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When Your Comeback After Scandal Involves a Dunk Tank

From the Editor: A wine world scandal and a eyebrow-raising comeback plan

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This post originally appeared on October 13, 2018, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.


Two big stories this week.

1. The Court of Master Sommeliers revoked the ‘master sommelier’ title from 23 of the 24 people who passed the exam this year, because they discovered one of the Court’s members leaked information about this year’s tasting portion (one of the three sections of the test and often called the hardest to pass). One person took the test earlier in the year and thus avoided the penalty.

For those unaware of the weird and wild world of master somm exams, well it’s fairly extreme. I have friends and acquaintances who have dedicated years of theirs lives and serious dollars working their way up to and then taking the exam. Anyone who’s seen the movie Somm understands the passion and insanity (and inanity) that goes into all of it. This is akin to being disqualified from the Olympics for someone else’s doping scandal.

19 of the 23 are trying to convince the Court to hold an investigation and change their decision, but I think our op-ed writer Cristie Norman is right to say the Court did the right thing. I also wonder if more MS titles are in jeopardy if this leaker has been intimately involved in the test in the past. I presume they won’t won’t to poke too hard at that.

2. Meanwhile, Charlie Hallowell is officially ready for his comeback. The Oakland chef and restaurateur who was accused of sexual harrassment by THIRTY employees, already hinted at his comeback in June, but now he’s released a 12-point plan on how he’d like to return to his businesses and open a brand new restaurant.

If you believe these kinds of figures are ever allowed back, not to mention just 10 months after exile, he does go a long way towards sounding repentant, enlightened. First he genuinely apologizes and owns his actions. He’s going to therapy, joined a self help group, hired third party HR, set up office hours, hired an all-female advisory board, handed over control of his salary to his female CEO, etc.

And then.

And then he mentions the dunk tank. He wants to have a monthly dunk tank where employees can attempt to dunk him. If it’s a joke, it’s an unfortunate venue for a joke. If he’s serious, what an inappropriately lighthearted way to invite employees to confront him about his actions.

Maybe it’s naive or extreme to wish he would just sell the whole company off and start fresh somewhere else, but turning a comeback into a carnival doesn’t seem like a step in the right direction.

Opening of the Week

Zauo Alex Staniloff/Eater

There is a new restaurant in New York called Zauo where you fish for your dinner. It sounds like the dumbest thing in the world... until you start following the instagram stories of people who go. And then it looks... kind of fun? Like, I wouldn’t go on purpose but I wouldn’t be mad if I somehow ended up there by accident and netted a fish.

On Eater

On the Podcasts This Week

This week on The Upsell, Daniel and I talk with writer, cookbook author, and now star of new Netflix show Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat. We discuss her path to success, thoughts on Chef’s Table and diversity in food television, and how to get what you want by writing nice letters to people.

And on this week’s episode of our new business podcast, Start to Sale, hosts Erin and Natasha talk to the co-founders of Witchsy, a digital gallery and online marketplace.

Off Eater

Take care, enjoy the weekend, and if you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend.

— Amanda

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