Clash of the Newspapers: LA Times Fights Back at Pete Wells’ Scathing LocoL Review
Earlier this week, Pete Wells, veteran restaurant critic for The New York Times, wrote a takedown review of Roy Choi’s community-centric LocoL in California, awarding it zero stars. The response has been none too kind, given the central “giving back” mission of Choi’s newly expanded venture that employs and feeds surrounding struggling communities.
@pete_wells Your version of skepticism: "As a privileged person with options, should you eat the food at locol? I myself prefer La Coucou."
— Jim Hill (@James_browski) January 4, 2017
@pete_wells Thanks for trashing LoCol in Oakland. You are obviously much too sophisticated for such cuisine. Also, "bullet proof glass"Real?
— Elmano Gonsalves (@Elmanogonsalves) January 4, 2017
The Los Angeles Times, the hometown newspaper of LocoL, published an equally scathing retort to the Pete Wells review in the form of an op-ed written by reporter Michael Krikorian. He called it a “nasty critique” and a low blow, given that the cooks in the kitchen were mostly local hires from disadvantaged areas and not “culinary students from the Cordon Bleu…. As Choi said, before LocoL, many of them hadn’t worked at all.”
Krikorian said Choi actually texted him good-naturedly about the incident, saying, “I ain’t mad at Pete. But, what he didn’t take into context is that none of our team ever had a job before. They didn’t deserve these harsh words as they’re trying their best every day. It’s like yelling ‘booooo’ at an elementary school musical.”
In response to Choi, Krikorian heatedly quipped, “I’d like to give Wells the opportunity to meet several Grape Street Crips in the Juniper Street parking lot at Jordan Downs,” highlighting in colorful language what many have already pointed out: LocoL is a local phenomenon that benefits the community and cannot be held to the same standard as a French Laundry or Manresa.
It seems that Pete Wells’ silver spoon and street cred both remain tarnished after his visit to Oakland.