Sick of hearing about the epic hatefest between outspoken chef John Tesar and Dallas Morning News restaurant critic Leslie Brenner yet? Too bad, because it seems that food writers far beyond the Dallas city limits are just getting started on the topic.
For the uninitiated, it all began three weeks ago when Brenner dropped a three-star review on Tesar's newest restaurant Knife, inspiring a middle-of-the-night "fuck you" tweet from the chef. He then embarked on a lengthy social media rant and banned Brenner from his restaurants, declaring her a pox upon the Dallas food world; Tesar was then simultaneously championed as a hero and raked over the coals, depending on who you follow on Twitter.
After Esquire's Josh Ozersky penned a blog post heralding Tesar's riot-inciting "fuck you" tweet to Brenner as "the moment when the critics finally lost their mojo," the critic finally wrote a rebuttal of sorts, claiming that Tesar was waging a "defamatory smear campaign" against her and challenging the notion that critics were somehow becoming irrelevant. "If we're irrelevant, why can't they stop talking about this?" she asked rhetorically.
Unable or unwilling to let Brenner's statements go unchallenged, Ozersky wrote yet another blog post on the topic yesterday. While he admits that Brenner "might have ... made some good points" and that "more or less everything she said about Knife was true," he calls her "basic argument ... fundamentally flawed," pointing out that "being talked about is no act of validation."
Meanwhile in Vegas, Eating Las Vegas blogger John Curtas has major beef with the anti-Brenner letter written by an anonymous Dallas chef that Ozersky posted earlier this week. In the letter, the unnamed chef (Ed. Note: Anyone care to speculate who that might be?) proclaims Brenner not only a bad critic but "a bad person," claiming that her negative reviews ruin careers and lives. Curtas dismisses the anonymous letter-writer as "a big baby," saying, "Critics don't cause people to lose their jobs or families to break up. Having a puffed up view of your own importance is probably the bigger culprit."
Tesar, of course, continues to bask in the limelight of the media storm he's created, frequently retweeting his many supporters.
@ChefJohnTesar I'm glad the era of the critic is over. Thanks for liberating us!— Teresa Gubbins (@tgubbins) August 4, 2014
@ChefJohnTesar Thanks for punching the bully in the face. Sincerely a new fan.Next time you're in town dinners on me ! #EffLeslieBrenner— LUCK (@b_luck_e) August 6, 2014
Will the Tesar/Brenner saga be remembered as one of history's great rivalries, right alongside Pepsi vs. Coke and Predator vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger? Probably not, but it's certainly providing plenty of popcorn-worthy entertainment for the time being.
· The Day The Critic Kicked Back: Leslie Brenner Retorts [Esquire]
· If Restaurant Critics Have Become Irrelevant, Why Are We Such A Hot Topic of Conversation? [Eats Blog]
· Chefs Tough As Nails? We Don't Think So [Eating Las Vegas]
· Leslie Brenner Says John Tesar is Waging a Defamatory Smear Campaign Against Her [-EDFW-]
· All Chef vs. Critic coverage [-EDFW-]