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How Chefs Feel About Roy Choi’s Zero Star Review From The NYT

Recently, a New York Times food critic made headlines by slapping Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson’s Locol restaurant with a zero-star review.

If you’re unfamiliar with Locol, the chefs opened the fast food restaurant with the intentions of bringing wholesome, affordable food to economically challenged areas, referred to as “food deserts,” such as Oakland and Watts, California.

The Times’ Peter Wells was not impressed by the restaurant, at all, and sparked a conversation about whether it was a fair assessment of the restaurant.

From the notion that he was unnecessarily harsh to a “fast food” restaurant, to the defense that the food should be better considering the famous faces behind the restaurant, opinions were flying out left and right.

We reached out to some highly-respected chefs, and also took to social media to get a sense of what the culinary brotherhood had to feel about the review.

Chefs have to deal with critics all the time, from newspapers to Yelp reviews, so they know what it’s like to take on harsh criticism. For the most part, the chefs felt the review was a bit of a stunt to bring attention to the newspaper, but there was also an overarching feeling that there is still a lot of value to what the chefs are trying to do with the restaurant.

Check out some chef reactions below and see if you agree:

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Andrew Gruel – Slapfish

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“I think we are giving way too much attention to this review. Obviously Wells reviewed this place because he knows he needs to create controversy in order to continue to entice readers. He is one step away from creating click-bait at the expense of chefs like Roy Choi.

With that said, I think all fast-food/fast-casual joints are fair game for reviews — negative or positive, they will draw customers to see what all the commotion is all about and that’s the real chance to win your guests. People saying he shouldn’t have reviewed the restaurant because of Choi’s altruistic perspective is bullshit. It’s a restaurant and should be treated with all the same standards as any other restaurant.

In our digital world, Yelp is more powerful in the long run, so let Mr. Wells try and keep creating fake food news.”

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Eddie Huang – BaoHaus

I received a 0 star @nytimes review, I pooped on Red Rooster, it’s important to hold people accountable even a saint like @RidingShotgunLA 🙏

— Eddie Huang (@MrEddieHuang) January 5, 2017

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Linh Nguyen – Crave 410

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“In my opinion the overall tone of the review was a bit harsh. Anyone who employs at-risk teens in a poverty stricken neighborhood deserves at least 4 stars.

As chefs, we are prepared to envision menus based on demographics, cost, availability and other variables. Reading some of the menu items LocoL provides I can see where the chefs were going based on flavor profiles, availability, and especially food cost. At the the end of the day, they humbled themselves with zero egos , bringing a seemingly impossible idea to fruition. They challenged corporate fast food on their own turf with healthier options at the same price point.

If that’s not ‘punk’ as fuck, I don’t know what is!

Also, The NY Times brought up good sentiments about the restaurant as well as even recommending items at the end of the article. It almost feels that Pete Wells wanted to give LocoL a couple stars. Maybe zero stars was intended to shock and get the article a little more shine.”

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Aron Habiger – Cooking on the Lam

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“When a reviewer comes in for a chef like Roy Choi or Daniel Patterson, the expectations are set at a certain bar. Any time they open a new restaurant, there’s pressure… the limelight is put on you, the pressure’s on, and you know you really have to nail it out of the gate. You expect, the minute they open that door, that it’s spot-on.

I feel bad when I see a really bad review for chefs. I know it hurts, ’cause I’ve been in those shoes, too.”

David Chang – Momofuku

David Chang with the subtweet here, but we do all know who he was talking about. He also jumped on Instagram and posted a photo of Locol, hashtagging it #welocol.

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#welocol

A photo posted by Dave Chang (@davidchang) on

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Jason Quinn – The Playground DTSA

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“That’s pretty brutal. I feel as if Pete Wells makes a fantastic point, but I think it would have been better not to write the review. These are two great chefs, opening alternatives to the evil of McDonald’s, and getting shit on.

Not only have some people “forgotten” about these demographics, no one seems to be concerned about their health.

I always thought it was very bold of Choi and Patterson to take on this venture. Always admired their dedication to feeding the masses, and didn’t know how it would end up. I certainly didn’t think the New York Times food critic would come out to write about them.”

Categories
Adventures Celebrity Grub Features Restaurants

I Went To A Wu-Tang Dinner That Was Nothing To F*ck With

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This Wu-Tang Clan-themed pop-up dinner was nothing to fuck with. That’s for sure.

Mesa Lounge, a restaurant and bar located in Costa Mesa, CA, is known for having various chefs come in and hold pop-up dinners. One of the most recent ones we were fortunate enough to be invited to was hosted by our very own chef Linh Nguyen. The theme: The Wu-Tang Clan.

Mesa has a monthly rotating chefs table that’s music themed. When the Wu-Tang theme was brought up, the Mesa staff thought it would be appropriate for me to guest chef, because of my love for hip-hop and being the former executive chef at the Crosby.

The Crosby was a very hip-hop-fluenced restaurant venue that was located in Downtown Santa Ana. The restaurant closed its doors in early 2014, though many people still remember it fondly.

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Linh’s passion for Wu-Tang goes way back.

My love for hip-hop culture started when I was around 10. I was DJing at 12 and the first time I heard the Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) record I was awestruck. It was one of the first albums I bought in ’93: the Golden Era of hip-hop. It was an album where every verse was dope and every track could get played till my record was worn.

With the help of fellow chefs Ashley Guzman, Aron Habiger, and Mesa mixologist Katerina Mikoultchik, Linh set forth creating his Wu-Tang Dinner. He even got blessing from Wu-Tang affiliate, Killah Priest.

