Friday, November 25, 2005

More on the Jonathan Wright Plight

Lorin Gaudin, sr. food and wine editor for New Orleans magazine, has posted a very nice rebuttal defending Chef Wright in response to the post for Nov. 20 -- Jonathan Wright Who? To see the full response, click on "comments". It's clear he has fans -- what good chef doesn't -- and fans who know and understand good food. I know New Orleans is sad to lose him.

Let me say, thanks for the post, and thanks also for helping me discover what may be one of my new favorite blogs, Emeril's Notes from the Kitchen -- despite the whole Emeril connection. (A leetle joke -- I know he's a terrific and funny guy. These yankees just don't appreciate his heavy use of bourbon and cream.)

I realize Chef Wright isn't to blame for the article in the IBJ, but I wanted to post this here to follow up on a couple of specific points. The IBJ article generated a lot of talk among Indianapolis chefs. I was worried my response was too heated, but having talked to several of them in the past few days, I came away feeling it wasn't heated enough. There is a general feeling that responsible parties -- IBJ, the mayor's office, the Conrad PR people, whoever -- have talked Wright up seemingly ignorant of that fact that several of our top chefs have careers at least as stellar as Wright's. These chefs are here in Indy earning their keep, doing top-notch work, running successful high end restaurants, and have just as many mentions in Bon Appetit and/or Gourmet (what the hell, throw Food and Wine in there, too.) Wright may not be responsible for what John Mariani gushes about him, but, let's be honest. He should have some control over how his new employer's PR zealots whip up enthusiasm touting a restaurant they think will put Indy on the map!

Wright is the one who has to work -- and be successful -- in this town, and Indianapolis is nothing, if not a small town. If he's as nice a guy as Gaudin says, I'm guessing he was just as appalled by the article as everyone else. But Chef Wright is responsible for knowing how his name and reputation are marketed. He's responsible for the company he keeps. Think he doesn't have control? Think again. PR and marketing are all things "renowned chefs" have to worry about -- right along with how clean the plates are going across the pass. (You probably wouldn't be surprised to know how many hits I've had from Hilton-owned IP addresses in the past four days -- including at least 10 today alone.)

I'm sure Chef Wright does great work and I look forward to meeting him -- and more eagerly to eating in his establishment. New Orleans is a great food city and I know that so many magazines and papers wouldn't have touted him as the best in the city lightly. I'm sure he's a great -- and good looking -- guy (Greg Hardesty, look out!) Would I love it if Le Soleil becomes the next Le Maison, Fleur de Lis, or Daniel? You bet! In the meantime, we'll wait and see -- and hope the Conrad PR folks will do the same. I suspect they'll want to revisit John Mariani's reference in their source list.


DaveMiss said...

About Jonathan Wright:
In a city as well known for it's tremendous cuisine around the world, such as New Orleans, Jonathan had gotten consistently high ratings with customers and in the press. Press without the help/hindrance of the Windsor Court or the parent company Orient Express. It was about the food and the mastery of shaping a dining experience. All this while doing thousands of banquets, breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas. This wasn't a stand alone kitchen doing only dinner. His talents shined in a city with it's food personalities that are regrettably sometimes bigger that the food.

If "several of our top chefs have careers at least as stellar as Wright's", then why aren't there any Ind. Zagat ratings? Or are your top chefs merely keeping you happy with luxurious meat and potatoes and a nice glass of red from that bottle covered in wicker?

If you want to down talk a chef, I suggest you actually eat his food first. It might make you sound credible.

braingirl said...
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