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Pete Wells: why I'm not reviewing Noma Tulum

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The NYT restaurant reviewer offers his thoughts behind a decision not to review the restaurant. Julia Moskin did a soft news piece on it last week.

 

He is definitely put off by the price, even compared to the Tokyo version. And the poverty in which it sits. And, bringing in a regiment of foreigners to work with Mexican ingredients.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/dining/noma-tulum-pete-wells-mexico-rene-redzepi.html

 

 

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I think what he wrote was amazing.. I loved his writing and the piece and thought it was so smart.. I really have not read much of his stuff but, this was really fantastic..

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My first thought after reading the article was "Good for Pete! He's pointing up the contradictions behind the whole concept of the restaurant."

 

Why review a meal that, economics aside, most people won't be able to have because the restaurant has a limited run and all the meals are booked.

 

And speaking of economics, it's richly ironic that a chef who celebrates localism has created a restaurant that the vast majority who live where the ingredients are sourced can't afford.

 

Then I thought again. Pop up restaurants are certainly covered by food critics, both as "events" and also as demonstrations of chefs techniques and abilities.

 

As for the economic argument, if you take food out of the equation don't t all tourist hotels in poorer countries provide a level of luxury that's wildly out of reach of the locals? Maybe the difference there is that most tourist hotels don't make a fetish of localism.

 

I'm really conflicted about this. I want to clap Pete on the back but I'm having a problem with the internal consistency of my position.

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I think Pete is very explicit about the contradictions and about he fact that his position may not be internally consistent but isninstead conflicted.

 

My intuition is also that Noma Mexico doesn't have a deep sense of place - it has luxury accoutrements meant to evoke something "local" and "Mexican" but never could have sprung up organically there not even feints at the idea beyond it being anything more than a traveling art show (cf. L'Ambroisie or Manresa or Ishikawa). Which I also think is Wells' point.

 

I also think that this is all fine and I wish I went.

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This is why the Times classical music critic refused to review the Met Opera's 50th anniversary gala, because it was an expensive one-off featuring mostly visiting artists to which most of the potential audience had no access.

 

No, wait, that's not what happened at all.

 

That's a stupid argument. If it's unimportant, don't write about it. If it's bad, give it a bad review. This is just bullshit.

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That's plainly just a dereliction of duty – a misconstrual of the role of criticism, properly understood.

 

He's not supposed to be Consumer Reports.

 

Writing a "why I'm not going to review this" article is such an asinine move here.

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No. It's more problematic than that. Imagine if that entire performance were of works inspired by NYers, but that NYers themselves lacked the social cache to get those original works performed on their own.

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@Anthony Bonner: So give it a negative review. That sort of thing makes it bad, it doesn't make it not a valid subject for criticism.

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That's plainly just a dereliction of duty a misconstrual of the role of criticism, properly understood.

 

He's not supposed to be Consumer Reports.

 

Writing a "why I'm not going to review this" article is such an asinine move here.

No

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That's plainly just a dereliction of duty a misconstrual of the role of criticism, properly understood.

 

He's not supposed to be Consumer Reports.

 

Writing a "why I'm not going to review this" article is such an asinine move here.

This is not unreasonable either.

 

The criticisms of the model would be better criticisms if he went.

 

Contra to my point above - Noma Tulum is not just peak Noma but peak Tulum and weirdly as of Tulum as it gets.

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@Anthony Bonner: So give it a negative review. That sort of thing makes it bad, it doesn't make it not a valid subject for criticism.

That is what he did. Its also a critique of the pr-industrial complex.

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@Anthony Bonner: So give it a negative review. That sort of thing makes it bad, it doesn't make it not a valid subject for criticism.

That is what he did. Its also a critique of the pr-industrial complex.
I guess also right? It's a review of a restaurant that exists almost solely on instagram by someone who consumed it that way, which is the primary way people consume restaurants anyway.

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Yes? So why insist on this bizarre quasi-review format and insist that you're not reviewing the restaurant, except as a shameless display of ego-stroking?

 

Like in particular why write something like:

 

An actual review of a pop-up that sold out months ago strikes me as spectacularly useless. It would be as helpful as reviewing a wedding.

Like holy shit, people review one-off cultural events after the fact all the time. It's not weird. It's not useless. It's, you know, criticism.

 

And, if I grant your argument, that he then proceeds to essentially review the restaurant seems like an act of rank hypocrisy.

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