I nearly didn’t write this.

I nearly thought ‘let it go, who cares…. It will be forgotten by tomorrow’, but it’s stuck in my craw like an errant herring bone. Followers of this blog (Ha!) will know that I only write one post a year when something riles me significantly enough to put calloused finger to keyboard- 2 years ago it was the hideous Taste of London corporation, last year it was Laura Zilli, which included a passionate paean to proper chefs and all of their unseen toil and pain. This year it’s those same chefs that have got my back up

It happened last night, as is the modern way, on Twitter and concerns a young man called James Isherwood. James is the chief restaurant critic of the New York Times, Chairman of the Guild of Food Writers and has written 4 award winning cook books. His opinion carries a LOT of weight.

Except he’s not. And it doesn’t.

James is a very average writer of a very average blog. He enjoys interacting with the ‘Big Beasts’ of the chef world, always on the lookout for crumbs (tweets) from their mighty tables. His Blog is rather sweetly called ‘Dining with James’ and if you read all of it (there’s only 12 posts), you will find the meanderings of an amateur food writer, writing about his dinner. There isn’t much flair, élan or technical knowledge on show but neither is there in most of the Chefs in this country.

James has a hundred and something followers on Twitter and until last night, I would suggest that his blog attracted stats in the single figures- he has literally no comments for any of his posts. He is at worst a wannabee, naïve, maybe a wee bit delusional but ultimately harmless. There is literally no one in the world that would cancel a restaurant booking on the advice of James.

James had dinner at Hibiscus, stomping ground of the great Claude Bosi- holder of 2 Michelin stars, technical genius and at the forefront of British and indeed global cuisine. A bear of a man with glowing reviews, the respect of his peers and at the top of his game.

Unfortunately he has now shown himself to be an insecure mess of a man and a bully. Wee James had the temerity to ‘award’ Hibiscus 3 stars out of 5 on Trip advisor and say that he didn’t like his starter. Monsieur  Bosi took exception to this and offered the following advice:

@claudebosi  nice way to gain respect with chefs…!! I think your a Cunt and this its personal sorry…!!

Followed by

@Claudebosi: as a man you should say something to my face when I ask,Please buy yourself a pair of balls and play with them

So that’s nice.

The interesting thing here is that Bosi assumed that a paying guest wanted the respect of the Chef and not a nice dinner. And that says it all. Cook the food and shut up. If you cook nice food you’ll do well, if you don’t you’ll close. If you demand the ‘respect’ of your customers you are a self-important blow hard who has positioned the art of cooking up there with fighting in the trenches or treating the sick. It’s not. It’s cooking. I do it, you do it, and my 90 year old Nan does it. It’s just cooking.

Also, and this was widely picked up on by the gang of cheffy wannabee sycophants, Bosi asked James if he had enjoyed his meal and James said yes!


Hands up if you have had a duff meal and then mumbled through gritted teeth ‘yes it was lovely thank you’ And then paid a full tip? Everyone? Thought so. Why on EARTH do chefs think that I, as a paying customer want my expensive evening out to be sullied with a confrontation with an overbearing chef? Again its utter arrogance.

Or as @happyappetite put it : This passive aggressive “it was lovely”/trash online shite is pathetic, no other word for it.

Followed by

Just to register my tuppence worth, @James_Isherwood you’re a stupid cunt who devalues decent bloggers..

Then all the big guns joined in! Tom Kerridge, a chef who I have never heard anyone say a bad word about, a bit of a hero of mine and a real personality chipped in uninvited

@tomkerridge now your just being a c#nt! #notwelcomeinanyrestaurantever! #bellend seeya dickhead

@tomkerridge smash him in chef Bosi #chefsunite

@tom kerridge who is this guy??? What a loser!!

The especially sad and poignant thing about this is that in July, James wrote a gushing review of Tom’s 2 star gaff, The Hand and Flowers. Kerridge is quite obviously his hero and it must have been so crushingly dispiriting to be so publicly bitch-slapped.

‘You leave the hand and flowers full, content and with a smile on your face.

congratulations go to Tom kerridge who got everything spot on’

He wrote.

Did Kerridge or any of his acolytes ever read it? Of course not, they’d never heard of him.

So that’s 4 stars having a pop. Shall we add another 2? Yep? OK- Here’s what Sat Bains had to add to the discourse

@satbains heard a really good saying once, and it rings true today!!!! @claudebosi @ChefTomKerridge there is a c**t amongst us.!!!

And on and on it went.


Until James had had enough and deleted his account and got the hell off twitter.


Well done Chefs. Nice work. A victory for common sense. How dare some nobody pleb have the temerity to criticise YOU.

