What's a year without some epic food-related feuds to keep the masses entertained and enraged? Even though long-time New York City restaurateur Pino Luongo complained earlier this year that "[t]here are no good, old-fashioned, restaurant-industry feuds anymore," certain food world personalities have tried their damnedest to keep the tradition alive.
There was the fury rained upon Paula Deen at the height of Paulabetesgate, and who didn't find themselves entangled in a Gordon Ramsay lawsuit this year? Not to mention that rabble-rouser Anthony Bourdain's yearly collection of feuds, plus plenty of bickering inspired by chefs' tell-all memoirs. Here now, the year in food feuds.
Anthony Bourdain vs Travel Channel
Anthony Bourdain announced this year he'd be splitting with Travel Channel and moving over to CNN — but not without ripping into Travel Channel first. Last month, he took to Tumblr to explain a series of angry Cadillac-related tweets he wrote after the No Reservations series finale. Apparently Travel Channel had edited together a series of shots of a Cadillac sedan with the episode's promo, which angered Bourdain because he felt it was misleading viewers into thinking he endorsed the car when indeed he has a professed commitment to avoid commercial endorsements for the most part.
And beyond the Cadillac thing, Bourdain also ranted against Travel Channel for the clip shows they strung together to create a few extra episodes, explaining: "It's something of a creative signature of the new guard at Travel, best I can tell—to cynically and cheaply 'repurpose' existing material to create additional 'content.'" While apparently the show's contract does allow for that kind of clip use, Bourdain is still not taking the Cadillac thing lying down, writing, "But I CAN do something when my name and image (such as they are) are used to sell a product without my consent and in violation of prior specific and well crafted legal agreements. And I intend to." Travel Channel then responded that Bourdain's "decision to make further remarks on this matter in the public domain is unfortunate."
Gordon Ramsay vs Everyone
While many of Gordon Ramsay's epic feuds and lawsuits have been simmering for years, there were plenty of important developments in 2012. First of all, the feud with his father-in-law that was one of the big food feuds of 2011 spiraled even more wildly. Sara Stewart, his father-in-law's former mistress, sued Ramsay for allegedly hiring a private detective to take "intimate" photos of her during the affair.
Beyond that, Ramsay also filed a couple of lawsuits this year against his former business partner Danny Lavy over their partnership on a Montreal restaurant and Ramsay's line of kitchenware. Ramsay also got into a publicist battle with fellow fameball Marcus Samuelsson over the assertion in Samuelsson's memoir that Ramsay had once called him a "fucking black bastard." Finally, Rambo also upset a bunch of people who are friends with the Spotted Pig's April Bloomfield — like Anthony Bourdain and Jamie Oliver — with his application for UK trademark rights to The Spotted Pig.
Paula Deen vs Everyone
Oh boy, where to even get started with Paula Deen? The grease queen revealed earlier this year that she has diabetes — this after years of teaching people how to load their food with as much butter as possible. Oh, and she also announced this after safely securing a lucrative pharma partnership. Pretty much everyone went nuts over the news: Twitter people, all the "haters," a Weekend Update segment on Saturday Night Live and Anthony Bourdain among them. Oh, also a former employee at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House sued Deen and her brother for sexual harassment.
John Mariani vs Joe Bastianich (And Everyone Else)
Esquire restaurant man John Mariani clashed with New York restaurateur Joe Bastianich earlier this year. In his memoir Restaurant Man, Bastianich calls Mariani a "self-rightous, condescending prick" and recounts the time Mariani criticized him in the dining room of his restaurant Becco about 20 years ago. Disputing the account, Mariani wrote Bastianich a letter accusing him of attempting "to out-Bourdain Bourdain." And just last week, Mariani called out Bastianich as the "Worst Price Gouger" in his "Worst Food Moments of 2012" listicle — which also took aim at Catbird Seat, Rene Redzepi, Big Gay Ice Cream and Anthony Bourdain's decision to publish Olive Garden restaurant critic Marilyn Hagerty.
