A week after Saveur publisher Merri Lee Kingsly stood up for Michael Psilakis, Gael Greene gets behind Jeffrey Chodorow via her Fork Play newsletter: “What did this street-educated, impoverished, ambitious restaurant mogul do that invites constant reopening of the wound?” She doesn’t know why recent favorable reviews of Bar Basque had to go and mention El Chod’s “checkered resume” (Sifton), all those swords at Kobe Club (Cuozzo), and Chodorow’s penchant for “Disney-style grandeur” (Platt). Instead, she thinks they should focus on his “valiant effort” at Wild Salmon and his “triumphal” success with China Grill and Asia de Cuba. She admits Chodorow advertises on her site and contributes to her charity and stuff (in fact, the two are so cozy that Chodorow tells her about the size of his “you-know-what”), but even if that weren’t the case, there’s plenty to like about the guy!
I have no idea what he is like to work with or if he abuses his family. He seems to be happily involved with his first wife, which is certainly refreshing. I must say I have admired what seems to be his irrational optimism.
What did the guy do? What is his sin? He bought a full-page ad in the Times to complain about a review. It was his only option to have his say in a spot as visible as the critique he contested. And heaven knows, the Times needs all the ads it can get. What did his ad reveal? That if you prick a man, he hurts. And if he can afford it, he'll prick back.
Which raises the question: If El Chod can afford to prick back, why is Gael Greene doing it for him? In any case, critics, you’re on notice — no matter how much you want to put a place (and especially its over-the-top decor) in context, don’t even think about making so much as passing mention of previous Chodorow establishments! Totally out of line.