Killah Priest gave me the blessing for the #WUTANG #chefstable August 31st wed @mesalounge Happy bday Killah!

A photo posted by Chef Linh Nguyen (@cheflinhnguyen) on

Here’s what was on the menu, with each dish cleverly named after a Wu-Tang track close to Linh’s heart. The Warrior is the hero of the course and the Spirit is the alcoholic pairing to accompany it.

Can It All Be So Simple

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Warrior: Roasted Tokyo Turnips, Miso Brown Butter, Black Sesame, Turnip Greens, Crunch Garlic

Spirit: Anna de Codorniu, Sparkling Cava

Ooh Baby I Like It Raw

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Warrior: Hamachi, Blood Orange, Quinoa, Compressed Melon, Mint, Chili Threads

Spirit: Rum, Montenegra, Blood Orange, Lemon, Thyme

Da Mystery Of Chessboxin

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Warrior: 6 Minute Scotch Egg, Bulgogi Sauce, Kimchi Puree, Shiso, Furikake.

Spirit: Gin, Melon, Lemon, Shiso Mint, “Smoke”

Wu-Tang Clams Ain’t Nuthing To F*** With

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Warrior: Manila Clams, Spanish Chorizo, Tomato, Fennel, Harisa, Thai Basil

Spirit: Tequila, Grapefruit, Lemon, Cucumber, Thai Basil, Jalapeno

Tri-Umph

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Warrior: Wakame, Tri Tip, Burnt Onion, Rainbow Carrots, Carrot Top Pistou, Fried Enoki, Radish Sprouts

Spirit: Smith & Hook, Cabernet Sauvignon

C.R.E.A.M. (by Ashley Guzman)

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Warrior: Hazelnut Dacquise, Caramel, Namelaka, Black Truffle Ice Cream, Edible Gold

Spirit: Apple Brandy, Aged Rum, Vanilla, Falernum, Ancho Reyes, Nitro Cold Brew, Chocolate Bitters

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The meal was accompanied by a live band playing Wu-Tang covers and featured Chef Nguyen coming out to chat with his patrons and guide them through each course. Fellow Foodbeast Molly and I were throughly impressed with the concept, even after going to many tastings and dinners ourselves over the years.

Here’s what she had to say:

I think the dinner says a lot about how food and the way it is experienced is changing. The food was both inspired by and paired with their music and, to me, it felt like with this dinner we were essentially experiencing a crossover of multiple mediums, and considering and digesting multiple artistic aspects. In other words, I really liked how engaging the experience was.

Shout out to the Wu-Tang dinner crew for the outstanding dinner. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

(Guzman, Nguyen, Habiger)

wutang-crew

Categories
#foodbeast FOODBEAST Hit-Or-Miss

Foodbeast Is Donating Proceeds From ‘Family Dinner’ To Less Fortunate

Foodbeast’s mission is obvious—we strive to offer value to our audience via the food-centric entertainment and information we provide via our food news stories, recipe videos, miscellaneous eating adventures, and of course, #foodporn. Some people are familiar with us from a mixture of all of these, while some know us best for one single channel. Above everything, you should know our hearts and souls lie with foodit’s what wakes us up in the morning, and it’s what sweetly tucks us into our beds every night.

We aren’t very into the idea of taking the food on our plates for granted, because at the end of the day, we know that there are individuals in this world who can hardly even pay for their groceries. These same individuals do not have the means to keep their children in school regularly. These same individuals cannot even afford a home. And even more, these individuals are living right in our own backyard.

Being based in Santa Ana, we are incredibly aware of how many are affected by homelessness in our beloved Orange County. It hurts to see your own community, your own family, in such a painful situation. Hence, this is the premise for our Foodbeast Family Dinner series—we wanted to somehow bring together our community, our family, to show support for those who are struggling each and everyday just to make ends meet. And it just so happens that food is the perfect way to bring people together.

We knew that we wanted to specifically benefit the Project Hope Alliance for our first philanthropic dinner, as the Costa Mesa-based non for profit organization has worked tirelessly to end the cycle of homelessness for children and their families in Orange County for over 25 years. We also knew that Chef Linh Nguyen would be able to create the perfect menu for the evening, one built around a comfortable, family-style palette, yet was very much “Foodbeast-worthy.”

Now all that’s left is bringing our community—our family—together, at the dinner table. We cordially invite you to be a part of our family too, and show your support and strength for those who need it most. See the details of the dinner below:

Who: Foodbeast x Chef Linh Nguyen x Project Hope Alliance x Melissa’s Produce x Goose Island Beer Co.
What: Foodbeast Family Dinner, Volume One (benefitting Project Hope Alliance)
Where: Foodbeast Studio Kitchen in the 4th Street Market
When: Saturday, July 2, 2016 (two sessions: 5pm and 8pm)
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

Korean BBQ Style 6 Minute Scotch Egg

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KBBQ makes everything better, even the incredible, edible egg. Welcome to Flavor Town, y’all.


Cajun Gumbo Pot Pie

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Southern Comfort, comfortably concealed within a humble pot pie. There’s also just a hint of kick to keep things spicy.


Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf Moco Loco

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You’re definitely going to want to hop on this Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf Moco Loco-motive. Next stop: the gravy train.

Grilled Peach Bread Pudding with Sticky Toffee Caramel & Toasted Meringue

Apologies for not having some visuals here, but we’re pretty sure you can only imagine what this dirty ditty is going to look/taste like—HEAVEN.