Daniel Boulud’s Restaurant Fined $1.3 Million for Serving Diner a Piece of Wire

Threat of ingesting wire sort of screw with the ambience. Photo: Elliot Black

In 2015, a stray bristle off a metal brush came inside retired lawyer Barry Brett’s $32 coq au vin at DB Bistro Moderne, and he swallowed it without realizing, prompting him to sue Daniel Boulud. He claimed he nearly died from the resulting esophagus infection, and yesterday a jury awarded him $300,000 plus another $1 million in punitive damages that his attorney called “a clear message not only to the Daniel Boulud organization … but also to the entire restaurant industry that it is unacceptable to use wire brushes anywhere near food.”

The CDC has been advising kitchens to avoid wire brushes since 2012 for precisely this reason (throat stabbings caused by them are more common than people think), and Brett’s attorney says jurors “were shocked that one of the most famous chefs in the world had no oversight, no polices, no procedures, no nothing which would have prevented this incident from occurring.”

Boulud hasn’t responded to Brett’s mishap with a ton of sympathy, either. The restaurant’s lawyer said in court that, technically speaking, there aren’t any regulations forbidding wire brushes on “a grill where chicken isn’t even prepared.” Current executive chef Kendall Linhart adds he’s “shocked” by the million-dollar penalty, and the restaurant plans to appeal, promising: “This case is far from over.”

DB Bistro Moderne Fined $1.3 Million for Serving Metal Wire