WASHINGTON -- A chef in the nation's capital has apologized to food bloggers for making comments during an awards acceptance speech on Sunday that he said "were taken out of the context."
Chef and restaurateur Jeff Black, owner of BlackSalt and Black Jack, two establishments that were honored by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, caused a huge stir when he said "It's great to see respect being given to people that work in the business that do the long hard hours, not the bloggers."
The comments, naturally, fueled a foodie controversy in the banquet hall hosting the annual "RAMMY" awards dinner, but also spiraled into an online frenzy that in some ways overshadowed the awards dinner itself.
In an interview with The Washington Post's Tim Carman, Black later clarified what he meant: Food bloggers are actually OK, but anonymous posters on Yelp! and the D.C. area Don Rockwell food forum can be less than savory folks.
According to Black's letter to the blogging and media community:
The truth of the matter is I should have directed my comments to people who use the internet as a Bully Pulpit to deride or denigrate many in the restaurant business. Not the trophy chefs and restaurateurs (who should have thick enough skin to take critical comment in stride), but the people who really make the industry work. Countless times nameless, faceless "Posters" on food blogs deride waiters, bartenders and other restaurant employees without thought of the consequences or the commitment these people make every day.
Black, in his interview with Carman, noted that his speech did resonate with his colleagues in the restaurant community. "Every single chef came up and shook my hand" during the after-party, Black told Carman. "The people in the industry were really thankful."
One food writer and blogger, Nevin Martell, quickly created T-shirts saying "Jeff Black Hates My Blog," though tells Washington City Paper that he wasn't offended by Black's speech on Sunday.
Black, looking to reiterate that he didn't hate bloggers, wore a T-shirt to a Tuesday night charity food event reading "I [heart] bloggers," according to City Paper.
This post has been updated to add in notes about Martlell's T-shirt and Black's T-shirt.