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22 September 2005

Ding dong

I've always enjoyed eGullet.  In fact, since I started using it last year and became a member in December I've found it invaluable - whether looking for recipes, hearing opinions, getting recommendations.  It is one of the few websites where the pros mingle with the proles.  For example, Anthony Bourdain is regular on the forums.  Sitting in my office in the City of London I'd have no chance of being in the same room as Bourdain, let alone sharing a voice with him, and that's what eG facilitates.  It also provides considerable doses of food porn, notably Varmint's recent pig pickin'.  Now I know I'm kosher but that doesn't mean I can't at least vicariously admire copious quantities of food being planned, bought, prepped and eaten.  Basically I love eG.

Unfortunately, there's been a bit of a to-do recently over a book written by a chef named Doug Psaltis.  I need to be careful not to slip into litigious territory, but basically there has been a vocal disagreement on eG about the book.  Some posters feel that everything Chef Psaltis has written is reasonable and fair, others heartily disagree.  The most contentious point, it would seem, is his time spent at Thomas Keller's French Laundry, his criticisms of the restaurant and the reason he departed.  The other issue appears to be the relationship of Steven Shaw aka Fat Guy aka one of the founders of eGullet and Chef Psaltis, and to what extent Steven has declared his full relationship - including the fact that Steven's literary agent is Chef Psaltis' twin brother.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of Psaltis' book - which I haven't read - and the disclosure or otherwise of relationships, it seems that eG has taken the decision to terminate the discussion on the site.  This morning, they locked the thread.  There's no more discussion, that's it, full stop.  Consequently, it would seem that accusations that Steven Shaw is too personally involved and hasn't separated his relationship with Psaltis from his obligations to eG, do have some foundation.  Personally, I find this a real shame.  The site is excellent and widely read and Steven Shaw is well respected.  This episode seems to raise too many questions, all of which reflect badly on eG.  It is possible to get an alternative point of view on the whole farrago, check out the Opinionated About forum.


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