Wednesday 21 March 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: If you can't stand the heat, chefs, then maybe it's time to get out of the kitchen

A food critic wouldn't be doing her job if she didn't side with the customers

NASTY: Chefs Oliver Dunne and Rory Carville in the image Dunne posted online
NASTY: Chefs Oliver Dunne and Rory Carville in the image Dunne posted online

Eiilis O'Hanlon

When in a hole, stop digging. Unless you're Michelin-starred chef Oliver Dunne, in which case the preferred option seems to be to hang up your cleaver for a while, pick up a shovel, and start working on an even bigger pit.

Ever since he posted a photoshopped picture of himself and a colleague holding up the severed head of Sunday Independent restaurant critic Lucinda O'Sullivan, in response to a mildly critical review of aspects of their new venture in Dublin, his behaviour has been one long misquote of the Seamus Heaney line. "Between my finger and my thumb, a sense of boorish entitlement and maudlin self-pity rests. I'll dig with it."

"Don't get mad, get even." It's an understandable urge, and there are plenty of ways to go with that. Severed, blood-dripping heads isn't one of them. Though you can see where Dunne's coming from. The restaurant is called Cleaver East. Word association kicks in. There's also a long tradition of revenge played for laughs. Take Vincent Price in Theatre Of Blood as a ham Shakespearean actor, dispatching his critics in a variety of gruesome ways. That, of course, was about imaginary characters, which makes a rather large difference. It's also done in Price's case with a generous dollop of self-deprecating wit and style. Dunne seems to be incapable of taking himself with anything less than simmering seriousness. You'd have to be visually illiterate not to see the picture he posted as anything other than nasty.

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