December 5, 2012

The New York Times
“And I thought I had a lot of questions about Guy Fieri,” Times restaurant critic Pete Wells writes.

Wells stirred up a storm with his nothing-but-questions, scathing review of Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant, and readers responded with their own questions for Wells in a Q&A on the Times’ website.

“How, with so many great restaurants in the city, that one made the list of spots to review”? … “Did editors ask you to tone things down, or does the final product represent most of what you initially penned?” … Wasn’t this “little more than an exercise of shooting fish in a barrel”?

Highlights of Wells’ response:

The place was confounding on so many levels that I knew I had to write about it. …

The decision to address the entire thing as a series of questions to Mr. Fieri was the result of my attempt to square his public persona with the restaurant he opened. …

A lot of people have suggested that the review was pointless because, well, how many readers of The New York Times would go to a restaurant in Times Square? But The New York Times is published right off Times Square. Hence the name. Do you think we sit at our desks at lunchtime every day, holding our noses in the air because we’re too good to go outside in search of a meal? We do not. We eat in the neighborhood pretty often. So do the editors at Conde Nast and the lawyers at Proskauer Rose and a lot of other people. A few tourists get hungry in that neighborhood, too.

Those people deserve better than most of the food I was served at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar. …

I was not asked to tone down the review. However, I did ask my editors to hold it for a week. I was writing it while the south end of Manhattan had no electricity. It just seemed unfair at that moment to criticize any restaurant that had managed to stay open.

Earlier: Pete Wells explains his review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant | ‘Guy Fieri’ responds to New York Times review on ‘Saturday Night Live’ | New York Times hosts ad client dinner at Guy Fieri restaurant it panned earlier in the day | Chefs turn the tables and review the nation’s top food critics.

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Jeff Sonderman ( is the Digital Media Fellow at The Poynter Institute. He focuses on innovations and strategies for mobile platforms and social media in…
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