And the "Bottom 52"?

What were the worst things in food in 2012? I have to start off with Pete Wells's scathing review of Guy Fieri's Guy's American Kitchen and Bar which appeared in today's (11/14) New York Times. This was the worst review of a restaurant that I've ever seen the Times publish. It was so punishing that even the NBC Nightly News spotlighted it. This is what Food Network has wrought on American dining culture.

  • Posted by: pierino
  • November 14, 2012


AntoniaJames November 20, 2012
Here's my worst for 2012. I was in an ordinary supermarket, which is where I have to buy certain cleaning products that I can't get at the food-only other places where I usually shop. In the line behind me was a woman who did not appear to be in very good health, who had about six items, including two beautiful cantaloupes, several grocery items in boxes (no other produce), and a large box of frozen corn dogs. She handed the cashier the cantaloupes and said, "Here, I don't want these. I'm going to get the corn dogs instead." Folks, you can't make this stuff up. ;o)
Greenstuff November 20, 2012
We need a few more of these. Personally, I wish I'd added the foie gras ban. Since I didn't, how about the Twinkie, the Sno Ball, the Ho Ho, and the Yodel? Up to each of you to decided whether it's good or bad that they may be going the way of the dodo.
Foodelf November 18, 2012
There was a very recent high profile article in The Guardian (UK) about a chef's vicious response to a blogger's unfavourable review. It generated a nasty cyber-bullying incident by many of the chef's chef friends and colleagues. One of the emerging issues was whether or not a diner should provide an honest response when the server asks how things are, rather than the standard "Just fine" answer because we're not comfortable giving a negative response where appropriate.
Sam1148 November 15, 2012
The Guy Fieri Dish Generator:

pierino November 15, 2012
Here's another bottom of the barrel nominee; California's Prop 37 which would have required that foods (not all foods) containing GMOs be labeled as such. It was on its way to winning until Monsanto, Kraft et al poured $47m into defeating it. It certainly was not a perfect measure but nothing in California's referendum system ever is. It would have been a good start but the agribusiness companies knew it would rapidly sweep the country.
Reiney November 15, 2012
Wanna throw in CA's foie gras ban to the list as well?
(I'm just stirring the pot all over the place here).
pierino November 16, 2012
Ouch! The foie gras ban really hurts. But that's California government for you.
Sadassa_Ulna November 15, 2012
I nominate the Drought of 2012 for the "Bottom 52."

Voted the Best Reply!

amysarah November 15, 2012
I’d also nominate the crippling losses/irrevocable damage wrought by Sandy upon so many food businesses. I’m not thinking of celeb chefs (with or w/o spikey hair and a melted cheese tick,) who’ll likely land on their feet. I mean corner pizza places in S.I., small Rockaway bodegas, clam bars on the NJ shore – owners, workers, purveyors who depended on their business….
pierino November 15, 2012
Sadassa Ulna you are right about the drought. The farmers have already begun to feel the pain. The consumer's turn is coming next with corn and soy prices zooming up on the futures markets even the vegetarians and vegans will feel the pain at the pump.
chasey November 15, 2012
That review felt like more like a stunt. He must not be getting the attention he thinks he deserves or something.

@ Sarah, i am there with you re: Olive Garden. I LOOOOOVE Olive Garden. I've got plenty of things going on that could make me a snob and frankly those critics... sure, they could totally and accurately comment on the tragedy that is the quality of ingredients in chain food restaurants in the US, but that's not limited to Olive Garden or even most one door restaurants. They've got their noses so high up in the air they can't taste anything. OG Forever!! lol
Reiney November 14, 2012
Worst review as in Wells/the NYT was in the wrong to write/publish it, or worst review in that Guy Fieri's restaurant is an abomination?

(I assume from your last sentence that it's the latter but just clarifying!)

On a related note, I think the snobby reaction to Marilyn Hagerty's North Folks ND Olive Garden review was pretty horrendous - but perhaps that's the defensive midwesterner in me. :) Full respect to Anthony Bourdain for calling out the elitists.
pierino November 15, 2012
Sarah, you are correct on the latter, "abomination". Pete Wells was very specific in what is wrong with this restaurant. But of course given its location at 44th and 7th you already know who the intended target customer is. Still, because Fieri is a high profile television personality you had to know that the Times would do a review. And of course it was absolutely unsparing. The Wells comment on "service" was "the well meaning staff seems to realize that this is not a real restaurant."
The New York Times remains the single newspaper with a serious food section with excellent writers who have plenty to write about. The LA Times used to have the second best section in the country but then they moved it to Thursday from the traditional Wednesday and then this year the merged it into a Saturday "life style" section. That in itself would be worthy of a "bottom 52" nomination if it weren't for the fact that Pulitzer Prize winning writer Jonathon Gold is now a weekly contributor with his "Counter Intelligence" space.

As to Fieri, he seems to have lived up to the name of his show, "Diners, Drive-ins, and DIVES." This is not about snobbery but simply a good writer punching out a place that is simply awful and a televison personality who represents everything that is wrong with food television as entertainment.
Reiney November 15, 2012
Completely agree pierino! As someone who loves a witty, well-crafted (and well-deserved) insult, I thought the review was hilarious. But then, at the risk of opening up THAT can of worms, most of the Food Network personalities make me want to poke my eyes out :)
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