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Thuet to open 'Conviction' w/ ex-con kitchen staff

Have you guys seen this Star article? I have my thoughts on why he's doing it, but what are your thoughts?


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  1. Publicity stunt at its best

    1. It's just so tasteless. It's one thing to give people a second chance (good for him), it's another to exploit them for a profile boost. Does anyone think this will actually build his cred as a chef and restaurant owner?

      1. absolute publicity stunt. recession has driven thuet to exploit convicts? a little lame to me. what ever happened to getting people in with just good food? this definetely does not deserve "credit", using the fact they've done time to make face for yourself isn't cool. let them go quietly back into the workforce. it's sad to see toronto is in such a state of culinary depression that no ones opening anything new to really drive our cuisine forward.

        3 Replies
        1. re: locachef

          I have heard Dangerous Dans hires ex-cons?
          Don't know if this is 100% sure, but by friends have told me.

          1. re: flying101

            There may be some truth here. When they first opened, and for some years thereafter, getting various kinds of riffraff out of the resto and away from the entrance was part of the staff's daily work.

          2. re: locachef

            I agree with locachef,let them go quietly back into the workforce.why get the media involved .With a tv reality show on the works,Thuet is really goin all out trying to make himself famous,with the likes of Jamie Oliver,and McEwan.

            Its not that I don't believe in giving ppl second chances,this is the wrong way of doing it.Thuet is exploiting these convicts,and in some time they will be able to see his real intentions,and will retaliate.
            I give them 3 generous months before things start turning sour.

          3. my original qualms about this, which remain, have to do with doubting thuet's long term commitment to these workers. i'm sure they will develop cooking and serving skills while on the job. i'm sure thuet will keep this going till the TV series is over. but then what? will these workers remain on stuff, in the positions they were placed? it's extremely difficult for ex-cons to get hired once out of prison - a few months stint at thuet's restaurant will not be enough, i'm afraid, to get long term meaningful employment.

            if thuet wanted to 'help out' as he says, why does there need to be a TV show? why publicize the fact taht you are employing ex-cons? why not just quietly hire them without the attention to their criminal past? there are businesses with a mandate to help reintegrate ex-prisoners through employment, and their success depends on discretion and lack of publicity.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Kasia

              then why have any cooking shows or shows like extreme makeover home edition why not do it whithout the show. because its entertaining and heart warming to see that kind of gratitude

              1. re: strappers

                regular cooking shows are entirely irrelevant to this discussion; as for extreme makeover home edition, i'd argue exactly the same points. i don't think it should be required of marginalized people to show gratitude for them to get what they should have - housing, jobs, opportunity etc. this is not about the ex-convicts, it is about thuet and his need for notoriety and publicity. and yes, i'm sure the show will be a success. but i think it's presumptuous to assume that the reason people will watch is because they care about ex-cons and their rehabilitation.

              2. re: Kasia

                it's a tv show. nuff said. let's not confuse reality or charity with self-promotion folks.

              3. "I did not want to do this interview. Wait, get my good side in this photo."

                5 Replies
                  1. re: strappers

                    Ive given Thuet 3 chances,his food is still mediocre.

                    In the restaurant business like any other business you need connections,it's a well known fact that by the food industry,that alot of high profile restaurants have associations with the local media,its just good business sense to do so.

                    You scratch my back(Give me free dinner so I can impress my gf) I'll scratch your (Good review,article,etc)

                    1. re: strappers

                      strapper, you appear to be new here since this is your first postings to Chowhound, but there has been much talk here and on other food boards going back many years since his first restaurant about Thuet and how his reincarnated restaurants at 609 King has been consistently disappointing both in service and QPR. So when you say give him a chance, how many chances do you give?

                      I've been 3-4 times and that's enough for me. Thuet and Biana beats to their own drums and seem pretty firm in believing they know best and so they change the sheets with each reincarnation, but beneath the sheets, we've found the same old bed.

                      1. re: syoung

                        How many incarnations has the space seen in their limited time of ownership. This is the 4th re-inventing, is it (thuet, thuet bistro, bite me, conviction)? I've lost track, it's ridiculous to be honest.......

                        Judging by their history, you can't expect "Conviction" to last beyond 1-2 yrs.

                        You also wonder what happened to some of his line cooks at Bite Me now that they've been replaced by reality show contestants.

                        1. re: aser

                          You raise a very good point Aser, in that what exactly did he do with the other staff? I agree with all the comments. Sorry Thuet, you will not be seeing me. I have no interest whatsoever.

                  2. Thuet ain't Jamie Oliver.

                    I don't know either one personally, but Oliver seems to be genuinely giving troubled young people a chance at a real career. There is formal training, with a stint at catering college before starting work. There is counseling. It didn't end with the TV series. Indeed, they are expanding the program.

                    Three Thuet restos have failed at this location. The Liberty Village place seems to have tanked and the Young St outpost is apparently nothing special.

                    So why not let a TV show fund attempt four? Conviction about "Conviction". We'll see. I doubt.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: embee

                      I guess Susur failed too.. since he renamed it "Madeline" and serves a cheaper menu?

                      One of the resons for change in the neighbourhood is the neighbourhood.. when Susur opened there were no nightclubs on the strip now everytime you spit you run into one.. not the atmosphere for fine dining so you adapt or die..

                      As for the show.. time will tell... but you know what it means to "Assume"...

                      1. re: OnDaGo

                        susur - madeline (2000-2009)

                        thuet - thuet bistro & bakery - bite me - conviction (2005-2009)

                        2 incarnations in 9 yrs versus 4 incarnations in 4 yrs.....I don't think I need to explain the difference.

                        Obviously you're a big Thuet fan, I respect that. Can you not respect other people's choice in avoiding the restaurant based on this? You seem to take this to heart quite personally.

                        Or else this chain will end up getting deleted too......For the record, I've been to Thuet once, 1st incarnation.

                        1. re: aser

                          And don't forget that the Susur-Madeline shift was for a fairly specific reason (at least, that was stated), in which Susur was moving to NYC to open Shang, and could no longer control the food the way he would have liked. Hence keeping Lee, with its more relaxed menu, unchanged.

                          Thuet is another story though.

                    2. Should be OK. No big deal. The con who mentioned grilled cheese and fish sticks is not necessarily typical. Lots of pens have good, working kitchens where cons really learn to cook.