Conant Defends Himself to Canadians; Oceana Says It Isn’t Racist Toward Asians

A couple of restaurateurs are surprised to find themselves on the defensive today. First, according to the Globe and Mail, Scott Conant’s “Open Letter to Toronto” (introducing the city to a new location of Scarpetta) struck many Canadians as condescending (referring to his other outpost of Scarpetta, Conant writes, “Miami is really beautiful, T-Dot. You should check it out sometime”). Now he tells the paper that “it was meant to be very sincere. I’m shocked that people find it condescending. To be honest, my fear was that people would find it corny.” Conant goes on to heap praise on T-Dot’s local ingredients (though he admits he won’t be getting anything from farmers’ markets), and, in the end, he’s let off the hook. Meanwhile, the folks at Oceana are also in damage-control mode.

During a recent date, blogger Chubby Chinese Girl says she was led through a main dining room that “looked really white” (as in, Caucasian) only to be seated in a back room where she was surrounded by Asians. “Honestly,” she wrote. “you can’t tell me this was all just a ‘coincidence’ and we were just too sensitive.” Oceana co-owner Paul McLaughlin told Midtown Lunch that the back room was actually the nice one, and “we did 191 lunches Sunday, 95 guests were Asian or have Asian names. That’s 49%.” McLaughlin wrote a longer e-mail to Eater: “Oceana is a large restaurant with some 80 plus tables in all. The photograph intentionally shows only five tables grouped together who all happen to be Asian, a pure and total coincidence.”

What Chubby Chinese Girl didn’t know is that everyone in the less desirable main dining room was Canadian.

OCEANA: Asians eat at the back… How RACIST!!! [Chubby Chinese Girl]
Does Oceana Have a Racist Restaurant Week Back Room Just for Asians? [Midtown Lunch]
Oceana Owner Swears the Restaurant is not Racist [Eater NY]
Q & A with Scott Conant [Globe and Mail]

Conant Defends Himself to Canadians; Oceana Says It Isn’t Racist Toward