Commentary by Lynne Christopher :

Me thinks the editor does protest too much. The issue with SD Magazine has nothing to do with fact checking. It doesn’t matter. The issue is all about the perception by the people who read the magazine. No major publication, in any major food city around the country, would get away with what SD Magazine did.  The connection between the writer of the story, Ron Donoho, and his Hotel Del publicist wife, is widely known around town. And don’t the magazine editors ever meet to go over covers, reviews, etc. before publication?

This is just another example of why San Diego will never be a food city; the good old boys simply won’t let go. We need honest food critics who are able to write the truth without worrying about advertising dollars to the magazine. We need restaurant writers who don’t own or have investments in major restaurants in town. Terryl Gavre rings a bell. We need restaurant critics who pay for their own meals when they review and don’t accept or count on free meals. If we ever get there, maybe the city will improve.

And as for the fancy food show coming in 2008: Restaurants in town whose reputation is based on local reviewers, better take a long, hard look at what you are doing.  Why? Because the people who come to this show are very knowledgeable and sophisticated diners who are not afraid to tell restaurants exactly how they feel whether it’s good, bad or ugly.

8 thoughts on “Good ol’ boys and San Diego restaurants

  1. Wow. Thanks for spelling my name correctly. I’m Ron Donoho, executive editor of San Diego Magazine. I’d never heard of this blog before being smeared in it (twice now) regarding my alleged conspiratorial hijinks. My wife is indeed PR director at the Hotel del Coronado. I did edit blurbs that went with a photo layout of six local, photogenic chefs and their significant others, including Jason Shaeffer of the Hotel Del. I asked him to be in the piece based on his reputation as an up-and-comer in the San Diego restaurant industry. And also in our February issue, the Hotel Del’s new restaurant, 1500 Ocean, was reviewed.

    For the record, there was no nepotism involved in running those stories, and I had no advance knowledge our food critic was covering 1500 Ocean. The Hotel Del is a San Diego icon that gets mentioned in our publication and others on a fairly regular basis. To suggest in print that The Del got coverage just because of a familial connection is far-fetched and untrue. And such insinuation without a hint of research or a simple phone call or two is shoddy reporting.

    I applaud Food Buzz SD’s call for independent food critics. Marcie Rothman claims to be such. Funny though, how Jason Shaeffer recalls the many free meals she has accepted at his restaurant. What should we be led to believe about the positive review of 1500 Ocean that Ms. Rothman has posted on her blog?

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  2. Well, if you like the way things are done in other cities, then you should GO THERE to spread gossip (or, what you call critique) and stop accepting free food from various chefs in San Diego…. THAT, in my opinion, is a little too cozy. The only reason your website has any attention at all is because you decided to talk-trash about someone you refer to as a “friend.” Well, you can’t have it both ways (free food and a big mouth)… looks like you chose the latter and you can stop expecting special treatment at restaurants you frequent… “Food writer,” my foot! You’re a trash-talker. There goes your credibility and “everyone involved” is laughing at you! Ha ha!

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  3. The Buzz responds to recent comments: Lest we have flying forks and knotted napkins over this, please note that Buzz did not write the “Good ol’ boys” commentary/opinion post. Buzz’s original post “All too cozy” had nothing to do with the person on the cover of the magazine, but rather with the perceived impropriety of the relationship between the magazine, the executive editor and his personal association with the Hotel Del Coronado.

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  4. Perception is sometimes more important than reality, and disclosure upfront can avoid a lot of problems later. If the wife of the executive editor of San Diego Magazine is in charge of public relations for the Hotel del Coronado, I would suggest letting readers know this, and also explaining how editorial decisions at the magazine are made. Then they can make up their own minds.

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  5. Dear Editor,
    I take exeption to the comments made regarding Terryl Gavre. I find her columns EXCEPTIONALLY credible. In my humble opinion, anyone can be a critic but Terryl has actucally put her money where her pen is and successfull owned and operated a small cafe for nearly 15 years. To me, that gives her real life experience and understanding of food, the S.D. dining scene and the economics involved. In fact, I can’t think of many people MORE qualified to review a given restaurant. I wonder if “Lynn Chirstopher” could do the same? After additionally reading the trivial allegations regarding SD Mag and The Del, which would be conspicious for any publication to overlook , I would suggest that Lynn consider Yoga, as she clearly has too much time on her hands.

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  6. I wouldn’t hold obx2sd’s comments too much to heart considering she was on the cover of said issue of SD Magazine (check out her myspace page, http://www.myspace.com/obx2sd, and you’ll know it’s true). She has a habit of “making statements” without actually taking any mature responsibility so it’s difficult, if not impossible, to seriously consider “commentary” from a juvenile.

    Chelsea…oops, I mean “obx2sd” — if you’re going to comment, grow up and take ownership (like take a page from Ron Donoho’s book, who did actually reveal his identity when commenting). If you don’t like how something is stated/done here, go back to CO and leave SD to the real residents. Also, take some more English writing courses…A LOT more. Obviously, your degree didn’t require any real skill in articulation. You express yourself like a high-school student; it shows clearly in your retort.

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  7. We had some reviewers come to Houston a few years back.. they were so knowledgeable and really opened up our eyes to what was good and could be better. Some were harsh, but most were really nice, and we learned so much at my restaurant!
    -Sylvia

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