Whether it involved whales vs. sushi chefs, critics vs. chefs or Jonathan Gold vs. "fill in the blank," 2010 was huge for food fights in Los Angeles. Here are the 10 most memorable tiffs of the year, the ones that set the Twitterverse afire.
1) The Cove Team vs. The Hump: While in L.A. attending the Academy Awards earlier this year, the filmmakers behind Oscar-winning documentary The Cove set up a sting operation exposing Santa Monica sushi restaurant The Hump for serving whale as part of its omakase dinner. The restaurant then faced federal charges for serving the illegal meat and permanently closed its doors a couple of weeks later.
2) Jonathan Gold vs. Rick Bayless: OC Weekly writer Gustavo Arellano covered Jonathan Gold's lecture at a CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California fundraising mixer where the food critic critiqued chef Rick Bayless. The offended chef responded in the post's comments section and then on Twitter. Gold smoothed things over and agreed to revisit the chef's Red O restaurant on Melrose. His review afterward was positive but mixed.
3) Red Medicine vs. S. Irene Virbila: Happening just this week, this was the ass-kicking heard around the Twitterverse. The other night while Virbila was waiting for a table at Red Medicine, co-owner Noah Ellis spotted the LA Times food critic and asked her to leave -- but not before snapping her picture. He then posted it on the restaurant's Tumblr site, "So that all restaurants can have a picture of her and make a decision as to whether or not they would like to serve her." Chefs may secretly be cheering Ellis, but it didn't win him many fans among the general population. Comments, on our own blog post and on other sites, have been overwhelmingly negative towards Red Medicine and Ellis.
4) San Gabriel Mayor vs. his Dumpling-Throwing Mistress: What makes this story particularly delicious is the political angle. San Gabriel mayor Albert Huang's "friend," Lu Chen, threw the first punch, er, xiao long bao. The honorable Huang responded by flinging vinegar, then allegedly trying to snatch her purse and driving away while she clung to his vehicle. (You don't need to speak Mandarin
Cantonese to enjoy this CG recreation of the fracas.) He was later arrested on suspicion of felony robbery and assault, though the DA recently announced he won't file charges against Huang -- mainly because the victim is "unavailable."
5) Mark Peel vs. LAist: When LAist editor Lindsay William-Ross blogged about Mark Peel's Tar Pit, his kids, who were running around during happy hour, made a cameo in her review. Peel took offense, and commented on her post. What followed was a fight, in the comments, pitting single people who want a quiet drink at the elegant bar against parents who feel they should be allowed to bring their kids to "family restaurants" that happen to have bars.