The Other Critics

Saveur and Saran Clash Over Sifton’s Fishtag Review

Photo: Melissa Hom

After Sam Sifton gave a goose egg to Fishtag to the befuddlement of some blogger-reviewers, Gael Greene tweeted, “I expect Sifton’s ‘fair’ slap in Times FishTag review won’t move Michael Psilakis. He’s too full of himself,” and linked to her own assessment: “Most of the food is very good, even wonderful, with a staccato of flubs.” But today Saveur publisher Merri Lee Kingsly, a “long time fan of Michael and his restaurants” defends Psilakis by writing into Eater: “Mr Sifton … you need to stop being so rude to the chefs in our world that work so damn hard every single day and put every bit of passion and love into the food they cook so that people like me … and obviously sometimes you can enjoy … I am exhausted reading the nasty reviews.” Sounds like someone’s finally standing up for chefs who get panned, right? But the funny part is it’s a chef, Dévi’s Suvir Saran, who chimes into the comments to defend the wisecracking critic.

Those living in glass houses hardly need to challenge another in their position.
Saveur like Sifton and the food pages of the NYT, has much to be proud of. And of course some that will have others challenging the opinion. But is that not what all of this is? The opinion of one or five or ten or a collection of people? Not meant to be in any way a blanket generalization that ought to be accepted as truth by all?

Unfortunate that a publisher of a noteworthy magazine of our industry would react as such. I hope the editors at Saveur are larger in their editorial independence when it comes to considering what they feature (or choose not to).

Some in the industry have wondered why certain talented chefs, some great recipes, amazingly brilliant dishes or restaurants never make it into the pages of Saveur. Some have questioned if this is because of some bias (or personal vendetta) on behalf of some editors on staff. But this is all conjecture and up to interpretation. Hardly anything one publisher would challenge another publisher (or editor or writer) about.

Interesting outpouring. Makes me want to read the review and actually support Sifton and the NYT even more.

In another long comment, Saran writes, “Kingsly’s outpouring is one that speaks of a delusional person. Especially so because of the pedestal where she sits and the power she and her publication have to make a difference themselves.” Indeed Saveur is launching its own restaurant reviews (penned by the likes of Jay Rayner, John Mariani, and the aforementioned Gael Greene), so one has to wonder whether this little stab at Sifton wasn’t promotion in disguise. Either way, those three aren’t exactly known for pulling punches (as Greene’s tweet about Psilakis goes to show), so it’ll be interesting to see how they’re edited. Doesn’t all of this make you wish Fishtag’s chef de cuisine Ryan Skeen hadn’t quit Twitter?

Saveur Publisher Tells Sam Sifton to ‘Stop Being so Rude’ [Eater NY]

Update: Merri Lee Kingsly tells us that “my personal views are actually just that…and don’t reflect the editors of Saveur or Saveur the magazine.”

Saveur and Saran Clash Over Sifton’s Fishtag Review