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David Chang Buttons Up His Feelings on Jonathan Gold’s Majordomo Review

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Plus a lot more talk on critiquing in general

Wonho Frank Lee

This week’s episode of David Chang’s new podcast The Dave Chang Show is out, and it covers — perhaps more thoroughly than any of his other episodes — the chef’s feelings about food criticism in the modern age. There’s a lot of talk about how a restaurant like Majordomo operates when they know a critic is in the room, how tenuous the relationships between chefs and critics can be, and (of course) how Chang feels about Jonathan Gold’s punchy review of the restaurant back in April.

For weeks, Chang’s podcast has been focusing on what they’re calling the “pre-opening diaries,” episodes recorded in real time throughout the start-up of the restaurant. This final installment catches Chang and confidant Bill Simmons discussing the reviews that have already come in for Majordomo from people like Brett Martin of GQ and Eater’s own Bill Addison, who called the place “the most exhilarating restaurant opening of 2018.” Pretty quickly though, they find time to address Gold and the LA Times. Here’s a bit of what they discussed, with Simmons speaking up first:

The weirdest thing about this latest batch of reviews is with Jonathan Gold. As we’ve mentioned before, he writes in the review that you guys have had a relationship, but also he said he’s furious at you because you got rid of Lucky Peach. He prefaced his review with that. Which is, just as a reader and as someone who’s worked in media and run two websites, I read that and he’s basically admitting that he’s mad at the person he is reviewing. This is going to be weird. And it was a really cryptic, weird review that went a lot of different directions.

Chang says he knows there is “some Da Vinci Code stuff in there” for sure, before adding:

It’s simultaneously a positive review and a negative review. I think there’s a lot of inside baseball in there, which I won’t go into, but this is the world we live in right now. It’s hard to be objective with something, especially when there’s relationships involved … What bothered me, if I could pick a bone, is that he didn’t talk about how awesome our staff is, our wine program, and our service. Maybe he didn’t like it, but that’s where I’d disagree. I think we’ve got great service and ambiance, all this stuff that everyone works so hard on. Maybe it got edited out, but I feel really good about that stuff.

That’s mostly where Chang and Simmons leave the Majordomo conversation, at least as it relates to Jonathan Gold directly. But really, the whole podcast is worth a listen for some seriously inside-track details on what chefs go through when being reviewed by major publications. There’s even a funny bit from Chang about his enduring love for Hillstone, and how he wishes he could somehow tow that same line: Be great enough that everyone loves the restaurant, but not so buzzy or famous that critics actually come give the place a review. For him, at least, that seems like a pretty nice (and much less stressful) place to be.

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