Steve Cuozzo vs Joe Bastianich
But Bastianich's memoir also caused plenty of ire beyond that with Mariani. There was also a bit of a flap with New York Post critic Steve Cuozzo. In Bastianich's memoir, he writes of a Cuozzo column on Del Posto under the headline "Dumb and Dumber" — which, in fact, was actually headlined "Bum and Bummer." Cuozzo fired back, writing, "Why does Joe remember it wrongly? Did Mama Lidia beat him with a zabaglione whisk for the mess he made of Del Posto's launch, when it was nearly evicted for violating its lease?" Cuozzo also notes that he has written positive reviews of other Bastianich restaurants and argues that "When a restaurateur questions a critic's intelligence, it's incumbent on the restaurateur not to sound like a street-corner lunatic himself."
Rachael Ray and Gwyneth Paltrow vs The New York Times
[Photo: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com]
Remember Ghostwritinggate? It all started when Julia Moskin at the New York Times shared some blind items from her time as a cookbook ghostwriter — tales of chefs who could care less about their books. The piece spawned denials from Rachael Ray and Gwyneth Paltrow, both insisting that they never used ghost writers for their books — Paltrow obviously wrote about it in GOOP and then video conferenced into Ray's show to chat about it. In the end the New York Times public editor decided the piece was "misleading."
Residents of Flavortown vs Pete Wells
Well, obviously New York Times critic Pete Wells' review of Guy Fieri's new restaurant Guy's American Bar & Kitchen set off a shitstorm of epic proportions this year. Fieri bit back at Wells, calling the review "ridiculous" and "overboard" — and he also issued an official statement. But Fieri's legions of followers in Flavortown also took issue with "snooty New Yorkers" like Wells, including legendary curmudgeon Alton Brown.
Eddie Huang vs. Marcus Samuelsson
In more memoir-inspired bickering, troublemaker Eddie Huang lashed out at Marcus Samuelsson and his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster on the eve of his memoir's release, calling Red Rooster "an embarrassing exercise in condescension, much like the book." Huang argues that the restaurant didn't go far enough to pay homage to its neighborhood, treating it instead like "a museum exhibit" rather than a sincere reading of Harlem. Huang writes, "What [Samuelsson] doesn't realize about Harlem, soul food and perhaps himself is that they're all good enough already. It's the rest of the world that needs to catch up." Samuelsson waited a couple months to fire back at Huang, telling the Washington Post, "To even answer garbage, why should I lower myself to that level? I, as a mentor, as a mentee, as an employee, as a chef, I have a responsibility, and it's not to go bottom fishing and enter garbage." He also called Huang's rant "a joke." Huang later took to Twitter to berate the WaPo reporter for letting Samuelsson "off the hook."
Graham Elliot vs Steve Dolinsky
Things got a little tense in Chicago this year when chef Graham Elliot went as far as to kick a journalist out of his restaurant G.E.B. Elliot explained to Eater Chicago that he would not have ABC7 Chicago's Steve Dolinsky in his restaurant after the one time Dolinsky ate at Charlie Trotter's and "tweeted through the whole meal how shitty it was."
Giles Coren vs René Redzepi
UK critic Giles Coren has long had a feud of sorts with Noma chef René Redzepi, dating back to 2010 when Coren went foraging with Redzepi for a Times piece. Redzepi later told Eater that he found Coren to be "a really really nasy bastard... He's one of those guys that his biggest interest in his life is to make himself famous." So after this year's announcement that Redzepi's Copenhagen restaurant had be named to the #1 spot for the third year in a row on the "World's 50 Best Restaurants" list, Coren tweeted, "I see that mouse-faced little cunt Redzepi won the best restaurant in the world for his grim Scandy cold food fuck dungeon. Good times!" and later following up that Redzepi "can go fuck himself to death with a foraged prawn." And it didn't quite end there. A couple months later, Coren also tweeted about Redzepi's summer pop-up in London, writing, "I hear Rene 'Shitbag' Redzepi's Claridges pop-up will be crap."
2012 Honorable Mentions in Feuds
· Ryan Sutton vs Alan Richman
· Heston Blumenthal vs Marco Pierre White
· Anthony Bourdain vs. John Curtas
· Anthony Bourdain vs. Anonymous Food Writer
· Coffee Shops vs. Laptop Squatters
· California Restaurants vs. The State of California
· Canadian Restaurateur vs. Online Reviewer
· French Chef Pierre Jancou vs. Marie Claire
· British Ice Cream Truck Turf War
· José Andrés vs Tom Sietsema
· SF Sandwich Shop Bites Back at Critic With 'Boring' Menu
· All Feud Coverage on Eater [-E-]