RE: Brian Duff’s article “Two Sides of Snobby Cuisine”
As a food service professional for 15 years and an avid reader of the Phoenix, I have a few qualms with Brian Duff's piece ("Two Sides of Snobby Cuisine — Sampling fancy fish at Island Creek Oysters," published in the 11/27/17 issue).
First and foremost, I would like to suggest that food writing is not a place for the colorful and often sarcastic form of writing that seems so prevalent these days. This produces a sort of self-righteous bully in a writer, one lashing out from their pulpit in accordance to a personal agenda. I would like to remind writers like Mr. Duff that behind every review is a business full of hard-working individuals, people like myself who are the backbone to the economy here, working tirelessly in the shadows to produce that which will satisfy the masses.
He seems to want to be a champion of the people in this article, but simply stumbles into the category of the educated-elite that so often attempts to appeal to the working class. Restaurant reviews should be more objective because they so directly affect all of those reviewed. If your burger was overcooked or you didn’t like the mussels, then fine, write about it. But don’t use a restaurant review as a means to juxtapose your discontent with the current state of affairs to the business. It’s unfair.
Secondly, his suggestions of oysters as elitist and that consuming raw oysters is somehow a tradition handed down straight from French royalty are wrong. [Ed: Duff wrote that oysters were "popularized by Louis XIV," not handed down from him or other royalty.] These days, when facts are in some way arbitrary and “fake news” is all the rage, it is important for the food writers to get their information correct. For if not them, then who?
Writers have so much power. I would suggest even more today then ever before. It is important to understand the impact of one piece on the local community and workers. Restaurant reviews used as vehicles to promote a personal agenda establish a dangerous precedent.
Tyler Vorce, food service professional
This letter has been edited for space and clarity.