to some bullshit misguided feelings, the actual winner, Marcus Samuelsson is a proven great chef, and his of-course worthy charity of the UNICEF Tap Project is more than deserving of the $100,000 boost.  In fact, on Wednesday, June 23, Rick Moonen will be hosting Marcus Samuelsson as a guest chef for a special meal to be held at RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay.  Marcus will do a live cooking demonstration and prepare a 5 course meal.  Tickets are priced at $125. To get more information, call RM Seafood at (702) 632-9300.

Thanks to all that Rick Moonen has done for this city, for Three Square and of course for the health of our oceans.  There is a reason why I write so much about him and what he does.  He’s good.

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

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12 comments to Chef Rick Moonen and Critic Jay Rayner Go To The Mattresses Online!

  • Gosh, I haven’t had much time to watch TCM this season, but I do love me some recap! Thanks, Mike!

    I agree with you – Jay Rayner shouldn’t be allowed to dock Moonen (or anyone else) for sustainability issues… they all have to shop at Whole Foods so it’s a level playing field. I totally thought Chef Moonen had it in the bag.

    Kudos to you for most use of the word douche in a blog post!

  • Kai

    Up until the TCM finale, I thought that Jay Rayner was a pretty entertaining and fair judge. But his comments to Chef Moonen at the judge’s table and his subsequent TCM blog post left me more than a little confused and irritated. This was supposed to be about the food, right?

    Rayner took his critique to a shockingly unacceptable personal level when he characterized RM as a “shameless opportunist”, as someone who had “bigged himself up as the saviour of the planet” and as a man spouting “self-serving homilies”. WTF!!?? He serves up some venison from Whole Foods and that makes him a fraud? Rayner even called RM out for living in LV in the first place – “possibly the least sustainable city on the planet”???

    Unfair criticism of someone who has been genuinely and passionately dedicated to sustainability issues for a lot longer than most.

    Thanks! Just had to get that out:-)

  • Erica

    UGH! Thank you for this article/editorial, and for your appreciation and recognition of one of the most real, down-to-earth, humble, talented chefs in America. The sustainability complaint was a joke. Any American food writer could tell you that Rick has been obsessed about sustainability LONG before it became “hip,” and in fact I believe his vocality on the issue through those American journalists had a pervasive impact on this topic becoming more of a global “talking point.” No doubt Marcus did a great job, but the greatest strength of his final meal was it’s NARRATIVE. Rick had the balls to go outside the box by not doing fish (we heard his mentale behind doing this, but I’m not sure if the judges are privy to the back of house banter) and it was, IMO, the fact that he didn’t emphasize how much the gesture of choosing the venison actually tells the story of the chef he is today and is moving towards in the future, (a man who doesn’t rest on his laurels, who is always pushing himself, and who isn’t “just the fish guy”) which was the assignment.

  • Erica

    And speaking of American food critics, what’s up with giving a job and fame to this snarling Brit?Is he supposed to be the Simon Cowell factor? The judge we love to hate? If so, mission accomplished!

  • Rick Moonen

    I am sick an tired of all the filtered and monitored websites so here is my comment to Mr. Jay Raynor…

    Let me have a moment here now. I did not win the title of Top Chef Master and did not take home $100,000 to the charity of my choice…this is all true. I am fine with all of that. To accuse me of having a rehearsed story in order to win the hearts of a panel of judges and the fans of a reality show competition is the point that bothers me the most. I have been consistent for over 30 years of my culinary career speaking about being responsible and having respect for the raw ingredients that we eat every day. I have been consistent with this belief and have remained proud to have maintained this integrity and guess what…now that the show is over and I have been laid in my place I know that I am not through…my message will continue! I have never been paid by a single dime by any company to sponsor their product so that my message would remain true to my beliefs. I am sickened every day of my life by the sense of entitlement that the past several generations have lived by…in particular when it comes to the ocean. We have been abusing the environment for generations and wonder why our food system is so screwed up. I have maintained a consistent message. I did not make up some bleeding heart sob story to win a silly cooking competition Jay. Read the comments on facebook. I am not making stuff up. You took a counterpoint, attacked me to make yourself look better and for whatever reason uphold exception to my mission statement…My message is my second job. I am first an foremost a professional chef and a damn good one at that…well I can cook. What are you bringing to dinner?

  • Jules702

    Mike you’re awesome! I love how you keep reposting The Wife & Moonen pic. Was that part of the deal when she agreed to take that pick of you and *clearing my throat* dollar bills? hahaha.

  • Jules702

    And I’m with AverageBetty, great use of the word douche!

  • Bravo, Chef Moonen! You’re a culinary treasure, here in Las Vegas and nationally, and I hope this isn’t the last we hear from one of our fave local celebrity chefs.

    And thanks, both Mikes, for the good dialogue here!

  • Thanks so much to everyone for the great conversation! To Rick and everybody….I’m so glad that you guys find this to be a place to have your voices be heard, unfiltered and unedited. That is one of my major goals with this thing and it thrills me to get to read everyone’s comments and to have so many perspectives to be shared with everyone.

    Just so you know, the only reason why I have it set for new commenters to be approved by me first before their comment is published is so each post isn’t slammed with spam ads for dick pills. Every comment that is written on this blog, as well as the Facebook page, is untouched….the good, the bad and the ugly.

  • Michael Parad

    Just the fact that a guy that looks like he hasn’t had a shower or haircut since the early 70s can criticize a Great guy and Chef like Rick is laoghable!
    Rayner grab a bar of soap and then come to the dinner table.

  • If you go to Bravo’s Top Chef Masters site and click on the link to Rayner’s blog entry, it goes to “Page not found”.

    But they left up Rick Moonen’s response for some reason.

    I sent the PR person for TCM an e-mail and hope to get an idea of why this happened.

  • John Smith

    Epicurean Food Lover,

    I’ve eaten at some of the best Restaurants in the world The best food that I have ever eaten in my life anywhere would have to be at Susur’s. The man is a Genius. When you have other Top Chef Masters saying what an honor it is just to be around this guy and watch him. “I have learned so much from this man”,Waxman. “The man to beat is
    Susur”,Moonen. I have to agree with some of the other posters, Susur got “screwed,” sorry rooked. The question is Why???? Marcus is a good Chef but not even in the same league as Susur. I think the judges on Top Chef Masters need to find other jobs. The mark of an excellent chef is to create the best tasting food for your target audience. The judges agreed Marcus’s last dish tasted like “shit,” and called him on it. His excuse is he felt he should stick to the integrity and the originality of the dish even if it tastes bad or foreign. The judges need to find new jobs, sorry palettes.The mark of an excellent chef is to create a dish or experience the will WOW your target audience and send them to Nirvana. This is the meal of a lifetime. This is better than love sex,orgasms etc. You cook something that tastes bad and say this is the way we do it back home sorry!! Susur Lee is the real Top Chef Master…. Iron Chef Master etc. If you’ve never had a real orgasm than his food is the next best thing. Shame on you judges and Bravo. I think you done Susur,his fans and your audience a real injustice. I think they should have Susur back and give him, his just rewards. The show was fixed.Marcus wasn’t even in the competition until the last show where he won both challenges for his charity and then suspiciously wins the last challenge and the title Top Chef Master. Something smells bad in TV land. Once you’ve eaten Susur’s food you will go back again and again trust me. Some experiences you will want over and over again.

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