In a post on the Shefzilla blog today—usually the domain of Stewart Woodman, the chef and co-owner of Heidi's and Birdhouse—Woodman's wife (and the restaurants' other co-owner), Heidi Woodman wrote that she is "incredibly disappointed" that the food community has "shunned" Woodman. The post—titled "Shunned"—talks about food critics' (and also a local charity's) reactions to Woodman's outspoken nature, and also responds to yesterday's announcement of the James Beard Foundation's semifinalists, a list that included 18 Minneapolis-area chefs and restaurants but did not include Stewart Woodman or either of the Woodmans' restaurants. Heidi Woodman writes:
And then this Beard thing?anyone who thinks Stewart Woodman is not among the top two or three—never mind the top twenty—hasn't been paying attention to his work...Clearly Stewart Woodman has made a lot of people very angry.
I have read here and other places about how he's egotistical, and arrogant, and what a blow hard he is. It's even funny to me, because I remember thinking that when I first met him, so you can't blame people for thinking that. It's just that they are wrong. That's all I have to say about that.
The post was then followed by a comment from a commenter identifying himself as Adam Platt (presumably the current executive editor of Twin Cities Business and former editor of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, but we're still waiting on confirmation that it's actually him). UPDATE: Yes, Adam Platt has confirmed that he was the commenter.
The commenter Platt says:
I am not currently a voting member of the Beard Awards, but once was. So let me articulate what many active food writers (and some chefs) are saying in emails and texts today:
When you set yourself up as a relentless critic of the local food writing community (and some restaurateurs) as Stewart has, it's naive to believe that community's opinion of you will not be affected. Whatever Shefzilla's talents and merits, awards are based on subjective considerations and judged by people.
In my opinion, much of what Stewart has to say about the local food-writing/critic community is founded on a misunderstanding of the standards of opinion writing vs journalism. That's easily forgiven by most open-minded people. But it's often ad hominem and frequently self-righteous, which is not.
It's refreshing to see a chef critique critics, as there are worthy targets, more than ever. But too many of Shefzilla's attacks smack of personal score-settling.
In the end, if you beat on people long enough, there's no way it doesn't start to affect their perceptions of you. That's human nature, right? Shefzilla and Heidi seem to clamor for a world of complete objectivity, where merit trumps all.
That world never existed, but especially not today.
That comment was then followed by a comment from Shefzilla himself, Stewart Woodman:
Shefzilla goes around demanding honesty, so it follows that it must live here. I'll channel my inner Yalom.
I don't disagree at all, and my expectation is in line with the reality.
Let's be very clear. Shefzilla is, was, and has been true to the name. A creature that crawled out of the depths to express rage and anger against the establishment. Sometimes directed, sometimes senseless acts of destruction. Sometimes the results have been productive, other times not at all.
Heidi made allusions to it, and so have I. You don't come, "Straight Outta Compton", metaphorically speaking without some scars. Or often anger. Shefzilla has offered me the extraordinary opportunity to channel that anger, and rage against the machine. It was incredibly cathartic.
Of course there is no "machine", and in ways I'd not like to admit Shefzilla has continued a cycle of violence. Some wrong was observed, rightly or wrongly it was reacted to?and the cycle continued.
The problem with anger is that it's great to get you out of bad spots, it can be very useful. But when you feel entitled to be angry, it never ends—it's exhausting.
Anyways, these days I'm not so angry anymore. In fact sometimes I think I have even been happy. Shefzilla—I like writing it—but the writing of it I also do to avoid writing the hard stuff I know how to write, but I'm afraid face.
So it's perhaps merciful that Shefzilla has contracted a terminal illness and will soon die, impossible to say when, but an end is in sight.
that's the facts as I see 'um?