Last week, SF Chronicle critic Michael Bauer’s annual Top 100 List landed with a thud in the Bay Area, despite inclusions of many talented chefs and their restaurants. The complication: Bauer’s decision to include restaurants owned by men credibly accused of sexual harassment and abuse.
Weeks before the list was published, members of the SF Chronicle’s food team (including Bauer) wrote a four-part op-ed on whether food media should cover or reward restaurants that have been linked to sexual harassment. Bauer was the only writer who believed that claims of sexual harassment have no bearing, ultimately, on whether or not a restaurant should be covered or reviewed.
He also failed to include several notable restaurants that have had a place on the list,ending Foreign Cinema’s 17 year stretch, and Coi’s 12 years of inclusion.
Following publication of the list, Bauer felt the need to respond to the wave of criticism with a short essay on Friday, digging in his heels on the matter. “What I can do is to give readers the information they need to decide whether to support a restaurant under a cloud of harassment allegations,” he wrote, confirming that while readers have choices on where to spend their dollars, those restaurateurs accused of bad behavior might still deserve them.
While no reason has been given for Foreign Cinema’s displacement (or any of the other restaurants not on the list), Bauer sought to rationalize his choice with an entire three- (originally published as four-) star review to why he kept Coi off the list. Mostly the decision was about whether new executive chef Erik Anderson was cooking the “nuanced California cuisine” that Bauer expects to see at Coi. But, according to chef/owner Daniel Patterson, it’s about more.
The chef took to Twitter Sunday evening in a twitter thread that questioned the longtime critic’s motives for removing Coi from the list, and for failing to include women and people of color on the list. See the thread below.
Of course there was implied criticism of @michaelbauer1 and his role in shaping our food culture. Was he upset? Is he still upset? Does he harbor some strange personal vendetta which manifests in biased and inaccurate reviews of my places?— daniel patterson (@dcpatterson) April 29, 2018
But I want to go deeper on this point. It’s not just about money. It’s about class and race. Chez, like our larger Bay Area community, was and is Euro-centric. That is to say, biased towards whiteness in myriad ways.— daniel patterson (@dcpatterson) April 29, 2018
I love RT Rotisserie, but the food at Navi Kitchen is also fantastic. The prices and casual style are similar. What is the deciding factor?— daniel patterson (@dcpatterson) April 29, 2018
(Please don’t @ me about the objective superiority of European food. I wrote about that kind of thinking with @aftelier) https://t.co/w4XwNyazv5— daniel patterson (@dcpatterson) April 29, 2018
Is our review system fair? More importantly, is that system for everyone? Or is it designed for only some people, seen from one cultural point of view?— daniel patterson (@dcpatterson) April 29, 2018
And once again, the Chronicle food section seems to have effectively distanced themself from their critic. Today, a survey published today by reporters Tara Duggan and Justin Phillips suggests that while many chefs at the Bay Area’s two- and three-Michelin-starred do not consider the #metoo movement a black and white matter, over half of the restaurants surveyed answered yes to the question “Should media take moral turpitude into account (when reviewing restaurants)?”
- Michael Bauer Still Not Sure If He Should Review Restaurants Run by Bad Men [ESF]
- Despite Earning Three Bauer Stars, Coi Won’t Make His Top 100 List [ESF]
- Bauer’s Top 100 Includes Three Restaurants Owned by Accused Harassers [ESF]
- How Michael Bauer Decided Whether Restaurants Under Cloud of Harassment Allegations Were in, Out of Top 100 [SF Chronicle]