Fri 8 Feb 2013
New Media Publishing has just sent its statement regarding the shocking slating of its Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist by its 2012 international judge Bruce Palling, standing by him regarding his role as judge, and not taking responsibility for his restaurant bashing since 1 February. It does not contain one word of regret about Palling’s appalling behaviour, nor any signal to the restaurant industry that the action by Palling is inappropriate or unprofessional, and is condoning the action by writing that Palling is free to write what he wants to. The media statement does not even share that prior to Palling’s postings they had realised that there is a problem with the Eat Out Awards, and that they have embarked on a strategy to make the awards better.
The statement we received follows:
‘Recent online media coverage related to the 2012 Eat Out Restaurant Awards has prompted us to issue a clarifying statement:
The Eat Out Restaurant Awards is a highly credible annual event that honours and celebrates the best restaurants and top chefs in South Africa, with almost a year of preparation behind each year’s awards. Great care is taken to ensure that the Eat Out judges have the depth of experience and objectivity to judge meaningfully and fairly, arriving at finalists and, ultimately, winners that are worthy of Eat Out Awards.
As has been the case since the awards began in 1998, the 2012 Eat Out Awards followed a strict set of rules. We stand by the resulting selections, which we believe reflect what we’ve stated before: that the winning restaurants illustrate astonishing talent in an establishment of world-class standard, and leave one inspired and enraptured.
Assisting Eat Out’s editor Abigail Donnelly in 2012 was international judge Bruce Palling, who is a well-known and respected restaurant critic in the UK and the US, and was chosen as a judge for the Eat Out Awards based on his credentials. In addition to his role as the Wall Street Journal Europe food columnist, restaurant critic for Business Life, and blogger, he brought with him a wealth of international judging experience. He has been on the judging panel for the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants for the past six years, and is also a panellist for the UK’s National Restaurant Awards.
Mr. Palling has entirely fulfilled his Eat Out obligations as international judge for the 2012 Eat Out Awards. This did not require any reviewing or writing on restaurants either before, during or after his appointment as an Eat Out judge in 2012. New Media has no control over Mr. Palling’s comments, nor, in fact, those of any individual made in their personal capacity.
As we have done for the past 15 years, New Media continues to strive to give the South African restaurant industry and public an awards process and crowning event that is credible, in touch with the times, and of the highest quality. New Media is always open to constructive feedback that assists with the evolution of the Eat Out brand in order to best serve our vibrant and interconnected community of chefs, restaurateurs, media and diners’.
The numerous errors contained in Palling’s Eat Out Top 20 shortlist restaurant reviews, and the damage they have done to our sensitive chefs are enough reason for New Media Publishing to have made a stronger statement, with an apology, to shown some backbone. Few locals will see Palling as ‘highly respected’ after his appalling behaviour! The media statement sounds like a rehash of what the company posted when they first announced Palling as judge last year.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage: