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  • Phil Vettel

    Post #1 - January 12th, 2021, 1:26 pm
    Post #1 - January 12th, 2021, 1:26 pm Post #1 - January 12th, 2021, 1:26 pm
    Wow...end of an era.

    https://chicago.eater.com/2021/1/12/222 ... he-tribune
  • Post #2 - January 12th, 2021, 2:25 pm
    Post #2 - January 12th, 2021, 2:25 pm Post #2 - January 12th, 2021, 2:25 pm
    Crushed. How can Chicago not have a culinary critic? Maybe some of the folks on our wonderful LTH Forum apply for the job?
  • Post #3 - January 12th, 2021, 2:44 pm
    Post #3 - January 12th, 2021, 2:44 pm Post #3 - January 12th, 2021, 2:44 pm
    https://www.chicagoreader.com/author/mike-sula
  • Post #4 - January 12th, 2021, 3:10 pm
    Post #4 - January 12th, 2021, 3:10 pm Post #4 - January 12th, 2021, 3:10 pm
    Phil Vettel, Howard Reich, Blair Kamin...it was a tough week for this Trib subscriber. Here's hoping the Trib keeps around Louisa Chu and Nick Kindelsperger for food and dining coverage.
    -Mary
  • Post #5 - January 15th, 2021, 6:17 am
    Post #5 - January 15th, 2021, 6:17 am Post #5 - January 15th, 2021, 6:17 am
    ‘The work is never done’ — Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel says goodbye after 41 years

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/c ... story.html
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #6 - January 15th, 2021, 2:51 pm
    Post #6 - January 15th, 2021, 2:51 pm Post #6 - January 15th, 2021, 2:51 pm
    Dave148 wrote:‘The work is never done’ — Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel says goodbye after 41 years

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/c ... story.html


    This is a very good read. Really an ode to the Chicago dining scene. It makes me appreciate the level of talent here and how much things have changed in the last two decades.
  • Post #7 - January 17th, 2021, 8:37 pm
    Post #7 - January 17th, 2021, 8:37 pm Post #7 - January 17th, 2021, 8:37 pm
    Too bad we can't read his last column as it is behind the CT's paywall, and, after all, there is really no reason to subscribe. Less reason each day.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #8 - January 18th, 2021, 5:34 am
    Post #8 - January 18th, 2021, 5:34 am Post #8 - January 18th, 2021, 5:34 am
    GAF wrote:Too bad we can't read his last column as it is behind the CT's paywall, and, after all, there is really no reason to subscribe. Less reason each day.

    If the mods will approve - I’m happy to copy and paste it.
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #9 - January 18th, 2021, 5:55 am
    Post #9 - January 18th, 2021, 5:55 am Post #9 - January 18th, 2021, 5:55 am
    GAF wrote:Too bad we can't read his last column as it is behind the CT's paywall, and, after all, there is really no reason to subscribe. Less reason each day.


    Put outline.com/ in front of the url...

    outline.com/https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/ct-food-phil-vettel-farewell-0115-20210115-2zuijkpeuzfc7daeffok34xohy-story.html
    Cookingblahg.blogspot.com
  • Post #10 - January 18th, 2021, 8:50 am
    Post #10 - January 18th, 2021, 8:50 am Post #10 - January 18th, 2021, 8:50 am
    Thank you, Coogles, for this suggestion.

    It was nice to read Phil Vettel's last column. While he was never my favorite food critic, he was someone who cared about Chicago restaurants and had an easily digestible style. When I subscribed to the Tribune before its sad, lingering decline, I always made a point of reading his reviews which were thoughtful and well-crafted. I would sometimes visit a restaurant as a result. He added something valuable to Chicago culture.

    I long thought that Phil Vettel was a pseudonym (Filled with Vittles), but I guess not. But it would be a good one. (St. Paul had a critic Oliver Towne - all over town - which was).

    Best wishes, Phil. Thank you.

