Sky Full of Bacon

Did Steve Plotnicki Doom Laurent Gras?

That was the first thought I had when I read Rich Melman’s comment on Laurent Gras’s departure from L2O in The Stew (Aschie30 at LTHForum had it too):

“I had a customer call me, upset, because he’d made a special request, and nothing outrageous, and he (Gras) refused.”

Now, that could refer to a lot of things. But one of the things it could refer to was the incident that led to this epically preposterous thread on LTHForum, in which Plotnicki, a wealthy food blogger who likes to throw his weight around supposedly on behalf of all restaurant diners but, in my opinion, seems to mostly make his meal worse when he does, asked his L2O waiter to ask the chef to “cook for him.” Meaning, make something special just for his table and send it out at his choice.

While I’ve certainly asked chefs I know well to just send me out whatever they think I should have from the existing menu (and occasionally gotten something off menu in the process), it makes no sense in a restaurant where there’s a set menu already; the chef has already made his choices of the best things to be had, why ask him to whip up something on the fly as opposed to serving you what he’d been working on all day? How could you expect that to be better than simply ordering like a normal person? But don’t let me rehash it, read pages 6 through 12 and don’t miss this parody in another thread.

So anyway, Plotnicki certainly fits the profile of the customer who might have raised a stink directly to Melman (and gotten through). The problem is, Plotnicki’s complaint is completely wrongheaded to my mind, and while part of being Melman, Gras or L2O is properly handling the wealthy with weight to throw around, that doesn’t mean you should actually listen to them. Anyway, for all that people rag on bloggers as sleazy little pajama-clad toads who demand freebies, I’ve never ever seen a blogger of my socioeconomic status try that (let alone succeed). But here was a guy who was already in the Rich Pain In The Ass Customer category, which long predates the internet, now amplified even louder by his blog. If his complaints did play a significant role in souring Gras’ and Melman’s relationship, then they represent a new menace to adventurous chefs with a strong personal vision everywhere.

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One Response to “Did Steve Plotnicki Doom Laurent Gras?”

  1. anonymous Says:

    I’ll admit, I read through much of that lth thread. This (alleged) diner seems to think that he’s in control of the dining experience. To some degree he is. Problem is, he’s no different than any other self-important diner, rich or poor, who believes that they should be even more in control of the experience. L2o is too classy to have “no substitutions” at the bottom of the menu–they’ve gone out on a limb and given the diner the benefit of the doubt that they’re not going to go swapping ingredients for this or that. Bullying your way around at the table is the same thing. This disclaimer often appears at the middle and lower ends of menus because a line needs to be drawn in the sand, not out of pretentiousness on the part of the establishment but because of the diner’s proclivities to change things around to suit themselves. This urge often comes from boredom and self-entitlement. Then, after some accommodating chefs meet such demands, the catered-to are still, often, not happy. No matter how sophisticated or simple the experience. Yes, it’s about you but you are a GUEST. If alleged L2o’er were such a wealthy and sophisticated diner, guess what he could (have) done? Hired Gras to cook in his home/estate. What are the chances of Gras having turned down such a request? I’d guess, L2 zero. Then, the diner/chef relationship has the potential to be more tailored to alleged diner’s tastes as Gras is now a GUEST in diner’s house. Sound crazy? Happens all the time. I’d also expect wealthy food bloggers to take photos with expensive lenses so that the food shots from the expensive restaurants they capture are reflected on a level that is deserved. There’s more than one way to muck-up a chef’s hard work with your bitter words on a blog but now I stray.

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