The flagship French edition of women's monthly magazine Marie-Claire has landed itself in some trouble, forced to apologize this week for requesting a free meal from Paris restaurant Vivant. French blog Food Intelligence has the full, brutal email exchange between Marie Claire's director general Jean-Paul Ludot and chef Pierre Jancou — member of a younger generation of French chefs who has garned acclaim for his market-based cooking and natural wines — in which Jancou totally slams Ludot's request to come into the restaurant for a comped meal for himself and a plus-one.
See, Ludot had decided to feature Vivant as one of his favorite restaurants in an upcoming issue and, you know, merely wanted to have a free meal to prove that Vivant really was his favorite restaurant. Jancou — already known in Paris for public disputes with food critics — bit back, writing:
I've never invited a journalist in 24 years of a restaurant career. Your approach seems shady and fraudulent.
In reply, Ludot told Jancou he'd pull the recommendation — all the while lecturing the chef about just how many people read Marie-Claire and how his request was perfectly acceptable journalism. Also, he wrote, "You have the right to refuse our request without being so insulting."
Obviously, that was not the end of that. Jancou wrote back:
If you have the habit of inviting yourself to a restaurant, to me, you're absolutely not a food writer. If you stick with fashion, it would be better for everyone.
But it was Ludot who got the last word, telling Jancou that he wasn't a food writer at all, but a top editor at the magazine. And an editor who didn't quite understand why Jancou wasn't embracing the wonderful opportunity in from of him:
You are the only one to react this way... and in such an aggressive manner. The others well understood that this was an opportunity to put their restaurant forward in a big magazine. And they, naturally, hoped to set up a friendly moment to talk... You didn't understand anything and all you have done is confirm your stinginess well known in the circle. This exchange is now over. You have made me waste my time.
Zing? Anyway, Jancou forwarded all the correspondence to some food writers, including Food Intelligence, which published it all, leading to Marie Claire's formal apology, in which the magazine writes, "[Ludot] committed a personal error of which we strongly disapprove." Ludot himself also offers an apology, explaining, "This does not at all correspond with the practices and values of the Marie Claire editorial staff and the other magazines in the Marie Claire group." Finally, according to Le Monde, the affair has caused a freakout among French food journalists who fear that Ludot's attitude will cast suspicion on the notion of editorial independence.
· Connaissez-vous Marie (pas) Claire? [Food Intelligence via Paris By Mouth]
· Connaissez-vous Marie Claire... suite? [Food Intelligence]
· Le directeur général délégué du groupe Marie Claire désavoué [Le Monde]
· All Pierre Jancou Coverage on Eater [-E-]