Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Get 'Em Julia
The Times can't be stopped. I loved this article by Julia Moskin and the subsequent response. Basically, she recounts her personal experience as a ghost writer and chefs are mad. Batali's people responded saying he authored his books and I wouldn't dispute that. Homie is a real chef as evidenced by his restaurants, but I'd much rather see Batali throwing bombs at Investment Bankers as opposed to co-signing Gwyneth Paltrow's bull shit career in food. Ay Julia! Get em girl...
I remember the time I was offered a ghost writer and I responded the same way I did as a 19 year old being offered a wire: "fuck you". On the contrary, for people who considers themselves Chefs and not writers, there's no shame in having a ghost writer, just own up to it. When Julia Moskin pulls your card, shut the fuck up and laugh at the bank. You can't have it both ways. Either write the book yourself or take it on the face when people clown you. It's the same with TV, if you want to go on tv and act a fool, you better expect someone to tell jokes on Eater. It's part of the DEAL.
Further more, I see these James Beard nominations for magazines and it's a joke. There's one paper you should read if you care about the culture of food and it's the New York Times. From Sifton to Wells to Moskin, they're tearing down an industry built largely on lies. Every one I know in the industry talks about the "hot", "trendy", "industry approved" restaurants and never been to Arthur Ave, Sheepshead Bay, 8th Ave, etc. We talk about sous-vide before most people even know how to velvetize chicken. Simple and nuanced just isn't enough I guess... If Murray's Falafel was owned by Alex Stupak, you food writers would be all over it. Instead, it quietly makes the best falafel, laffa, and some strange no calorie blue lemonade. There's a few people like Kat Kinsman and Robert Sietsema who hit the pavement, but the places the rest of you co-sign and focus on are bourgie, cookie cutter, made for "foody" shit shows. This article wasn't just about cook books and ghostwriters, but an overarching issue with our industry: there are too many gate keepers.
It's all smoke and mirrors because there are layers and layers between the artist and the consumer. I can't draw, other wise I'd give you a flow chart, but it goes like this:
Owner/Restauraneur/Chef > The Public Facing Partner > The Manager > The Agent > The Publicist > The Network > The Ghostwriter > The Print Magazine > The Newspaper > The Online Version > The Youtube Component > The Blog that Marcus Samuelsson Doesn't Write For > The Twitter run by the Assistant > The Facebook run by the flavor of the month > The Yelp page run by the head cashier > The consumer
We don't speak to the sources anymore. You gain a certain level of notoriety and the people you employe want you to create buffers and barriers. I've hired The Door and they're the best, but as an artist, writer, and a cook, I still have to know when to say "no". If you don't own your voice, someone else will. They don't run my life or my business, I do... If you a cook and consider yourself an artist, never forget that every one around is here to drive home YOUR vision. Once ghost writers, managers, and agents tell you who you are, you're done. When I was asked to do a book, every one wanted me to write a cookbook in the vein of Momofuku cause I also have slanted eyes, but I'm not Chang and I don't need Meehan. That said, I bought the book, read it in 3 hours, and it's the best cookbook I've ever read not written by Pei Mei. Chang's a futuristic dick head, but him and Meehan are undeniably ill. Instead of a doing a cook book, I switched agents, found someone that believed in me (WHAT UP MARC GERALD) and wrote a 60 page proposal for a memoir about my life that sold in 12 days. That's what happens when you keep it real and refuse to let those around you fuck it all up. The cosmos rewards you. If you're a writer, write. If you're a chef, cook. And if you're neither, get me a coconut ciroc with pineapple juice. Until then, fight the power. Fight the mother fucking power yall!!!
For all you clowns who got your panties in a bunch because Pete Wells gave Shake Shack one-star, eat a dick with Big Gay Ice Cream on top. If the burger is as good as something at a one-star restaurant and reflects value for what you paid, it's starred. End of story. I have no investment in the Times, the assholes gave me a goose egg for fuck's sake. I just know honesty when I see it and these guys are on one right now. Go New York, go New York, go...