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Jul 23, 2001 12:43 PM

Bauer in the news

  • k

Just got the latest San Francisco magazine--anyone else read the big piece on Michael Bauer? What do you think--hit piece or great expose?

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  1. Oooh, I wanna read it. Is there a link? I can't tell if the edition you're talking about is the one they have as "current" on line.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      It's the company he keeps as well as his personality. His boyfriend is Michael Murphy, who sells realestate. some chefs are said to have bought from him, so Murphy knows people in the industry and so does Cunningham. Between the three of them there probably isn't a place in town that they aren't biased about one way or another.

      Usually the reviewer and the editor are different people. It's the editors job to watch for conflict of interest by the reviewer. Often a third person distributes the assignments so there are no more conflicts. The Chronicle puts one person in charge of all of this who deals with the chefs in writing other articles, so how could it be even handed?

      Don't think you will get far by writing to the Chronicle. Bauer has told his friends that he won't respond because the Chronicle has 750 thousand subscribers and SF mag only a couple of hundred thousand at best.

      The only think that could topple Michael Bauer would be for one of the National TV shows to do an exposee on the real power behind the food scene in San Francisco, and that isn't going to happen. We are stuck with the jerk and his shadow, the insipid Davis.

    2. No, it's in the August issue (big food issue.) It's not online yet--but you can probably find it on newstands now or in the next few days.

      1. Wow! The article was a lot of fun to read, that's for sure. I felt that there was a bit of hard-hitting vengence in the article, but there we also too many important points. Especially about how Bauer reviews restaurants, and the power that he has over the food scene here. It seems to me the editor should not also be the primary critic--too much conflict. And the fact that the Sunday Magazine is his also--is too much power for one person. Diversity is important for more acurate journalism. I agreed with the criticism of his writing--it is just boring.

        The Sunday Magazine has been terribly altered--there is nothing much worth reading in it. I especially miss Patricia Unterman's bi-weekly articles.

        So, my thought is that everyone who has comments on this should also send emails to Liz Lufkin and Phil Bronstein at the Chronicle!

        4 Replies
        1. re: Laiko

          Maybe we should mount a campaign for truth in food criticism, and get Patricia Unterman back as senior Chron food critic...and send Bauer to the Sacramento Bee.

          1. re: Jim H.

            even sacramento is deserving of bauer!

            1. re: Jim H.

              Awesome idea Jim!
              I know of (serious)at least 100+ people in the Bay Area that would ralley hard to get Patricia back where she belongs and I say send Bauer up alittle farther away than Sacramento where he can do less harm . . . Yuba City / Marysville maybe?
              This dot-com money crunch is hard enough on restaurants right now,let alone Bauer on the loose. I feel personally after reading the article, it may have fueled his "I have the power" fire all the more. Too bad. Alot of people's hard-earned livelihoods are at stake to keep this guys ego intact. Marion Cunningham as his regular dining companion though he's trying to express in his articles a bias opinion and expertise we can all possibly relate too? Give me a break!

              1. re: Lucy Gore

                Lets do it! If enough people email the Chron to get rid of Bauer and bring back Pat Unterman, we may finally get "truth in food criticism". Unfortunately, I am sure the only people who might speak up are restaurant owners, and many are intimidated by fear of...Oh my God...a bad review.

          2. b
            Brandon Nelson

            I'm no Bauer fan...

            I'm not as strong a detractor as most other chowhounds. I check out reviews to get a feel for the style of food and prices. After that I'm cool on letting the critics babble. They all have agendas and politics to push.

            That being said I was surprised that Maile Carpenter missed such a juicy detail that would have killed Bauers credibility. Bauer and people close to him insist that he had nothing to do with reviewing (favorably I might add)bacar. There is an obviously implied bias between Bauer and the bacar/Eos folks. Yet Bauer managed to include bacar in his "50 best" list in the Sunday mag some monthes ago. My problem with that? bacar was open for all of 3 monthes at that point. Add to that the fact that anyone who is dialed into the restaraunt scene would tell you the place was already legendary for its poor service! Restaraunts should earn such accolades, bacar hasn't yet. Not to say that the potential isn't there. Before this I would have simply labled Bauer as a food critic. Not I lable him as a dishonest food critic. I don't like to attack a persons integrity, but Bauer leaves me no other honest option.


            9 Replies
            1. re: Brandon Nelson

              This is the stuff we've been talking about with Bauer. Thanks for being so clear, Brandon. And the top of your post covers the frustrations with this guy:
              "The agenda and politics".

              I have strong ,strong feelings just due to this website, alone. What do we do here? We exchange honest, open food knowledge and opinion with one-another to inspire.

              Bauer wants us to lay down on our knees in awe of his brillance (poor writer) and power (it's called depth perception . . . the difference between a brown nose & a shit head).

              As folks who eat because we love, admire and appreciate the opportunity, we are so much more open and available to someone who could contribute more steadfast information because of their positionand love of food. Interesting stuff like where do they get their product? Food philosophies . . . who else is in the kitchen with them? . . .aspirations and plans for the future. . .the dynamics of what makes a place worthwhile for us as readers and them as trying to do a good job. That is what Patricia Unterman did and that was because she knew restaurant life and was a damn good writer. Who cares where the bathroom is, what other patrons are wearing or where the chef has been before? If he's doing a good job where he/shes, that's news but such a tiny factor! He always manages to sabatoge.

