On Friday, a seemingly harmless article about Philly's newest chef superstar, Peter Serpico, surfaced on the Bon Appetit website by a New York City pen, Matt Duckor. In it, the author mentioned some misinformation regarding our food scene which rankled the local food media and started the spewing of intense vitriol through Twitter towards the writer, and, more surprisingly, Serpico.
It began with Foobooz editor Jason Sheehan—who isn't a Philadelphian, and has had his own rocky relationship with the Philly food scene—referring to Duckor as an "asshole New Yorker," followed by commenters and Twitter exploding with both guns blazing at Duckor.
While Duckor made a comment about Philly having "huge, big-box restaurants" in a question about the relatively smaller size (59 seats) of Serpico, our food media and fans took the opportunity to let Duckor know that he should do some homework before making sweeping statements.
"I believe what I said was that there are huge, big box restaurants, mostly in the Starr organization, and this one was smaller than those," Duckor told Eater. "And I stand by that. It's not all there is by any stretch of the imagination, but that's what I was referring to."
Duckor was surprised by the amount of vitriol that was leveled at him for the post, and didn't believe anything he said was negative. "When I wrote the story and sent it to my editor, I really didn't expect this response," Duckor said. "But, what I found was that Philly has a lot of very passionate people that are ready to defend the image of their food scene, and that's a good thing."
Beyond the local food media, though, commenters—who had to sign up with full names and information just to make their point—took Duckor to task and were traditionally Philly blunt:
·"Are we sure this doesn't belong in the "Eat Your Words" section? Watch out, Ducky, Philly fans are rough."
·"I'm not sure that I've ever read a more condescending article, on the parts of both interviewer and interviewee - and we're used to that kind of thing down here. So congrats to both for the distinction. I had been looking forward to Serpico, but I'm starting to wonder. Just a heads-up, chef: Philly is actually full of pretty sophisticated diners, who have, for instance, eaten some Asian food beyond potstickers."
·"Damn son, u just got schooled. Sounds like next time you come to Philly you are gonna be leaving with some bruises."
Most puzzling, though, was the criticism of Peter Serpico's comments about Philly, which didn't come off as negative, but was immediately taken to task by Sheehan, who said he made us sound like "dimwitted, white bread, big-box-restaurant-loving yokels with our mouths stuffed full of Buddakan potstickers." In reality, Serpico said Philly was more family-friendly, which he enjoyed, and wanted to make sure that the community didn't expect Buddakan when he said they were doing "Asian" food.
"Serpico picked up his family and moved it to Philly because he liked it so much," Duckor told Eater. "That should tell you how he feels about the city. And the reason Buddakan came up was because the general populace think of Buddakan when they think of Asian food from Starr. The food elite will always know the difference, but outside of that tiny percentage of people, that's not the case with most diners no matter where you are."
As for whether or not he would be back, Duckor said he would absolutely return. "Maybe with body guards, but I'll be back." Duckor said. "There's so much great stuff going on there, I can't wait to return. And you guys have Eli Kulp (currently at Fork), who we miss very much at Torrisi Italian, so I'll be back."
· Serpico Restaurant Opening [Bon Appetit]
· Serpico on Serpico: Some News on His Forthcoming Restaurant [Foobooz]
· All Serpico Coverage [~EPHI~]