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After Coi Snub, Daniel Patterson Questions the Top 100 List

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The chef highlights how issues of race, gender, and the Bay Area’s socioeconomic disparity played out on Bauer’s annual list

Chef Daniel Patterson
Patricia Chang

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.

In the end, the critic included three of those restaurants — Bottega and Coqueta from Michael Chiarello, and Tosca Cafe which is co-owned by Ken Friedman — on the list.

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.

Michael Bauer’s Top 100 intro, 2006

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)?”


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