              1. re: Lucy Gore

                Lucy, regarding your last words re: "always manage to sabotage". It seems that this is a basic, unconciouus need for the SFChron critics in the arts world, also. Or is this just a characteristic of characterless critics

                1. re: MarkB

                  great response and I would like to apologize. I realize too late after the "post" how heated my opinions are.

                  Bottom-line for me with Bauer is the lack of consideration he has for the majority of folks like us who eat out a great deal and help do our part as dining consumers. We do this to satisfy our senses, and yes, I understand as a critic he is taking in consideration of all who dine out. The problem is Bauer misses the point of what his position is . . . to share knowledge, to inspire, to support, to bring credibility to a life-style we all respect and admire.

                  I do feel most critics have this inane need to sabotage in order to leave some "do you know who I am" impression. I feel food critics are "art" critics as I consider food a tremendous art medium, if-you-will, and the lack of personal responsibility in some critics is incredible these days. It takes alot for people to show themselves and their talent. To have it scrutinized and manipulated to self-serving the critics needs is a very sad thing.

                  1. re: Lucy Gore
                    Brandon Nelson


                    I apreciate that there is a someone in the industry who shares such passionate disdain for Bauer. Too many voices fall silent about the Michael Bauer subject. Too much ring kissing has led us to dishonest reviews. Bauer has reached apoint where he requires that his back be scratched. His jounalistic integrity has been severly compromised it is important that this subject not be ignored, less it will grow.


                    1. re: Brandon Nelson


                      I have to admit, I have often thought what I would do if ever given the opportunity to met Bauer in person and even the thought sends my blood pressure up a notch or two.

                      People who own small restaurants are scared ****less of this guy and that totally pisses me off. I would love about 30 minutes of one-to-one with him to express my disappointment. I love the chronicle, I loved reading the "pink section" and feeling so excited about the food scene . . . who was doing what, what was new, what was "so-so". That was Patrica Unterman's time. Now, as a committed food-lover, hard working cook and patron of many establishments, my heart ends up in my throat when I even hear of some of the reviews writen, let alone reading them myself.

                      Bauer lacks any integrity and soul and that's what this industry is about.

                2. re: Lucy Gore

                  The Chron does tend to stick to the more mainstream places for reviews. Thus, I think another thing that made Unterman a fantastic critic was that she was very good at digging out great low profile places, instead of just relying on press releases or covering the usual suspects. Several friends of mine despaired when she gave places like Maki and Hama-Ko great reviews, because they were their small secret places. But you have to give Unterman credit for knowing about such places. (On a somewhat related note, Paul Reidinger of the SF Bay Guardian is pretty good at ferreting out places off the beaten track, only that he seems to like every place he reviews.)

                  I feel that Unterman is also a lot more knowledgable than most about the food that she's eating and writing, and I like the nice slivers of culture when she describes the food and its background.

                  On the other hand, I don't think it's a bad idea to say something about the chef's lineage. I treat it as a mini-resume; if I had eaten at a place he has cooked at before, I might have some idea/expectation of the quality of execution or the stylistic influences. Decor and atmosphere are not too important to me either, and a meal should ultimately focus on the food, but I suppose this bit of information might have a little utility if one doesn't want to be too over- or underdressed (I do confess that that's less of a problem in this town).

                  I tend to cross-reference restaurant reviews from all my sources - friends, various newspapers, this board etc..., so I suppose I'm a little less vulnerable to biases (taste or political) from one source or another. It's worked more times than not for me.

                  Anyway, all this makes me want to read that article in the magazine that started this thread - is there a weblink to it?

                  1. re: Limster
                    Brandon Nelson

                    Hey dude!

                    Go to I'm sure you can find it from there.


                    1. re: Brandon Nelson

                      Thanks for the link - but alas, it's not on the web. I just bought a copy of that issue and read it.

                      Most of the posts and the article itself have focused on Bauer's ties to the restauranteurs and chefs, but I think that another problem which was also pointed out in the article is that chefs end up cooking to Bauer's tastes or at least trying to. This has less to do with Bauer than the kitchens that are trying to play the star rating game, but if all restaurants tried to do the same thing, eating out would be pretty boring. It would be nice if we had another prominent food critic in town, for diversity if nothing else, and I do hope that Unterman continues to write for the Ex.

                      1. re: Limster


                        You are so right. What really bugged me about the "cooking the best" for Bauer is that the guy expects it! He assumes you kneel for his holiness!

                        What is a food critic? In my humble but peeved opinion it is a person who represents the normal, as in you & me. We eat out for basic reasons. When I go into a friends restaurant, I don't expect them to even flinch an extra muscle or glance that would change the normal pace or routine of the evening. Ever. A food critic should be you & me, eating out and exploring. And then sharing their opinion as a competent writer, a chowhound, a normal joe on the streets. That was the intent unless someone can explain different. (please speak up, as Brandon did.) Bauer changes all the rules and that just is not right.