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Omnivore - The Angry Chef's 7-course response to John Kessler's open letter to Atlanta chefs

Ron eyester responds to the AJC's dining critic

Image On Monday, the AJC's lead dining critic John Kessler posted an open letter to Atlanta chefs. Here's my response:

Dear Mr. Kessler,

I too write this letter with respect. While you indeed make some very valid points in your letter, I think giving us a “how to” list of tasks to work on is perhaps a bit much. There is no denying that we can always do better. Improving should be a cornerstone of every chef’s personal and professional mantra. Moreover, no matter how bitter and jaded some of us (chefs) are, most of us are very committed to sharing our passion for food with our guests. I agree, when we take the time to eat a meal, we should allow that time, no matter how short it is, to transcend us to place absent of all stress and dilemmas. Is this a practical aspiration?? Probably not, but it’s certainly worth trying. While I took the time to read your list of pleas, I
would implore you to have a taste of these 7 courses:

1. Perhaps you’re pointing your finger at the wrong folks? If you expect us to “game up,” then perhaps your employer should as well. If you want to get the dining public excited about eating in our city maybe the food section should be more than 3 pages, and maybe one of those pages shouldn’t be Kroger coupons. Here’s a surprise for you, before we actually start serving butternut (or African) squash soup to you when it’s in season, we read about it first in your publication. In fact, Elizabeth Moore will usually
start hounding me for a recipe sometime in late August in hopes will see it in print in the AJC. It’s a vicious cycle brother; it’s going to take more than a few chefs to really change the landscape here. Maybe the influence of the press can give us a hand? Moreover, how should chefs really react to you being the restaurant critic again? My interpretation is that the AJC doesn’t hold critiquing restaurants in very high regard…If it did, it would have sought out a fresh voice, and a not so familiar face. Talk about taking the “game” out of something.

2. How well do you really know Atlanta and its diners? Just because you presented your “declaration of dining” in an idiot proof numerical format doesn’t mean it’s that easy. On a daily basis we are compelled to deal with a barrage of “dining obstacles.” And that’s before we get to people’s personal taste. Furthermore, we’re chefs, not personal physicians. Don’t kid yourself, people would rather eat what’s not good for them at our places instead of in the own homes because it comes with less guilt and accountability. Just call me Pusherman.