Following a report by the Dallas Morning News alleging that Lowest Greenville restaurant Carte Blanche chef and co-owner Casey La Rue falsified his fine dining credentials, La Rue is trying to clear his name.
Earlier this month, La Rue and Carte Blanche’s lawyer, Heath Cheek of Bell Nunnally, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Morning News demanding that it retract the article. The letter states that the online resume examined by the Morning News was fake; cites emails showing that La Rue was in contact with employees at No. 9 Park, Picholine, Clio, and Robuchon to set up unpaid work as a stagiaire between 2008 and 2011; and includes correspondence from some of the restaurants indicating that they don’t keep records for unpaid stagiaires, as a way of explaining why there were no records of his time there. It also notes that reservations at Carte Blanche have gone down noticeably in the wake of the story, impacting the business.
An attorney for the Morning News says the paper will not be issuing any retraction, correction, or clarification at this time.
Carte Blanche was opened in June of 2021 by La Rue and his wife, pastry chef Amy La Rue. It serves a tasting menu that is one of the most expensive in the city and offers baked goods for pre-order several days a week. The restaurant earned five stars in the Forbes travel guide in April 2022 and is counted among the city’s best by several publications, including Eater Dallas.
However, in July, the Morning News reported that there were no records of La Rue ever working at Michelin-starred fine dining establishments Per Se, Daniel, Clio, or Joël Robuchon Las Vegas, as he told interviewers and in a purported LinkedIn profile with his resume. La Rue initially reiterated that work history to the Morning News and stated that he went by a different name at the time to explain the lack of records. In statements to Eater Dallas and posts to social media following the release of the report, La Rue went on to say that he had staged at the restaurants where he claimed to have work — a restaurant role akin to an unpaid working interview or an unpaid internship. La Rue said he didn’t have a need for LinkedIn or a profile, despite being a regular user of the site who had recently shared photos and thoughts of his work at Carte Blanche.
“I have never claimed that I held a highly ranked position at these restaurants or worked there for a long time,” La Rue said in a statement provided by his attorney. “In fact, I have been very clear that I worked at the very bottom rung at each of these restaurants.” He added that invoking those experiences was “to show the aspirations I have for Carte Blanche.”
La Rue’s attorney provided correspondence via a Hotmail account in La Rue’s name with chefs at No. 9 Park, Picholine, Clio, and Robuchon, inviting him to stage at their restaurants. “Your allegation that Mr. La Rue never worked at these restaurants in any role, paid or unpaid, is completely false,” the cease and desist letter says and refers to attached exhibits refuting the claim. “Mr. La Rue worked at each of these restaurants (among many others) as an unpaid stage between 2007-2011 — which is up to fifteen years ago. In each instance, he worked at the restaurants for a short period of time (one to two months at each stop). Mr. La Rue’s goal was to gain exposure to as many top restaurants as he could to learn how each operated and gather ideas and best practices to incorporate into future work in restaurants.” There is no accounting for Per Se and Daniel, but La Rue maintains that he worked at both restaurants.
When asked by Eater Dallas why La Rue did not share these emails to refute the accusations, he says through his attorney that at the time, he did not realize he still had the emails that proved he was in contact with No. 9 Park, Picholine, Clio, and Joël Robuchon. He also says he was contacted by the Morning News during lunch service, just two to three hours before the paper published the article, and that the voicemail left for him with questions about his resume was “vague.”
The Morning News report also references a W2 provided by La Rue from Dinex Group, the corporate entity that owns Daniel. It notes that his name was redacted. His attorney explained that to Eater Dallas, saying, “After further investigation, we realized that the redacted Dinex W2 was unrelated to the stage position. It was a mistake sent in haste to the DMN last fall. We did not include it in the evidence submitted to the DMN in La Rue’s request for retraction.”
As for the confusion about his name, La Rue’s attorney explains that he was referencing how past employers have misspelled his last name and that it might be a reason records weren’t coming up.
The LinkedIn profile that the Morning News references is “faked or spoofed” according to La Rue and his attorney, who says that his actual LinkedIn profile looks “radically different than the one cited to in the article,” and that he has never included stints at Per Se, Daniel, Clio, and Joël Robuchon on it. And dates of employment it lists don’t align with when La Rue could have worked at the restaurants in question, he adds.
Speaking to Eater Dallas following the initial report, La Rue said he didn’t have a need for LinkedIn or a profile, despite being a regular user of the site who had recently shared photos and thoughts about his work at Carte Blanche. Through his lawyer, La Rue said he “tangled” his comments together when speaking to Eater Dallas. La Rue says he meant to convey that he never had an online resume that included his work history at those restaurants on any site, and was confused by what the Morning News could have been referring to in their article. La Rue characterized his statement to Eater Dallas as a misunderstanding on his part. His attorney confirmed La Rue has had a LinkedIn profile since 2019, on which he posts primarily about Carte Blanche.
Despite all of this, it’s unclear if Dallas diners will care. Both Eater Dallas and the Morning News received numerous comments from readers asking if any of this matters as long as the food is good. So many that the Morning News did a follow-up to its story in a podcast addressing why it feels the issue is important. But it didn’t stop diners for long.
“There was an initial dip in sales after the article came out, but the customers have returned in the past couple of weeks because they love Carte Blanche and believe in what it’s doing,” La Rue’s attorney tells Eater Dallas.