Big bad chefs and their big bad attitudes »
Today in the New York Post, you can read this quote from Anthony Bourdain:
“I don’t know if it’s true,” says Bourdain. “But there’s a story that when customers started annoying [David Chang] by complaining about the lack of vegetarian options at [Momofuku] Noodle Bar, he changed the menu and put, like, pork in every dish.” (When asked for comment, Momofoku did not deny this claim.)
On the menu at Chang’s popular sister restaurant Momofuku Ssam Bar, there are sections dedicated to “Country Hams,” “Offal” and “Fish & Shellfish.” There are also notes that read “Please let us know if you have any food allergies,” “No substitutions or special requests” and “We do not serve vegetarian-friendly items.”
Right. On the other hand:
Not long ago, Le Pescadeux’s Perley recalls, his SoHo restaurant served turtle. No, they weren’t cooking turtle. Perley says a man brought his pet turtle—one of his few possessions left after a divorce—into the restaurant and asked the kitchen to prepare a raw hamburger patty for his shelled dining companion, “Sammy,” and a seafood entree for himself. The kitchen obliged.
What? What’s the problem? NO VEGETARIAN FOOD FOR YOU ASSHOLES, but cooking for some dude’s PET TURTLE? Sure, as long as it’s made of dead animal! That makes all the sense. After all, turtles won’t complain no matter what you put in front of them, but vegans are whiny babies who make requests, and we can’t have that!
You know, you all may be the rulers of your kitchens, but those are very tiny kingdoms, and frankly they sound incredibly unpleasant. So thanks, I guess; if you’re going to make me and my veg pals totally unwelcome, it’s terribly considerate of you to dispel any desire we might have of patronizing your restaurants, too. Seriously. I hope all your patrons are as lovely as you are.
And it’s all our fault that chefs are now forced to accommodate people with food allergies as well! The temerity, thinking we could go to non-veg restaurants and eat anything!
Fuck it, you guys; I’m growing my own wheat and never buying anything from anyone ever again. If no one wants our business, then they don’t have to have it. I mean it’s not like the majority of us don’t have tons of disposable income and a massive interest in food, am I right?
Even with darling Ezra Klein all excited about “haute vegetarian cuisine”—like that’s an term he and Jay Rayner coined over mustard ice cream and red cabbage gazpacho at the Fat Duck the other day—it seems like the story most people want to tell is that we’re all unbearable boors, who when we’re not protesting something naked, we’re demanding restaurants cater to our every whim whether they’ve yet to open or are neighborhood institutions. HOW DARE WE?
Like we’ve said here about a million times before, we’re consumers. If you want our business, please provide us with options. Most of the time—especially when it comes to pizzerias!—we can suggest options to you. Cruelty-free eating is going mainstream, whether you small-minded, murderous jerks want it or not. Our diets aren’t whims; they’re political and social action. Put them down all you like, but we’re not shutting up, we’re not going away, and we’re going to continue to go out and buy food—probably overall better food than you, too, considering how much thought goes into our eating already. If you want to keep picking these stupid fights, go ahead. You’ll lose business, and that’s not our problem. There are plenty of chefs with broader palates and minds, and they’re the ones who’ll thrive.
Try telling a different story than “Ugh, vegans are so annoying, they make restaurateuring so hard” next time. It is a boring story, and a total lie.