« Kill It, Cook It, Eat It | Main | Blooms »

23 February 2007

Chodorow kicks out Ducasse

Alain Ducasse's restaurant Spoon+ is closing at The Sanderson Hotel in London.  This is big news on several fronts.  First, Ducasse restaurants rarely close (Essex House in New York is one such rarity) and second it is being replaced by a restaurant fronted by Jeffrey Chodorow.  He's relatively unheard of in the UK despite being the man behind Asia de Cuba and, er, Spoon+.  Ducasse's name is on the door, but Chodorow is the Svengali behind the operations.  Although he has a couple of places in London, he is largely unheard of over here whereas he is big news in the States.

He came to national prominence thanks to the car-crash TV programme: The Restaurant.  Chodorow and chef Rocco di Spirito were opening a restaurant and thought it would be great to do a reality TV show about it.  Unfortunately, it all fell apart, with the enmity growing between the two partners as the cameras rolled.  It was compulsive viewing that resulted in high ratings, the restaurant shutting and Rocco shuffling off into some obscurity.  Chodorow emerged seemingly unscathed.

Chodorow clearly loves a bit of controversy because he is now at the centre of another storm.  One I'm guessing his UK PR team are less than delighted about, because they are hawking him around British food writers, ahead of the new opening at The Sanderson.  This latest bust up is with New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni.

The Times is widely revered and the incumbent restaurant critic holds significant sway.  Before his current hallowed position, Bruni was the paper's Rome correspondent, so like many critics, he doesn't have a professional background in food.  He gave Chodorow's newest opening, Kobe Club an awful review a couple of weeks ago, with zero stars.  In what has been dubbed The Chodorow Smackdown, the restaurateur has taken his revenge with a full page ad in this week's New York Times Food & Dining section, criticising Bruni.  In an open letter to the section's editor, Chodorow takes Bruni to task for his personal attacks and points out, not unreasonably

...how does a review in which the main player, Kobe beef, is acknowledged by Mr. Bruni to be perfectly prepared, warrant zero stars?

I'm not saying that Chodorow is entirely in the right.  It would be reasonable to argue that this letter was written lubricated by a healthy dose of sour grapes.  I also question just what he expects of a reviewer, especially when he argues

...you should have critics on your staff that celebrate and support the efforts of people who work in New York

Hold on a moment, a reviewer is there to review, not to heap unquestioning fawning praise.

So, do the UK reviewers have a lot to fear?  Possibly.  I have read a description of Chodorow's restaurants as like TGI Friday's for rich people.  Clearly not meant as a compliment, it seems very possible that if he opens such an establishment at The Sanderson, Marina, Fay, Jay and the rest of them will not be too positive in their reviews.  It will be interesting to see whether we'll have a Chodorow Smackdown UK Edition.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Chodorow kicks out Ducasse:


If for any reason I edit a comment, I explicitly say so. I only edit comments if they are rude, abusive etc. I reserve the right to delete comments if I think they're unduly offensive or constitute spam.

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.