Sacramento Bee food writer apologizes for criticizing food of dead chef

Today’s useful reminder to always double-check that people are still employed in the position you think they are comes from the food critic of the Sacramento Bee.

Blair Anthony Robertson’s recent review of Silva’s Sheldon Inn included a reference to Don Brown, whom Robertson believed was still the sous chef at the restaurant. That reference came in the course of a lukewarm review.

Robertson concluded his review by asking and answering two questions: “… is it a dining destination? For the curious and those seeking country charm and solid cooking? Sure. For foodies? Not anymore.”

An editor’s note has since been added to the story, and Robertson issued an additional apology online.

Why?

Don Brown, you see, has been dead for a little more than two years. It’s noted on the restaurant’s website.

Robertson’s error is generating discussion on the Facebook profile page of local chef Teresa Urkofsky. She writes:

If Blair had bothered to do the least bit of research, he would have read of Don’s passing on the Silva’s Sheldon Inn website. As painful as this is for Don’s colleagues to read, I can only imagine how excruciating it is for his family to read.

From Robertson’s apology:

I made an unfortunate error in today’s restaurant review of Silva’s Sheldon Inn. I failed to connect with the restaurant’s owners prior to publication. Had I, I would have learned that Don Brown, the longtime executive chef at Biba who later became sous chef at Silva’s Sheldon Inn, died in 2010. Mr. Brown was mentioned briefly in the review. I have already heard from many of Mr. Brown’s friends and loved ones, and I want to apologize for the jolt of pain and anguish my error caused.

Here’s the editor’s note:

Editor’s note: This story has been edited to remove erroneous information about the late Don Brown, an accomplished chef in Sacramento who worked with Doug Silva at Silva’s Sheldon Inn and previously for many years at Biba. Mr. Brown died Feb. 17, 2010 of a disabling stroke. The Bee regrets the error.

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