Twitter got kinda nasty today. I got called out by a James Beard chef, not one but two local blogs got ridiculed mercilessly but a food community that's not taking mediocrity anymore.
My schooling was at the hands of Jose Andres, chef/owner of Miami's (and formerly only LA's) The Bazaar along with a score of restaurants in DC and Vegas. My experience at MIA's Bazaar was admittedly mixed. It was opening night and there were some expected kinks. But 2 hours worth of kinks, with spans of 30 minutes between courses, were more than I expected. The schooling started with a snarky comment to The Chowfather, who happened to be at the right place at the right time to tweet mercilessly about a tasting Andres himself was conducting. The pics and tweets were epic, going from one dish to the next at a rapid pace. One tweet was how Andres made it through 70 dishes in 15 minutes, to which my inner snark couldn't resist commenting why then had it taken 2 hours for us to get through our measly 7.
The response came the next morning from Andres' Twitter account suggesting if I was in a hurry I should've gone to McDonald's. Ok, so it was a nice remark basically telling me to f-ck off. Sometimes when you've got a ticked off customer you try to right the wrong - but after having lived in Spain I could see where Andres may be coming from.(1) My feeling has always been if you're open for business and your taking my money then things should be right. I'm not saying spectacular, just right. A 7 tapa meal that was 2 hours wasn't right. Our waiter acknowledged it. It shouldn't have happened, live goes on. Andres waxed philosophical about how good things take time. I'm sure The Bazaar MIA will get it's groove after time. Andres has a ridiculous track record that makes it a certainty. And I'm sure I'll be back because those croquettes were as good as my grandmother's (only she didn't serve them in a glass shoe).
Later ChristineG got Chef Andres' back and we had a great back and forth on expectations for a restaurant opening. I got some backup myself from Gourmandj whose Bazaar experience was similar to mine. It was great debate and showed how different people had different experiences even when they're at the same place at the same time.
The Twitter version of a brawl happened after Eater Miami posted it's wrap-up of reviews of The Bazaar. Eater Miami has had big shoes to fill since Lesley Abravanel booked it to the Miami Herald's miami.com and resurrected a moribund site that never lived up to it's potential. Those shoes haven't been filled so my personal suspicion is there's some poor writer in a loft in Manhattan that's holding Eater Miami together until the new Lesley is found - thus Eater's transformation from newsbreaker to news aggregator. The reviews compiled by Eater included The Chowfather as well as Frodnesor (via Chowhound) and another quip from "a poster on Chowhound" (that'd be me) and lastly some reviews from the food snob's most dreaded beings, Yelpers. The first volley came from ChristineG (she's getting to be my favorite badass) who called out Eater for even thinking of using Yelp for reviews. To make things worse, the use of Yelpers came after Eater Miami sent out an APB to anyone interested in becoming a writer for the blog. Things deteriorated rapidly with others from the Miami food world chiming in including Jamie, Kareem. Then somehow the folks at Miami New Times' Short Order blog got offended when they were called out for having writers without a real culinary background on their staff. Not that I necessarily agree with that, but Short Order needs as many people as they can get because some of their current staff are truly, incredibly horrible. The Short Order vs. locals back and forth got ugly, which is strange considering Short Order is a blog from a publication that caters to the community and the person behind the blog's twitter account saw it perfectly OK to ridicule people in said community.
Kind of an interesting day. What's the most interesting is that 5 years ago this wouldn't have happened. Five years ago not only did Twitter not exist, but the food community in Miami was pretty moribund. Expectations have increased dramatically in the Magic City. Not only are people more passionate about what they eat and where they eat it but also who writes about it and whether that person has the credentials to do so. So yeah, Twitter got kinda nasty today. But at least it was a nasty born out passion, which I guess isn't a bad nasty, kinda like a Janet Jackson nasty.
(1) In the US we're all about customer service, we bend over backwards for our customers. Spain, not so much. Not that service is bad, but seems to have more boundaries. You, as a customer, have your role and I, as a server/waiter/store owner/etc have mine. I was there for my last semester of grad school and I took a class on total quality (back when Reengineering the Corporation was the badass business book and everyone was retooling and reenginerring everything). One day the professor opens the class up for discussion by asking the expat students what they thought of quality and service in Spain. The floodgates opened and it turned into almost a complete brawl with the expats saying customer service was non-existent and the Spaniards saying in the US everything was spoonfed to us. It was a great lesson in cultural assimilation, or refusal to assimilate. It's when a really learned that not everyone is going to bend over backwards to please you, which is a lesson that's come in handy in Miami.