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Downtown LA Restaurant Boots Popular OC Food Bloggers During Shoot

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Spam fries, a deer burger, and differing opinions on today’s food media

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Manuela restaurant in the Arts District, California.
Manuela, Arts District
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Downtown LA restaurant Manuela apparently got into a bit of a flare-up with a couple of food bloggers from mega-popular Orange County site Foodbeast earlier this month, with chef Wes Whitsell cancelling a planned shoot and ushering off the media team in question.

Per a story posted on the site earlier this month, a writing/video team from Foodbeast made the trip up from Santa Ana to give some media love to Manuela’s deer burger. For the unfamiliar, Foodbeast is a popular online publication with a love of big, meaty, cheesy foods, so the rather unusual deer burger would seem right up their (and their four million Facebook followers’) alley.

Yet when they arrived and began catching shots of the burger, according to the bloggers, chef Wes Whitsell abruptly cancelled the shoot, telling them that he didn’t want his food to appear in the same social media feed as someone else’s “Spam fries” — an apparent reference to the kind of lower quality stunt foods that can often be promoted on Instagram.

Whitsell allegedly told other diners that he was cancelling Foodbeast’s shoot as well, denouncing the website in the meantime while the pair — who had been invited in by the restaurant’s PR team — tried to figure out just what was going on. Ultimately they left, and dropped the below closing statement in their story about the whole fiasco:

I sure as heck am not being offered enough deer burgers to ever tolerate being talked down to and disrespected in the manner that the venerable Chef Wes Whitsell, Lord of the Deer Burgers, had done so that day.

Eater reached out to Manuela’s team about the story, but they declined to comment. For Foodbeast’s part, they seem to be leaning into the issue, having expanded to discuss the whole thing in-depth on their podcast as well, while also asking larger questions about the types of foods they do cover, and what that might mean for the restaurant industry as a whole.


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