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Nov 21, 2012 02:41 PM

British Michelin Star Chefs Bully Reviewer

I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned at all around here.

Someone posted a review on Tripadvisor about the restaurant Hibiscus and chef Claude Bosi called the reviewer a c**t on his twitter account. The infuriating part for me is that his major crime was giving the place 3/5 stars. It was an average review and would have easily have been ignored since most reviews are 5/5 for Hibiscus. Not only was Claude heaping abuse but other 2-star chefs joined in.

The entitlement from these chefs is unbelievable. It's like anyone that thinks less then perfect of their places doesn't deserve to post anything ever. I don't know what anyone else thinks but I will say I will not eat anywhere with Claude Bosi, Tom Kerridge or Sat Bains in charge.

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  1. Bullying. You keep on using that word. I do not think you know what it means.

    From le Wiki, emphasis mine:

    Bullying may be defined as the activity of REPEATED aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.

    If you post criticism in a public place, be prepared for a backlash. Right, wrong, whatever, be prepared. That is all.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MandalayVA

      You're right, it sounds more like he was being a snotty a-hole instead of a bully. Also a prima donna.

      1. re: EWSflash

        I think that bullying can also include ganging up on someone, which is what happened when the other chefs piled on.

      2. re: MandalayVA

        Many articles have called the incident bullying and I'm just continuing that use. If you want me to call it incredible verbal abuse just so you don't ignore the substance then we can do that.

        For me the issue isn't that the blogger received a response. More that it seems entirely disproportionate to the review he posted.

      3. It is hardly the TripAdvisor review that has caused the furore but the guy's blog. As with many bloggers, he appears to have had "expectations", including getting his interview with Bosi during which he told the chef that his meal had been fine.

        I have eaten Bosi's food on three occasions (once dating back to before Hibiscus moved to London) and Bain's food once and I have a lot of respect for their work. This is not the first time that they have been short-tempered in public and, to my mind, it does their reputations no good at all. Of course, it provides further evidence, if such was needed, of the shallow nature of Twitter.

        By way of contrast with Isherwood, my last meal at Hibiscus was not brilliant. I wrote about it and managed not to incur the wrath of the chef. But then I only post to egullet and Chowhoud and not to a self-serving blog.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          Right but his blog has virtually zero audience and he didn't even post the link to his Tripadvisor review. What Claude did was call way more attention to it then the blogger would have ever dreamed to get from it. It's basically the Streisand Effect.

          But really aren't expectations reasonable when you're dining at a place with two Michelin stars? His review was mainly positive and really one had a problem with the starter. My main thing is why this specific review and not any of the one star reviews?

          1. re: Captainspirou

            I think it's because he ate there not as an ordinary punter like you or I might eat there. But had made himself known as a blogger to Claude previously and had been scheduled to interview Bosi. Seemingly what has pissed off Bosi is that, having got access to him on the night, he said everything was fine and wrote it up that everything was not fine. As you note, Isherwood is a new blogger with virtually zero audience and has got great publicity from this. It won't be the first time that one of my compatriots has got themselves lots of media time as a consequence of having a spat with a top chef.

            All that said, Bosi and the other chefs who have chimed in have shown themselves in a poor light. Again.

            BY the by, a link to my Chowhound post about our last meal there.

            1. re: Harters

              I agree with Harters here. My initial response to the situation was what has been stated by the IP. When you see more details on it though it looks like the blogger has been very underhand and not exactly forthcoming with the details. If you felt like you had been accommodating at the request of the individual who never raised any quibbles and received a poor review it would feel a bit like a stab in the back. There's an interesting discussion on eg ullet regarding the connection between blogging and PR.

              Without doubt there is ego in the kitchen and the chef's have not come out looking great but then they've always been temperamental. Marco would have been a liability if twitter existed in his hey day.

              1. re: AWaiting

                Some while back, I was invited to start contributing reviews to a website. It wa sput to me that, whilst the site couldnt afford to pay me, or even to refund the cost of meals, I would quickly be noticed by the local PR machine and freebie meals would be offered. Certainly the same availability of freebies seems to be definitely on offer to bloggers. There seems to be some doubt about the extent, if any, of the nature of freebies that were offered to Isherwood but perhaps we are all reminded of the old adage about "not biting the hand that feeds you".

                And, just to clarify my own position, I decided not to take up the offer from the website.

                1. re: Harters

                  I think we're assuming a lot of facts not in evidence, i.e. that the blogger got special treatment as part of a quid pro quo.

                  If he offered to write a positive review in exchange for preferential treatment then he may have been biting the hand that feeds him. If, on the other hand, they decided to use the blogger for their own PR purposes and are pissed that he wrote an honest review, then they've really got no gripe.

                  And finally, I don't see how the blogger could have done this with an eye to getting more publicity for himself. If the chefs hadn't started bashing him on Twitter, there's no reason to believe his review would have gotten any extra attention. I think it's a bit of a stretch to think that this guy wrote a three-star review for the purposes of provoking the chef to make it into an international controversy.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    What is not in dispute is that he is:

                    a) a blogger
                    b) a blogger who arranged to interview Bosi
                    c) a blogger who pre-announced his intention to eat there that night
                    d) a blogger who, on the night he ate there, got access to the chef for a chat

                    I have eaten at Hibiscus three times and am not a blogger, just an ordinary paying customer. As such, I doubt whether I would have got that sort of access to Bosi. Of course, he got special treatment.

                    If I was Bosi, I would also have been pissed off - although I like to think I might have reined in my temper over some no mark blogger's slight criticism of his meal. If he wanted a rant, he should have read what I posted on Chowhound after my last meal there!

                    1. re: Harters

                      I didn't say he didn't get preferential treatment, I'm saying that unless there was a specific offer that he would give a good review based on that treatment, they have no right to complain. Just because someone agrees to an interview doesn't mean the journalist is obligated to say only nice things about them. That's the difference between journalism and PR. Apparently the restaurant thought they were buying PR from this blogger. Or maybe they were just arrogant enough to assume he would be (a) flattered by their attention, or (b) blown away by his meal.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        You're right. It is the unholy relationship between bloggers and chefs which, IMO, is bedeviling the British dining scene. They deserve each other!

                        1. re: Harters

                          Reading this tonight, I think that Chef Bosi made the classic and sometime fatal mistake that most do in his business, when heads and egos suffer from Foie gras enlargement.

                          The customer is always right.

                          Solutions or paths that could have been been chosen:

                          1. The amateur critique could have simply been ignored. It ends.
                          2. The response could have been to state that they were working to try and accommodate the writer in the future. It also then ends.

                          Right or wrong it could have ended there. But it sounds by the excessive reaction as if the writer hit a nerve, or discovered a truth that was being concealed.

                          The mistake and quite a gross one at that, is to then go after the writer, and then as a further sign of weakness, gang-up on him repeatedly. One can only think that they must be very insecure regarding menu skills, and patron relationship to resort to this level of a personal attack. Any good business would never do this, especially including profanity. Try that with the Michelin guide review comes around.

                          Another olde adage to remember: If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.