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.

Half a million people came to San Francisco in mid-January ’07 for the Fancy Food Show, now anchored in two mammoth Moscone Center halls across the street from each other and connected by an underground walkway. The throng zoomed through the show to get in as many after-show dinners their stomachs and wallets could afford.

That’s because next year the FFS is in San Diego, where dinner-hour starvation is feared. “Where,” so many vendors, shop-owners, chefs and producers wailed, “do they expect us to eat in that town?”

Ever wonder about the restaurant business in this town?  How PR works?  Well, here’s a great example.  The February issue of San Diego Magazine sports a cover story headlined “Kiss the Cook, 6 Top Chefs Dish Up Date Food Secrets” with a photo of Chef Jason Shaeffer (of 1500 Ocean at The Hotel Del Coronado) and his girlfriend Chelsea Clark.  Disclaimer time:  Jason is a friend of mine and a damned good chef.

What bothers me terribly is this:  The writer of the piece, Executive Editor Ron Donoho, is married to the public relations director of The Hotel Del, where, Jason is Chef de Cuisine. Hard to believe also that in this issue, 1500 Ocean is reviewed by Robin Kleven Dishon.  Am I the only person who thinks this is all too cozy?  Is it just a coincidence that 1500 Ocean is getting so much ink in one issue by the Executive Editor?  How does it affect the credibility of all concerned?