Do you know what- you made me ashamed to be a chef last night, you made be ashamed to be on twitter and you have done nothing but bad for our industry. Yes we know a restaurant lives or dies by its reviews, yes we know that Trip Advisor is unedited and sometimes destructive. But calling a paying customer a ‘cunt’, on a public forum for not liking his starter…… That’s gonna kill you before any pee wee blogger. Stand up, say sorry and be real men. Bullying is not for this industry, nor any. I am shaking with anger writing this. If you laid into James Isherwood, from the safety of your laptop last night or this morning you should put your hand up right now and say sorry.  Except you can’t.  Because he’s gone.

And if you want to bully someone, try me, try someone who can take it, who has a forum to fight you back. I dare you. Even if it destroys me and my career I won’t let you do this shitty thing in my name #chefsunite?  My hairy, chef-whited arse they do.


28 Comments to Bully

  1. Mike in Vietnam's Gravatar Mike in Vietnam
    November 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant…sometimes perhaps people should take up some kind of campaign and boycott these twits and see how it affects then, Well done for standing up for the bloke that was just giving his two cents worth of thoughts..


  2. November 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Bravo! thanks for being the adult and good person in this entire situation. James needed someone to stand up for him – and you have done so brilliantly.

  3. Anna's Gravatar Anna
    November 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Just read the article on the guardian courtesy of popbitch. Luke Mackay you are so hot right now. Brilliant response to a bunch of self-important, egotistical wankers. Very very well said sir.

  4. November 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I witnessed a similar situation on twitter recently, where a group of people ganged up and bullied someone. I’m not sure why folks seem to think it’s ok on twitter – bullying in any form shouldn’t be acceptable. Can’t believe the arrogance of the people involved – well done for writing this post :)

  5. James Wishicould's Gravatar James Wishicould
    November 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    By writing this, you come across as bitter and juvenile.

    If you value James’s reviews so little, ignore them.

  6. Cathryn's Gravatar Cathryn
    November 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for not letting these bullies get away with it. If only there were more people like you, the world would be a very different place.

  7. November 9, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Well said. Glad you decided to write it.

  8. Paul's Gravatar Paul
    November 9, 2012 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    At the end of the day only James and Bosi know what really went on, but the way Tom Kerridge and Sat Baines acted was worse than what Bosi did IMO, P.S i have rever really liked Baines because he has always come across to me as being a wanker so i am not that supprised by what he said, but Kerridge seemed like a decent bloke to me, mabey those two stars has gone to his head, P.P.S i was planing on eating at the H&F but i shall not bother now, not that it will matter much to him but at least it has saved me a few hundred quid

  9. Maggz's Gravatar Maggz
    November 9, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Bravo for standing up to the abuse this man received. These so called ‘Chef’s’ should be ashamed of their behaviour. Thank you for not keeping quiet and for not allowing them to get away with it.

  10. Roger Grundy's Gravatar Roger Grundy
    November 9, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure it was your intention but the tone of your post reminded me of those awful care workers who talk in a silly infantile voice to but moslty thru the elderly.

    That aside repect to you for calling out those self important souls with fragile egos on there behaviour towards Mr Isherwood, a man who by contrast seems to be rather decent and humble.

  11. November 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Personally I get both sides wannabe ‘whites’ jersey hugging bloggers and egotistical god dwelling chefs but simply if you look at history and when I say history; the dawn of Internet blogging and the bastard that is trip advisor, it is easy to understand why such responses to reviews happen. It’s too easy for reviewers to sit behind the safety of a key board and slate hardworking individuals blood sweat & tears not to mention the corporate espionage that is anti reviews from jealous competition.

    Is it fair to respond honestly and from the belly of years of passion and dedication hmmm well yes I say so….is it also fair to give an honest review of your experiences in a forum of that dedication? Dam straight especially when your paying for it!

    The only real issue and I’m speaking personally as we rock the shit out what we do, is that you can not please everyone it’s about specificity of one own modus operandi and your comfort in it and yourself. In my opinion James should get back reviewing and the chefs should get back in their kitchens as for both getting the attention the crave so dearly. As with out each other be it Internet blogger or simple word of mouth both in their M.O. are redundant!

    I understand your rage, been there still there……… I would love to hear the chefs and James opinion over a nice whiskey or two :)

  12. Sean's Gravatar Sean
    November 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Interesting…. You must have changed slightly since Dalriada. I pictured someone writing a blog like this about you!

  13. NicL's Gravatar NicL
    November 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Excellent piece, could not agree more. Karma will get the brave Bosi back no doubt at some point.

  14. TiS's Gravatar TiS
    November 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Just brilliant.

  15. November 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Funny – Tristan Welch was piling on too (albeit using less offensive language) and he seems to have slipped by without anyone noticing.

  16. paul's Gravatar paul
    November 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I have read your story on an article on Le Monde a French newspaper. I have to thank you for your reaction. Internet make you feel so free sometimes it is horrible. I understand their reaction. That doesn’t mean you have to be rude. So thanks again.

