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The Pete Wells Thread


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Why, so they can corrupt the review process by giving him special treatment? We're supposed to support that? Their failure to be able to bribe a reviewer (or given him a falsely inflated experience) is a ground for criticizing them?

 

"Don't you know who I am????"

 

In case it's not clear, I agree with you. He needs to get the fuck over himself. I think a restaurant's primary duty is to get the food right.

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According to Eater   Let the grumbling begin.

Even now when everybody has seen pictures of all the major reviewers, there's hope for anonymous restaurant reviewing.

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Right, stop blaming Wells for what Gordinier said:

 

Two minutes after Wells arrived at the restaurant, it became clear that he’d been spotted. His friend Jeff Gordinier—a journalist who, until recently, reported on restaurants for the Times—had spoken with me about Wells’s chances of remaining anonymous by referring to a famous contractual demand made by Van Halen: concert promoters were asked to supply the band with a backstage bowl of M&M’s, with the brown ones removed. David Lee Roth, Van Halen’s lead singer, has said that the request was not whimsical. It helped to show whether a contract had been carefully read and, therefore, whether the band’s complex, and potentially dangerous, technical requirements were likely to have been met. Gordinier said that an ambitious New York restaurant’s ability to spot Pete Wells is a similar indicator of thoroughness: “If they don’t recognize who he is, then they are missing a very important detail, and therefore they may not be paying attention to other important details.”

Contrast to an earlier paragraph:

 

Wells had encouraged me to arrive just ahead of him, and to ask for the reservation for two, at nine-forty-five, under the randomly chosen name of Michael Patcher. There was half a chance that I’d be allowed to sit before he showed up. If so, then at least one aspect of the evening would have what Wells calls a “civilian” texture, even if he was recognized. (As he put it, “If we’re very lucky, we might get a bad table.”) But when Wells arrived I was still waiting to sit down. So we stood near the door, at an awkward, congested spot from which we could have reached out and taken a clam from someone’s plate of Asian-Italian noodles.

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It's not immoral to apply Bayes's theorem. Like, yeah, the situation isn't great, but it's probably a valid inference that restaurants that don't recognize Wells are more likely to be bad than restaurants that do recognize Wells.

 

We'd all rather Wells not get special treatment anywhere, but that doesn't have much bearing on Gordinier's most likely correct observation.

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It's not immoral to apply Bayes's theorem. Like, yeah, the situation isn't great, but it's probably a valid inference that restaurants that don't recognize Wells are more likely to be bad than restaurants that do recognize Wells.

 

We'd all rather Wells not get special treatment anywhere, but that doesn't have much bearing on Gordinier's most likely correct observation.

Yes. But note that wells shouldn't change his opinion based on whether he's recognized. This is an argument as to why anonymity is irrelevant and recognition doesn't affect the reliability of reviews.

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I don't think anybody thinks that Wells should rate restaurants better based on whether he's been recognized.

 

In a just world, he should probably rate those restaurants worse, to compensate for the implicit special treatment that he gets.

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Why, so they can corrupt the review process by giving him special treatment? We're supposed to support that? Their failure to be able to bribe a reviewer (or give him a falsely inflated experience) is a ground for criticizing them?

 

We shouldn't support preferential treatment, but whether we support it or not, it's virtually impossible to prevent an interested party (restaurateur, chef, or FOH) from looking him up.

 

I was just saying that if I ran a restaurant, I would probably want to know when a critic (and specifically Wells) was in the house, and I'd want my staff to be able to spot him.

 

In that case, what was the point of Wells's Daniel review? Shouldn't he do that at ALL restaurants, if they're expected to give him special treatment and to be faulted for failing to do so? (Note that, at least from the excerpts I've read, it was Jeff Gordinier who made that comment, not Wells.)

 

It could just be that Daniel was particularly egregious in the way it provided lopsided service to different guests. ETA: It's also in keeping with his tendency to take large operations down a peg.

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The New Yorker notes there are many techniques used in handling Wells. Inviting nearby friends of the house to occupy tables near him, for example. As they gush over food, and point out its excellence.

 

Assigning a manager to wait on him (and explain what a menu is, apparently). Double firing meals (cooking the same item twice, so one can be sampled and the other adjusted for the critic).

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I haven't pondered this deeply, but off the cuff I'd say that Chang is the most important restaurateur (not chef) of the past ten years. And not just confined to NYC.

 

Relative lack of critical success at Nishi doesn't matter much in that context.

It's either Chang or redzepi, I think.

That occurred to me which is why I emphasized not chef. But yes those are the two.

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Oh, come on. He's not trying to write a puff piece on Chang. He probably chose Chang because Chang is an extremely well-known chef, and because it adds to the story to portray the perspective of someone on the receiving side of an unfavorable review.

 

I'm no Chang fan, but I can totally sympathize with his getting defensive.

I don't claim to know DC, but I've met him a few times, and he just has the insecurity thing as a cover for a clear idea of what he's doing. Some blogger explained this years ago.

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