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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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02.19.08

Metromix Dining:Unethical and Unoriginal

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Chris LaMorte, dining producer for Metromix piles on the Schwa bandwagon. Considering Sam Zell’s billions of dollars of debt, why is Metromix spending money feature reviewing a spot, when their sister publication and reporter Chris Borrelli already already did a bang up job a few days earlier? RedEye already syndicates Metromix content, so why not syndicate Tribune Stew content in reverse, and spend those dollars reviewing a new spot?

Furthermore LaMorte says:

“On Saturday, however, I went in with a Metromix freelance writer. (Full disclosure: She’d interviewed Carlson and asked if he could squeeze her and two friends in. He obliged. I never introduced myself as a Metromix reviewer.)”

and

“But I’m softening on the BYOB dilemma. Carlson gave us a broad outline of wines to bring: a gruner veltliner, a pinot blanc, a pinot noir. Why we brought an Australian riesling I don’t know, but it was a dud. Carlson took pity on us and allowed us to trade for a livelier German version he had in back.

It’s probably the only time a BYOB restaurant allowed a customer to send back a wine. How punk rock is that?”

I appreciate the full disclosure, but pulling rank like that to get a reservation is blatantly wrong. There’s no way they got a standard meal, as Carlson would have been on his best game just knowing the freelance writer was there. LaMorte does take some shots at the dishes, so you think maybe he’s being even handed, but how can you separate out whether he’s overcompensating by being harder on Carlson, because he knows they know the table is a special one? Furthermore, taking a bottle from the kitchen, even if it’s in trade for something you brought is basically like taking a comp.

5 Comments on "Metromix Dining:Unethical and Unoriginal"

JB

U guys keep hammering away…..he is a talented chef and I have heard him doing the wine swap for other people(non-critics,reviewers,etc)……..



Michael Nagrant

Not hammering away on Carlson here. He’s totally within his right to do as he pleases with wine service. In fact, it’s a super nice gesture and service touch for non-critics. The problem here, is that a critic should remain an impartial party as much as possible, which means you don’t take free stuff from a place you’re writing about.



Chuck Sudo

The wine swap is not the issue here, JB. It’s LaMorte finagling the extra seating by announcing he’s the Metromix dining critic, which is akin to pulling rank at the velvet rope by crowing, “Don’t you know who I am?” or “I’m a friend of the man who signs your checks.”

A food critic is supposed to be neither seen nor heard. LaMorte’s actions makes his whole review suspect, however unwittingly.



J

Why are restaurant reviewers the only critics that shouldn’t receive freebies? Music, book, film and fashion reviewers receive hundreds or even thousands of dollars of free access/products in the course of their work, and no one cries foul — rightfully so. If someone tries to use their position to get add-ons, that’s one thing, but free meals and ‘being seen’ aren’t the sins everyone seems to think.



Michael Nagrant

CD’s, Films, and fashion are constructed ahead of time for no particular audience. Once you record a CD or Film, you can’t tailor it to the critic’s likes and dislikes if you know they’re going to review it.

Restaurant food and service on the other hand can be tailored at the moment of service if they know a critic is in the house. Therefore what the critic gets is not neccesarily a true representation of what the reading audience might experience if they dine out.

Bottles of wine, finished food products tend to fall under the CD and Film category in that if you get them for free, technically you can review them, because they didn’t make those things for you either.

Though we accept that at hungry, in a perfect world we’d pay for everything and choose only what we love. Even when people send free products, they’re are buying access in an informal way. Some businesses can’t afford to send free product and thus have a harder time getting on your radar screen unless you seek them out.

How we evolved in to this culture of free entitlement merits some investigation. It seems to be part of human nature, one we should fight. I mean these days you have doctors making six figure incomes salivating for free dinners from drug reps. That’s absurd. And yet it works.



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