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May 20, 2011 12:51 PM

Negative racial stereotypes in Journal de Montreal review of Le Piment Rouge

This is a continuation of the Piment Rouge review at:

The Journal de Montreal review in question by Thierry Daraize is located at:

I don't believe the Journal de Montreal article. Our group had a wonderful dinner at Piment Rouge in March, and a great business dinner there a couple of weeks ago. Le Devoir, the Gazette and CBC all recently had good reviews. If Thierry Daraize didn't like the creme brulee or the mango pastries, he could have just said that. Instead, he plays on ugly racial stereotypes to presumably stir even more controversy for his tabloid audience: «Hong, pas gâteau du chef aujourd’hui» and «Hong, non, non, non, pas dessert chinois, pas bon Monsieur, dessert chinois pas sûr, chef change, moi recommande dessert mangue». I doubt other papers would ever allow this to be published, but imagine if the Gazette said the same in English: “Ching chong, no chef cakee today” or “Ching chong, no, no, no, no Chinee dessert today, no good mister, no sure Chinese dessert, me recommend dessert mango.” I think it's Journal de Montreal who deserves half a star rating, not Piment Rouge.

The chowhound moderators asked me to move this discussion to the Food Media and News Section: "We're sorry, but we had to remove your post (below). We try to keep our regional boards focused on where to find great chow. Unfortunately your post isn't about the chow -- it's about the review. Those discussions -- even about local reviews -- go on our Food Media and News board."

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    1. The journal de Montreal has the reputation of being a horrible tabloid paper that targets the uneducated "purelaine", a never saw a Quebecer use that term IRL, but people who use that term tends to be less educated.

      But, even a tabloid shouldn't be allowed to slur against any people like this. This is deeply offending.

      1. re: celfie

        celfie, what's your ethnic background?

        I'm not Chinese, but if someone started calling me Guido and making fun of the way my Italian family talked, I would think it's in very poor taste and discriminatory. So why is it acceptable for a French guy like Thierry Daraize to mock the way a Chinese person talks and call him "hong" or "ching chong"?

        It's even worse that Daraize uses these racial slurs to promote his career and the money-making business of the Journal de Montreal.

        1. re: VinnyRW

          Love to see him reprise this act in TO!

      2. I don't know what's more shocking - that the papers there are allowed to print such stuff, or the fact that some folks there do not even find it offensive. Guess I'm lucky I don't live in that part of the world.

        4 Replies
        1. re: klyeoh

          Wait a minute though, perhaps he was simply quoting what the server actually said? Everyone is so politically correct that sometimes things are taken too damn badly.

          I have never been to Piment Rouge (although I wanted to as a child because of the commercials) but so many bad reviews can't simply be blamed on "racism"......

          1. re: humbert

            There is no excuse for racism however subtle or innocent it may be. I tend to agree with klyeoh - it's even more shocking that some don't realize how badly even subtle racism can hurt others and create second class people. I doubt this is a direct quote - I've been to Piment Rouge several times, and the managers and servers are completely fluent in French and English (though some of the bussers are not) - most of them are not even Chinese. I don't understand why a journalist would publish such outrageous comments.

            As far as I know, there has only been one bad media review of Piment Rouge - the Journal de Montreal review. All the others that have been mentioned by others (The Gazette, CBC, RDI, Le Devoir, China Air flight magazine, etc.) have been very good to excellent.

            1. re: HappyMtl

              That doesn't mean that the writer wasn't actually quoting the server though, bad review or not.

              1. re: humbert

                I don't care about the bad review, or Piment Rouge for that matters, as a grad student, I don't have the disposable income to dine there.

                The thing is, there is no way that "Hong", which you may know by its English Equivalent of "chingchong", would fit into a conversation.

        2. That is so disgusting and unprofessional it's shocking. I can't believe something like that was written and then an editor and publisher decided to run with it.

          1. Can't really comment.


            I don't know this reviewer (and not really in the mood to go through his previous reviews). Some critics tend to go closer to the line than others. For all I know this may be the norm for him. It doesn't make it right, but it'd be stupid to read his reviews if I disapproved.

            I'm not fluent enough in French to follow the whole thing. Sure, I can just run it through a translator, but things get lost in translation.

            Culture. It's (French) Canada. What's acceptable there may not be here and vice versa.

            One thing this reminds me of is when Steven Colbert did something similar, and that was on a satirical TV show, where interpretation isn't often lost. My impression was that the reviewer was trying to be funny, but it got lost in print and stuff. Also... Not very offensive in the first place. I'd equate it to using ebonics or trailer-trash slang for a review of a southern place, a heavy Brooklyn tone for a NYC place, and so on.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ediblover

              Context is important. We're discussing a restaurant review, not stand up comedy with Steven Colbert or Chris Rock. There are no expectations of journalistic standards and ethics in stand up comedy. A black comedian making fun of other black men on stage is funny. A white French journalist pretending to report the truth, but in fact twists and distorts the truth at the expense of an ethnic minority group and to the detriment of a restaurant (and all the staff who depend on that restaurant to pay rent and feed their families) is not funny.

              Yeah, Journal de Montreal is a low-class tabloid that panders to a certain audience, but that doesn't excuse them from certain minimum standards of truthfulness, impartiality, fairness, accountability to the public, etc. And IMO, this journalist is not reporting what he really saw and heard - as vanierstudent said, what Chinese person would call himself/herself "hong" (or "ching chong" in English), and how can a thriving restaurant that has been around for decades be the complete and utter disaster he claims when other recent mainstream media reviews have been positive?

              Also, on this tabloid's website, readers can add their comments to the restaurant review (at least that's what they claim, subject to removal for violations of netiquette). Several of us in the office yesterday morning submitted some polite comments that respectfully disagreed with his views. Other comments got added throughout the day, but it should come as no surprise that none of our comments were published - and of course only those that agreed with him were published. Funny. Maybe Thierry Daraize should be a stand up comedian.

              1. re: HappyMtl

                On the review, as long as he validated his opinion, it's a solid review. One may not agree with it, but if it makes sense, it makes sense. Even all-time greats in a category had their detractors. (I can go on and on about how "It's a Wonderful Life" is awful.) Course, this is assuming that he did back up his rating/review with valid comments.

                On the comments, safe to say this comes down to vantage points. Probably not the best comparison, but I'm reminded of Gilbert Gottfried and his comments/jokes on twitter about the tragedy in Japan. What he said is just part of who he is - It's his schtick. I didn't agree with the response (and firing), but I can understand the reaction. Pretty much the same thing here. I can see why people would find the comments to be offensive, but I think it's going overboard.