A week and a half ago, Times-Picayune restaurant critic and reporter Brett Anderson published an expose on pervasive sexual harassment within chef John Besh’s New Orleans restaurant group. Today, he appears on Eater’s podcast, the Eater Upsell, to discuss the behind-the-scenes work that went into this report.
“The story that we put out took a lot of effort and was just a sliver of what we heard. I have sources that are disappointed in me for not getting what they told me into the story,” he says, explaining that he worked on the story for eight months before finally publishing a piece that considers the accounts of 25 women, nine of whom went on the record. The women allege sexual harassment claims against Besh and his business partner but, more disturbingly, also describe a dangerous and sexualized culture throughout his restaurant group.
Anderson says he’s grateful that the newspaper allowed him to investigate for so long, knowing that he could have come up empty handed. The piece started as a tip from an acquaintance and ballooned as the list of victims and accused grew. At one point a woman even approached him in a coffee shop to tell her story, unsolicited. “As a reporter, when the sourcing starts to feel easy, that’s another piece of information,” he says. When it becomes easy, you know you’re on to something.
And the timing of the story’s publication — amid coverage of the Harvey Weinstein harassment allegations and the fallout in the media, tech, and entertainment industries — was purely coincidental, as Anderson’s story was in the works for so long. Anderson wants to stress that the women who came forward for his piece committed to going on the record well before they might have had the “cover” from the Weinstein story.
Hear the complete interviews with Brett Anderson and Eater New Orleans editor Stephanie Carter below. Subscribe to the Eater Upsell on iTunes, or listen on Soundcloud. You can also get the entire archive of episodes right here on Eater.