Dallas chef Peter Barlow set off a social media firestorm in the Texas dining world this weekend after throwing a tantrum and allegedly failing to tip a server after dining at much-lauded Austin restaurant Comedor.
On Instagram, Comedor chef Gabriel Erales posted screenshots of “insulting” messages allegedly sent to him by Barlow via Instagram, alongside a photo of a restaurant receipt with a $0 tip from Barlow’s dinner at the restaurant. According to Erales’s account, Barlow dined at Comedor on February 29, and was upset that Erales wasn’t in the restaurant when he arrived. In various Instagram Stories and comments on the platform from Barlow’s official Instagram account, he says that he ordered two cocktails and a “crudo we didn’t even eat” from the restaurant’s menu, and left before ordering anything else.
Erales, who wasn’t at the restaurant at the time, tells Eater that Barlow sent him multiple messages about the restaurant’s food and service, some of which were sent at 5 a.m. “I expected a lot more,” the message Erales says he received from Barlow reads in part. “Your caliber of attention was missed. This trip [to Austin] was based to see you and eat. Fucking major dissatisfaction.”
For those who are unfamiliar with Comedor, Erales’s restaurant is currently one of the hottest dining establishments in Austin. In 2018, the restaurant won Eater Austin’s Design of the Year award, and Texas Monthly food editor Pat Sharpe just named it the best restaurant in the entire state back in February. And for folks who don’t recognize the name Peter Barlow, he’s an alum of Stephan Pyles’s now shuttered Downtown restaurant Flora Street Cafe and operated an experimental tasting menu spot called Fauna, also located inside Flora Street Cafe.
Check out the full interaction — and Erales’s comments on the situation — below:
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Three years ago when I was working in Tulum I got a message from the Head Chef of Stephen Pyles’s then new restaurant Flora Street introducing himself and telling me that he was coming to eat w Chef Pyles and his girlfriend. He then asked if I could arrange a stage for the two of them for the day of their dinner. Not knowing him and only assuming character based off the accomplished and respected Chef Pyles who in fact paid for my culinary school, I arranged it. Fast forward three years and this same Chef comes to our restaurant, then storms out because I was not there to “style” him out and treat him like he is a celebrity. He then stiffs our server and proceeds to send me insulting messages about our restaurant and the food via IG, yet he only ordered one item. I’ve never encountered a Chef that felt so privileged to insult a team because they did not get treated like they were celebrities. Sorry I missed you at the restaurant @elchefpeter! I left early to spend the Saturday night with my kids. I hope your night got better.
On Sunday, Barlow left a comment on the post via his pop-up company Niteshade Chef Collaborative, saying that he didn’t “stiff” the server, and gave $100 in cash to the restaurant’s general manager as a tip for the server. Strangely, Barlow later posted a photo to his Instagram stories of a $100 bill being exchanged between two hands as “proof” that he had actually left the tip.
“After I replied to his messages and told him I was disappointed in his lack of class as a chef and industry peer, he proceeded to call me an asshole for ‘ruining his going-away dinner,’” Erales tells Eater. “He said he was going to go back to the restaurant to give the server $200 for his two shitty cocktails.” Erales says that Barlow did indeed give a manager $100 for the tip a day after the dinner, but only after Erales called out his behavior.
According to Erales, he had left the restaurant early on Saturday night to spend the night with his children. “I’ve never encountered a chef that felt so privileged to insult a team because they did not get treated like they were celebrities,” Erales wrote of the encounter. “Sorry I missed you at the restaurant.”
After Erales posted his account of the incident on Instagram on Sunday, it attracted hundreds of comments, almost all of which were critical of Barlow. “What a piece of shit,” wrote Homewood chef-owner Matt McCallister. “I have always thought he was but this seals the deal, fucking totally classless.” Jose chef Anastacia Quinones commended Erales for taking the night off to spend time with his family. “As a chef, I rarely leave early for fear of missing something or someone, but I don’t let that fear stop me from getting some snuggle time in with my kiddo,” Quinones wrote. “Proud of you for giving your wife that opportunity, and don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.”
Quinones and McCallister weren’t the only chefs expressing disappointment in Barlow’s alleged handling of the incident, either. Erales’s post inspired comments from a veritable “A-list” of Dallas chefs, including Dude Sweet Chocolate’s Katherine Clapner, former Mirador chef Junior Borges, and even Barlow’s former employer and vaunted Dallas restaurateur Stephan Pyles. “I have been the target recently of Peter’s wrath as well, and it is indeed unpleasant,” Pyles wrote. “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
Also present at that Saturday night dinner at Comedor was Barlow’s now-former girlfriend and Dallas Observer food editor Taylor Adams, who posted a statement on Erales’s Instagram post condemning Barlow’s behavior. “I think it was horrible just like you do. My involvement in this situation does not in any way reflect who I am or what I believe,” Adams wrote in a comment on Erales’s post. “Enough so that I ended an 18-month relationship over it. What happened last night was completely out of line, and it did not display my true respect for this industry and the restaurant.”
On Sunday evening, Barlow posted a lengthy apology to Erales and the Comedor staff on his Instagram account. Scope it out in full here:
“I’ve apologized to the restaurant and chefs the night of and profusely the next day. And publicly to make amends,” Barlow told Eater on Monday. “The server was tipped $100 on that night. Taylor had nothing to do with my disrespectful actions.”
Fortunately for Barlow, he’ll soon be thousands of miles away from all of his industry peers who think that he acted like a jerk at Comedor this weekend — per the Observer, he’s headed to Copenhagen to stage at an “attention-getting new restaurant” called Alchemist.