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Bourdain Bashes 'Old, Entitled' Critics; Mariani Bites Back

Chocolate maker and clip show hater Anthony Bourdain, in an interview with the Houston Press, talked about the supposed "death" of fine dining (he called the idea "nonsense"). He also took a not-so-veiled dig at Esquire's restaurant man John Mariani and GQ's Alan Richman:

I don't want to lose those places entirely but when I hear some snowy-haired, long-time food critic for a men's magazine whining about the decline of service, I just don't care. Those guys are just a bunch of old, entitled farts who'll die soon anyway.

Reached for comment, John Mariani responded, in part: "If I whine, it's not about a decline in service but about a contemporary form of service whereby the customer comes dead last." Here is Mariani's full statement:

As one of those snowy haired food critics who, as Bourdain writes, whines about "the decline of service," there are three considerations:

1. Ninety percent of all restaurants above the fast food level in the USA provide excellent, courteous service, a personalized ambiance, and a willingness to please. These include those at the highest level of "fine dining" as well as at mom-and-pop places where the guests comes first.

2. If I whine, it's not about a decline in service but about a contemporary form of service whereby the customer comes dead last, after the chef's insistence that there be no menu but what he wants to serve, an atmosphere that is deliberately intense, sometimes ear-shattering, even antagonistic, and waiters who look like they didn't get around to a bath that week have to shout to be heard and do nothing more than deliver and pick up plates—for which you pay a bill that is about 80% or the same as at a fine dining restaurant Le Bernardin.

3. If Bourdain believes that the entire clientele of fine dining restaurants will soon be on death watch, he might check the guest list any night of the week for just about any high-end restaurant in Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, of Tokyo, as well as places in the USA like Daniel in NYC, Spago in LA, Tony's in Houston, Gary Danko in San Francisco, Fountain in Philadelphia, or Meadowood in Napa Valley. Neither will he find an empty seat nor a clientele headed for the graveyard just yet.

· Anthony Bourdain on Hipsters, Food Critics, Tasting Menus [Houston Press]
· All Anthony Bourdain Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All John Mariani Coverage on Eater [-E-]