Tracey MacLeod: Chefs turn sour on food critics who criticise

I'd never met the chef. He's a brilliant technician who always kept a low profile - until now
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The Independent Online

It's amazing it doesn't happen more often, given the fraught relations between chefs and critics. The Incident at Duck Soup didn't involve open hostility, unlike the famous occasion when Gordon Ramsay chucked AA Gill out of his Chelsea flagship after a bad review. But it did involve a chef venting his feelings about a couple of restaurant critics, one of whom (me) had given him a not particularly glowing write-up.

I wasn't aware that the chap at the next table in Duck Soup was Alexis Gauthier. I've never met him, and though he's a brilliant chef, he is low-profile, one of those craftsmen who spends his time (at least one assumed) in the kitchen. Now he has obviously found one way to raise his profile. His tweeted stream of cattiness, while unpleasant from my point of view, breaks the unwritten code that exists between critics and the professionals they criticise.

In this country, we critics just aren't that important. We can't make or break restaurants. In 15 years of reviewing for The Independent, I've only once had a backlash from a chef I'd reviewed negatively; he phoned me a couple of times to take issue with me.

Whether Gauthier was reacting to my underwhelming review of his restaurant or whether he just had a rush of blood to the head, I don't know. But if we give it out, it's only fair that we're ready to take it.