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Apr 8, 2007 08:35 AM

What's up with Gina Mallet? (Toronto)

I get both the Post and the Globe and I've been trying to figure out what Gina Mallet has against every high end restaurant in the city. She seems to be systematically visting them all for the sole purpose of giving them 1/-2 stars. Not that she hasn't made some good points, but I think that a review of a place generally requires a few visits, at both lunch and dinner, especially if the experience less than lives up to the hype. I've been to Thuet once or twice and enjoyed myelf immensely, was well treated by the staff (at Summerlicious no less) and thought the food was terrific, not stunning, but good (it was after all Summerlicious). She had a miserable time and gave it one star.

Curious on what others are thinking....

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  1. Methinks that Ms. Mallet does not really like food very much and has a few chips on her shoulders. How she ended up reviewing restaurants is beyond me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FlavoursGal

      Thank god someone else feels the same way! I think she ended up reviewing restaurants 'cause she's a well known Toronto socialite. If anyone knows anything about her qualifications, I'd love to hear them. Kates, at least, is a Cordon Bleu trained chef: whether you agree with her or not (and she does have her biases), she does know her stuff.

    2. I agree with your comments, particularly on her review of Colborne Lane (discussed previously on the Ontario board before the postings were deleted). Curious as to her background I googled her, for those that haven't you may want to give it a shot. Apparently she does have a very well respected background in food/writing, check out the link below for info on her James Beard award winning book (and the comments/reviews from Bourdain and others).

      I still don't agree with the writing style in her reviews (and her clear disdain for all things trendy/cool) but it definitely gives me a bit of a different view on her opinions. Will probably check out her book if I can find a copy kicking around.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Vise

        Gina was one of the better known Toronto food writers, before getting this new National Post reviewing gig. I'm surprised you hadn't heard of her before. Which restaurant critic(s) do people in Toronto trust? I'm including all sources(the major Toronto dailies, Toronto newsweekies, local GTA papers, Toronto-based food blogs, Toronto-based food websites).

      2. I don't mind Gina Mallet actually. At least she focuses on the food. I find many of Joanne Kates' reviews seem to be more concerned with name-dropping and atmosphere, which is surprising given her so-called credentials as a Cordon Bleu trained chef. Whatever that is supposed to mean. Anyone that's got money to drop and time on their hands can go to cooking school. While taking courses definitely gives one knowledge about proper cuisine preparation/techniques and presentation it does not a chef make nor a food critic for that matter.

        1. I had never been particularly impressed by Ms. Mallet's articles but her recent review of Lai Toh Heen in The Post was particularly infuriating. Inappropriate, offensive, and to be quite frank, plainly racist.

          Low-lights of her mean-hearted diatribe against Chinese cuisine:

          "[M]y idea of Chinese food is an Asian version of Big Macs, Sino-style, fast-food, pungent take-aways and drop-ins to the rugger scrum of a Chinese restaurant where you struggle through the masses for a seat, shout to be heard and are identified only by number."

          "We joked about being hungry again in an hour, a quip that has since been amended by the avalanche of cheap Chinese products. Now it's "I hardly finished eating before my made-in-China sweater started to unravel.""

          6 Replies
          1. re: Yum2MyTum

            Yikes! That review deserves a canning!

            1. re: Yum2MyTum

              in combination with bludog's comment... her socialite status seems to really come out in this review. i read only this one and now refuse to read any of hers from now on in. her writing is insipid, ridiculous and useless. the references to the "skeptic" and "gourmand couple" make my skin crawl, it's like pathetic name dropping. i feel like i've lost some knowledge about chinese cuisine because of her.

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                I don't think you can call "skeptic" and "gourmand couple" name dropping. In fact there are no names listed anywhere in her review. When Joanne Kates refers to Franco Prevedello in a completely unrelated review of a restaurant, now THAT'S name dropping.

                But I will agree here that I disliked the tone of this particular review. It actually reeked of condescension and cultural insensitivity.

                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                  no, name dropping probably isn't really a good description. but i thought those names helped with the condescension and were false ways of name dropping. ie. because i'm calling them the gourmand couple i can justify their exemplary taste and therefore if they dont' like it this place sucks. calling someone a skeptic from the start already colours the review.

                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                      I'm going to put in a word of defence for Gina Mallet if I can slag Susur Lee, why the hell not, eh?). I no longer read the Post, but I thought she did an adequate job when I did (I stopped about 3 or 4 years ago), but then she was doing more food than resto reviews. I do recommend her book Last Chance to Eat. I can't say that I agreed with everything she wrote, but it was one of the more stimulating pieces of food writing that I had read in quite some time. It was in the best way thought provoking.

            2. You might want to check out Gina Mallet's book, "Last Chance to Eat," winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for writing on food.