Somewhat predictably, people in Atlanta weren't too pleased about Atlanta Journal Constitution critic John Kessler's declaration that the city's chefs "need to up [their] game."
In fact, angry chef Ron Eyester (no, really, his Twitter handle is @theangrychef) of the Atlanta restaurant Rosebud wrote an impassioned rebuttal to Kessler's list of suggested improvements. Eyester writes his letter "with respect," but can't help wondering whether Kessler isn't "somewhat obligated to be a voice of the Atlanta public and its diners?"
First, he criticizes the paper, saying their dining section is partially responsible for the city's lack of interest in food and that at a mere three pages, "maybe one of those pages shouldn't be Kroger coupons." He also claims that the fact that the AJC rehired Kessler after a five-year break shows they don't "hold critiquing restaurants in very high regard?If it did, it would have sought out a fresh voice, and a not so familiar face."
Eyester has many other responses to Kessler's accusations, most of which are complaints chefs have made elsewhere: it's a hard occupation with low pay, and many trained cooks have their eyes on opening their own restaurants instead of working hard at their current jobs. He writes, "the Food Network has catapulted the image of a chef to that of a rock star; but most of are still playing air guitar while putting away deliveries in the morning." Eyester cites the fact that "as mundane as it sounds, we have to serve people food that they will actually buy" as a limitation on creativity. Kessler responded to all of this with a quick retweet and an "Oh, snap!"
So, is Kessler asking too much of these chefs? Or is Eyester right, and occasionally the limitations of running a business get in the way of culinary creativity? And what sort of responsibility does a critic have to his or her city?
· The Angry Chef's 7-Course Response to John Kessler's Open Letter to Atlanta Chefs [Creative Loafing]
· All John Kessler Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Ron Eyester Coverage on Eater [-E-]
Ron Eyester. [Photo: Creative Loafing Atlanta]