We recently got an e-mail from Sze Chuen, manager of Almond Flower bistro, the restaurant that chef Chris Cheung recently departed. Sze didn’t mince words: He accused Cheung of being a lazy, self-promoting “mediocre talent” who “thought he was Gordon Ramsay.” It ended by telling us to “please get the story straight and just say he was fired for being himself. I would hope he doesn’t find another victim in his scheme to promote himself.” We asked Cheung for his response and, while waiting for it via e-mail, received a call from the astonished (and apparently tipped-off) co-owner of Almond Flower Joe Lam. “We love Chris!” he told us. “We just parted over philosophical differences what that manager said was egregious, unacceptable, unprofessional. He will be fired as soon as my brother gets back from Hong Kong on Monday.” When Cheung himself got back to us, he just seemed bewildered: “I worked with [Sze] for only a period of a week and we had no working relationship to speak of. I can only respond that the entire letter is untrue.”
The original letter from Sze is so over-the-top that it deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
I would like to comment on this article. I am the new manager of Almond Flower Bistro. I would just like to get my side of the story across. Chris Cheung was not a partner in the restaurant and did not have any interest in the restaurant business, except in using it as a vehicle to promote himself. The food cost for the dishes that he served was an astronomical 58 percent. That is the number that he gave me when I came to this restaurant. Chris thought he was Gordon Ramsay because he wasn’t cooking any of the food and was sitting in the back office typing emails all day to try and promote himself. He was giving the food away to passers-by to showcase his mediocre talent as a chef. His management skills leave much to be desired in terms of getting a profit for his partners. He was one of seven people in a kitchen that served bistro food to a semi-packed house of a 50-seat restaurant, and it took an average of 90 minutes to get the entree out. In the world of fine dining this would be normal, but in Chinatown, this is called bad service. And at the prices he was charging to get the food out, this was suicide. So don’t say that he left on his own. Please get the story straight and just say he was fired for being himself. I would hope he doesn’t find another victim in his scheme to promote himself.