For several weeks, writer Joshua David Stein, has been pondering exactly how to phrase his experience eating at the newly awarded two-star Michelin restaurant Brooklyn Fare. He pours over every word in his open letter to the much-acclaimed Chef Ramirez, while sitting at his laptop sipping on a cup o’ joe.
He “took some time” to “order [his] thoughts,” according to his post later in the day on Grub Street. Because he tries “not to act impulsively or rashly,” unlike Ramirez, he adds.
Then he publishes the letter in the New York Press and everyone can read about his terrible tale of dining in the presence of the abusive two-star chef.
In Stein’s open letter to Ramirez, titled “Brooklyn Unfare,” he tells the story of taking his wife out for her birthday. However during the meal, he decides to start scribbling notes in his notebook under the table (apparently she’s not a talker). Ramirez, already irritated by Stein snapping photographs earlier in the evening walks over and allegedly says “I don’t know where you f-ing cook, but you’ll never replicate this. I’ve been watching you disrespect my kitchen all night. You’ll never be able to do what I do…Why are you taking notes? That’s some sneaky s—.”
Good thing Stein had his notebook out so he could get the exact quote.
The article immediately gets posted on Eater, creates a firestorm of comments, prompting Ramirez to respond on Grub Street where Stein defends his earlier accusations by continuing to blast and dirty Ramirez’s character as a human being.
Seriously? First of all Stein claims to be a resident of Brooklyn. Someone yells at you in public and it takes you two weeks to write a letter defending yourself? That’s some pretty thin skin for a Brooklyn resident. On top of that, Stein doesn’t review restaurants and talks about how uncomfortable he feels surrounded by the procession of fine dining-apparently a nervous note-taker.
Working in a kitchen can be incredibly stressful-focusing on execution, presentation, temperature etc. There is little time to mince words. People can become blunt. Adrenaline flows. There is always plenty of time to kiss and make-up after service. I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful it is cooking in front of a crowd staring at you like you’re some sort of movie star-snapping photos, commenting, talking about you like they’re staring at a museum exhibit. It has to be exhausting. There has to be something driving a person to take on the role of restaurant manager, chef, celebrity, and performance artist(?). There has to be ego. Without it, a place like this couldn’t survive-wouldn’t even exist.
Chefs don’t have the luxury of taking time to order their thoughts. If they did, no one would ever come to the restaurant. Just imagine going somewhere for dinner and two weeks later you finally get to eat. Ramirez is right. “Ridiculous.”