  17. Fin's Gravatar Fin
    November 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Well said that man !
    These “cooks” go on TV a couple of times and get a praise in the form of a cute little “star” or two and think they suddenly become important and special !
    Well, all these morons have shown of themselves is that they are self important, vile mouthed gobshites who can’t take fair criticism and rip off gullible people every day !
    Good on you for pointing this out to your peers and if any of them give you any shit, send them my way and I will show them my special human roasting technique !

  18. Medium Dave's Gravatar Medium Dave
    November 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Having worked in a kitchen – nothing remotely fancy, just a bog-standard pub, years ago – I personally wouldn’t bother complaining about food at the point of sale. At best, I’d just be just venting spleen, and spoiling things for everyone else – I’d have nothing to gain. There is no possibility I’d ever eat a replacement dish, having seen the massively unappealing things that happen to the dishes of complainers.

    No, I’ll be amongst the folk who leave with a muttered boilerplate platitude and an absent tip – does that failure to duke it out mano-a-mano – like some kind of latter day gastronomic gladiator – mean I can’t share my opinions online? Am I not ‘alpha’ enough to have an opinion? Why does the guy who cooked my dinner presume he can tell me what I may, or may not say about my own personal experiences after I’ve left his establishment? I’m not a subject of his personal empire – merely a traveler, passing through.

    All that these fellows have established is that they have breathtaking levels arrogance, no self awareness whatsoever, and borderline-psychopathic control issues. It’s no coincidence that the only people to wear toques are African military dictators, and chefs.

    (Present company excepted, of course – this was a fine post.)

  19. Rox's Gravatar Rox
    November 10, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    I’m glad you wrote this. It makes a different knowing that someone cares. Whilst I can’t speak on his behalf, I would have thought James Isherwood would appreciate this too. It’s disappointing that those chefs thought it was ok to be so hateful to someone, and it’s reassuring to see another chef take a stand and say, “No, it’s not ok.” And not just for this particular case, but for bullies everywhere – good on you for taking a stand, it’s inspired me to do the same.

  20. Doug Poole's Gravatar Doug Poole
    November 10, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Well said Luke. Bosi, Bains et al – add a little perspective to your too self – important lives.

  21. Sam Bannister's Gravatar Sam Bannister
    November 10, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Briliant, brilliant blog post!

    Best wishes

  22. Bennington's Gravatar Bennington
    November 10, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Thanks for writing such a great blog in defence of the little guy (i.e. most of us). It’s rare to see someone raising the quality of internet debates

  23. Emma P's Gravatar Emma P
    November 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m delighted that Luke has posted this blog in response to these nasty playground bullies. I have eaten at Hibiscus and must admit that although the meal was fine, it certainly didn’t make an impression – I honestly struggle to remember it. I’ve had much more memorable meals in top class restaurants, and if Bosi would like to take exception to that comment as well, wade right in.

    If this is how Bosi and Kerridge respond to criticism, then small wonder that people don’t mention it in person in the restaurant, so that they can be made a spectacle of. Surely they wouldn’t prefer people to take exception to their meal in a crowded restaurant?

    I for one will never visit their restaurants again. I agree with the previous post on this page from Mike in Vietnam. Let’s boycott these idiots who don’t deserve our money. They’ve forgotten that they’re there to serve the customer not show off and fall in love with themselves. It’s basic economics boys!

    James had the right to his opinion, how dare they say otherwise.

  24. Patricia's Gravatar Patricia
    November 12, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Read this on the Guardian website and am glad you highlighted the chefs appalling behaviour. Shame I like the Hand and Flowers but Tom K piling in with that language has put me right off going back anytime soon. I’ve never been to the other restaurant although I had been considering it for a special occasion, I’ll be looking for somewhere else instead.

  25. Anand's Gravatar Anand
    November 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Well done Luke!
    You wrote a lovely, well articulated and fair piece. Im glad you did. Of course you run the risk of getting bullied by the bullies (chefsunite? hmmmm) but hey, you stood up for what you believed in. Bravo! I look forward to an apology from those chefsstupid. If none is forthcoming, they should go eat some humble pie.

  26. Dave's Gravatar Dave
    December 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re a nob.

  27. Heather's Gravatar Heather
    January 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I see both sides but as a cook and restaurateur I have to say I find it frustrating to always be at the mercy of someone who truly does not know. That is not meant to be dismissive, it’s just one fact. This lack of aptitude or experience certainly does not warrant the personal attack we’ve now all read on Twitter, but bloggers need to remember that they are NOT experts, they do NOT have any training (formal or otherwise) and that just because they don’t care for something does not mean the dish or service sucks. Everyone is entitled to their opinion however I do think at some point what’s being said online will be and perhaps should be governed by the law; people’s livelihoods are at stake here folks – think before you type – on both sides. At the end of the day, are there not other things going on in the world that need our attention more than a 3 out of 5 restaurant experience? C’mon First World – sort it out.

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