TILLY SMITH prevents her hotel client from souping up a lawsuit against a restaurant critic
One of my clients who owns a hotel was very proud of the new chef he’d just employed.
On the day I went to interview the chef to write our food release, he went Russian on me. Everything he served contained potato – from the pancake starters to the potato bake with fish, to the dessert of (potato) blini with cream and honey. In winter, this might have worked but on a hot summer’s day, I’d hoped for light, sexy cuisine.
I mentioned this to the client, who had a word with the chef. I was assured he’d watch the seasons especially when the food critics came charging through the gates in response to my media blitz.
The chef (Italian) MUST have had some Russian ancestry as he decided onions were to be the staple of every salad of the summer buffet, which a well-known food writer pointed out in his column. The writer’s partner had a spastic colon and the onion overload did not make for a romantic overnight visit to this hotel.
The owner of the hotel wanted to sue the writer for defamation in his ‘onion’ column but after much massaging of egos from this publicist, decided to give the critic ‘another chance’…
During the winter months, the writer revisited to review the winter cuisine only to find the lamb tough and the steak overdone. Kindly he decided to write about the positive aspects of his dining experience by praising the soup. When the words “delicious soup” appeared in his review, the client again threatened to sue the writer for making the luxury establishment sound like a soup kitchen!
I advised the client this would only draw further negative attention to the chef’s culinary shortcomings. However, it took 12 calls on the same day as I chewed my knuckles trying to convince the traumatised client that the writer had been extremely gracious by OMITTING the mostly negative aspects of his dining experience.
The food critic never returned to this establishment, even when a better chef took charge. He still speaks to me, though, for which I am eternally grateful!