Without Twitter, the dining public might never have the chance to see a pair of food writers fight publicly over a restaurant the way it did this weekend when Observer and Guardian.com restaurant critic Jay Rayner got into it with former Wall Street Journal Europe food columnist Bruce Palling.
The writer-fight started Sunday evening when Palling posted a tweet expressing dismay at Rayner’s recent review of MasterChef competitor Adam Handling at London restaurant, Caxton. In the review, Rayner references a scene from MasterChef, writing: “I liked him even more when, faced later in the series by a swivel-eyed Italian chef who had apparently read too many self-help books with the word ‘creativity’ in the title, he slumped down in a corner of the kitchen muttering that he didn’t get it.”
The “swivel-eyed Italian chef” was apparently Massimo Bottura from Michelin three-star restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. Osteria Francescana features modernist cuisine and is ranked as one of the top five restaurants in the world, and Palling took umbrage at the snub.
“Rayner disses @massimobottura cuisine as cobblers - has he been there? Yet adores Heston..” Palling wrote.
Rayner saw Palling’s tweet, rolled up his sleeves, and came out swinging: “@Bruce_Palling it's about the food, and much else. Called being a resto critic. If either of you get the job you can show me how it's done.”
Palling said that Rayner’s dissing of Bottura was “cowardly to attack Italy’s greatest chef without naming him - or worse, not having eaten there - your idea of resto critic?”
Rayner responded with a burn: “I’m not taking advice from a man so unsuccessful as a journo he went into pr.”
According to Palling, Rayner blocked him on Twitter not long after that, though Palling insists he was not actually following Rayner’s Twitter in the first place.
Food writer Rutger Schipper caught a screenshot of the altercation, which he joked was a “food-critic Twud fight,” and appended the hashtag #criticsgonewild, which appears to have caught the attention and ruffled the feathers of Rayner, who replied:
“Critics in the plural? Only one of us actually has that job.”
Palling got one last jab in on the way out, writing: “Have never claimed to be 'resto critic' - In UK its usually comic column.”