Jeffrey Chodorow has it out for Frank Bruni, and we mean big time. In a full page ad in yesterday's New York Times dining section (at a reported cost of over $83,000), Chodorow a essentially called Bruni a hack with no real food or reviewing experience (see Bruni's bio here), and accused Bruni of personally attacking him rather than focusing on the food at his latest restaurant, Kobe Club.
In a rather deliberate move, he also used the letter to announce the launch of his new blog, which will contain a section entitled "Following Frank and After Adam," where Chodorow will review the reviewers. New York Mag got some further details from Chodorow. When asked why he took out the ad, Chodorow replied, "Restaurateurs have no outlets. Where do we publish our commentaries? I can write a letter to the editor, but they probably won’t run it. So this was the only way to get my point across."
The comments on Chodorow's blog are something to behold, from "Are you for real? Shame on you for wasting so much money to indulge your bruised ego." to "You want vindication? Have Ruth Reichl review Kobe Club. Just be careful what you wish for." And the "Finally! A blog where I can read unbiased reviews of your own restaurants!" and "BRAVO! It's about time Bruni was exposed for what he is: A charlatan. I grew up in Italy and own a successful restaurant in Brooklyn NY which luckily opened before Bruni..." ain't bad either.
The Post gets Bruni's reaction to the letter: "Bruni told Page Six he understood Chodorow's frustration, but insisted, 'I'm just giving my honest opinions. I am not out to get him ... I've never met him.' Of all the irate restaurateurs who've gone after him, Bruni added, 'This is one of the more interesting reactions I've seen.'"
As Bruni alludes, this is certainly not the first time we've seen words fly between reviewers and restaurateurs. Sirio Maccioni, angry that former Times critic Grimes had some harsh things to say about his son's restaurant, Osteria del Circo, not only attacked Grimes, but insulted his wife. "When a reviewer has an ugly wife, he can never be very good." Has anyone met Mrs. Bruni? And we can't wait for Chodorow to band together with other restaurant owners, either forming a support group or a vigilante street gang.