Our Five Favorite John Mariani Accusations

John Mariani
John Mariani

John Mariani has never been much of a fan of molecular gastronomy, so it’s no huge surprise that he would take the occasion of the release of both Grant Achatz’s Life, on the Line, and Nathan Myhrvold’s epic Modernist Cuisine, to launch into a very spirited attack on the whole enterprise in Esquire. Some of his points are fascinating, including the idea of what influence the style of cooking has had for home cooks. Others are less so, especially when he compares “molecular/avant-gardiste chefs” to Dan Aykroyd’s Saturday Nigh Live skit about the Super Bass-O-Matic 76. But what’s perhaps most interesting about the whole thing is just how much time he spends attacking the “insufferable Achatz.” What has him all fired up? Well, it turns out Achatz accused Marinani of stealing Alinea’s very expensive wine list. He, of course, denies it. We suppose we’ll never quite know the truth, but this isn’t the first time Mariani has been accused of something from a prominent chef or writer. In fact, we’ve collected a list of our five favorite examples.

He carries around a business card with a recipe for a Daiquiri on the back.
Accused by: Dave Beran, chef at Next
Mariani’s Response:

The reason for the recipe is simply that I like to have a cocktail made to my request but, more important, so the owner and chef know where to reach me, send me info, menus, announcements, jpegs, etc. I do not brandish it in an attempt to scare them into giving me free food.

He sent a four-page list of requests to Moto
Accused by: Homaro Cantu, chef at Moto
Mariani’s Response:

Let me state this as clearly as I can: In more than 25 years of writing for Esquire, I NEVER, not once, ever called a restaurant or sent “demands” for a free meal or how I wished to be treated. NEVER…These lies occasionally rear their ugly head in the unfettered land of blogs.

He accepts free meals
Accused by: Michael Ruhlman in The Making of a Chef
Mariani’s Response:

We dined and there was no check, but I left a $100 tip. Ruhlman did not leave one penny, yet, while never informing me he was taking notes, later wrote I did not pay for the meal. He neglected to mention that he didn’t either.

“He’s been caught red-handed on numerous occasions”
Accused by: Anthony Bourdain in Medium Raw
Mariani’s Response:

…don’t publishers pass authors’ trash by libel lawyers anymore?

He stole Alinea’s very expensive and heavy wine list
Accused by: Nick Kokonas in Life, on the Line
Mariani’s Response:

[The wine list] is the last thing I would want to lug around in my suitcase. This is an absurd charge wholly denied by an editor friend who dined with me that night and by Alinea’s own publicist, Jenn Galdes, whom Kokonas has credited with doing an “amazing job” of publicity. The only thing I asked for that evening was a souvenir menu, as many of Alinea’s guests do.

My Grant Achatz Problem — and Yours [Esquire]