OK, here’s the thing; I just finished reading Pete Wells’ “New York Times” critique of Guy Fieri’s restaurant, located in New York’s, Times Square. While the article was one of the funniest restaurant reviews that I have ever laid eyes upon, Wells should be ashamed of inflicting pain on those he reviews.
Now I’m not a restaurant critic; in fact, I’m not very good at criticizing any subject, in any stretch of the imagination. I’ll leave that task for people that are better than I, at passing judgment on others.
Anyway, I probably disqualify myself as a critic due to my tendency to see the cup as half-full. Nevertheless, I’m going to try to take an amateur shot, and join one of the more interesting conversations presently circulating on the web; that is, the discussion surrounding the New York Times critique of “Guys American Kitchen & Bar.”
Perhaps you’ll find it useful to know that I didn’t read “The New York Times” article until I first read, “Slate.com’s” interesting critique of the “Times” article and its author, Pete Wells.
J. Bryan Lawder, writing for “State,” wrote; “Late yesterday afternoon, I read “New York Times” food critic Pete Wells’ evisceration of Guy Fieri’s new Midtown slop trough with unabashed glee. Interesting, I’m not the only one that found Well’s piece humorous.
Lowder goes on to make several common axiomatic points about Fieri, his establishment, and the state of overpriced restaurants in Times Square.
Then Lawder fixated his attention squarely on Pete Wells and what he called “a wasted review.”
Fairly early in Lawder’s piece, he briefly makes tasteful use of the interrogative mood, asking: “What if the purpose of Wells’ piece—and many other works of criticism, for that matter—isn’t to convince, to educate or, God forbid, to provide something as dull as service journalism? What if his review is merely an example of a talented writer responding to an offensive thing in a way that pleases him?”
Lawder’s brief, yet troubling observation is pretty straightforward. It unambiguously suggested that Pete Wells rather delighted in the exercise of creatively lambasting Guy Fieri and his restaurant. The piece, while masquerading as a restaurant review was in reality a kind of self-endorsement exhibition of Well’s own genius and ability to entertain.
Even more troubling was the sad commentary on the restaurant critic profession, as one of its members sees himself as above reproach, taking the liberty to shame its subject in order to acquire personal gain. I think this is what Lawder’s argument, implicit but deliberate, points out. And though I’m no expert in journalism, I nevertheless imagine, a newspaper’s primary objective is to point out injustice wherever it may be found. Therefore, I interpreted Lawder’s efforts as a step in that direction.
Next, I read Wells’ critique of Guy Fieri’s restaurant. Let me reiterate, it was quite a funny piece.
Actually, it was hilarious, right from the start. For instance, Wells ask,”GUY FIERI, have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square?… When you saw the burger described as “Guy’s Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche,” did your mind touch the void for a minute?” I hollered; I could envision something tasting so awful that my mind touch an indescribable “void.”
Well’s critique spans two full pages of one after another deeply humiliating and embarrassing jabs at Fieri and his establishment. I found myself conflicted between two worlds; one of pain and the other, uncontrollable laughter; especially where Wells asks, “Somewhere within the yawning, three-level interior of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, is there a long refrigerated tunnel that servers have to pass through to make sure that the French fries, already limp and oil-sogged, are also served cold?”
When I reached the end of the piece, I realized two things.
First, Pete Wells is in the wrong business. He’s a comedy writer, not a restaurant critic. And second, you would think that a restaurant critic or any critic for that matter would have an above average measure of integrity. Wells doesn’t have it, because he seems to not only enjoy the humor, but worst yet, I’m afraid he enjoys the pain it undoubtedly inflicted on Fieri. Talk about enjoying one’s job.
As I sat back, I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if someone in Hollywood, upon reading Well’s piece, would call him, and offer the critic a comedy writing job, right on the spot. Moreover, wouldn’t it be the wildest thing, if Wells not only accepted the offer, but threw a few bucks Fieri’s way in an effort to somewhat redeem himself.
Oh well, I told you, I see the cup as half-full, thus, I’m hopeful there’s a Hollywood comedy producer that sees the cup half-full too.
By DiMarkco Chandler