    I guess that LTHForum will serve as the place where all of us amateur food critics have their say. It could be worse.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #11 - February 23rd, 2021, 1:23 am
    Post #11 - February 23rd, 2021, 1:23 am Post #11 - February 23rd, 2021, 1:23 am
    Honestly, it’s no great loss. Vettel was a lousy restaurant critic and he paled in comparison to any of the critics at The NY Times or any of the LA publications, as well as other Chicago restaurant critics such as Jeff Ruby.

    He was derelict in the basic duty of a critic to his or her audience: Criticize. To Vettel, just every restaurants that he reviewed was worthy of two or three stars, thereby rendering his ratings meaningless. His reviews consisted of a bland listing of what he ate and what he liked, which was virtually everything. Vettel never showed any particular passion for his subject.

    Invariably, Vettel included quotations from the proprietors, chefs and front-of-the-house people of the restaurants he reviewed. What critic does that? Did Blair Kamin quote architects or owners of buildings he reviewed? Does Chris Jones include interviews with Robert Falls in his reviews of Goodman Theater plays? Really, Vettel didn’t write reviews - he wrote puff pieces that were really features rather than criticism.

    More damning was an interview that he gave to Louisa Chu and Monica Eng on their “Chewing” podcast. Vettel said two things that made me go ballistic. First, he said that if a restaurant was bad, he wouldn’t publish review of it unless it was owned by one of the big restaurant groups. That alone is an abrogation of his responsibilities - his role is to review restaurants of all kinds, not to shield independant businesses. Does Greg Kot avoid publishing bad album reviews if the artists in question are young upstarts? Of course not. Second, he said that he viewed his role as providing advice for suburbanites who might only dine out one a month (implying that he didn’t regard foodies and regular and experienced diners as his audience). This completely misses the mark and makes him sound like that dear lady in the Dakotas who wrote a rave review of the local Olive Garden. Dumbing down should never have been acceptable in a city with a sophisticated, world-class and diverse food scene such as Chicago.
  • Post #12 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:01 am
    Post #12 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:01 am Post #12 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:01 am
    Bitter, are we?

    I never minded Vettel, if only from an informational standpoint. I admired his breezy writing style--which is frankly becoming somewhat of a lost art--and used his reviews to gauge whether I wanted to dine at that particular venue. Period.

    But what frosts me is when a personally-geared-specific lambasting comes from a critic without any factoring in of how difficult it is to stage the theatre, so to speak. I actually kind of agree with Vettel's supposed delineation between scrutinizing large restaurant chains more harshly than mom-and-pop operations. If Melman or Levy unveil a turkey--which isn't very often--I'd expect any critic to say so. A family operation where this singular storefront is their life, their very existence? Nope, I'd leave that to someone else. An 'abrogation' of his duties?! Bullroar.

    I'd like to hear--maybe she's spoken out already--how Louisa feels on the matter. I met her at Burt Katz' (Gulliver's, Inferno, Pequod, Burt's Place) funeral--we spoke for a few minutes and I decided immediately she was a kindred spirit.

    I've written a handful of feature pieces over the years, always allowing the human aspect to be woven into the copy. I realize features of 1500-2000 words are a completely different animal than a 500-word blurb in the Trib, but it never hurts to seek out the innate niceness in people, and walk in their shoes, if only for a little while.
  • Post #13 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:41 am
    Post #13 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:41 am Post #13 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:41 am
    jnm123 wrote:Bitter, are we?

    I never minded Vettel, if only from an informational standpoint. I admired his breezy writing style--which is frankly becoming somewhat of a lost art--and used his reviews to gauge whether I wanted to dine at that particular venue. Period.

    But what frosts me is when a personally-geared-specific lambasting comes from a critic without any factoring in of how difficult it is to stage the theatre, so to speak. I actually kind of agree with Vettel's supposed delineation between scrutinizing large restaurant chains more harshly than mom-and-pop operations. If Melman or Levy unveil a turkey--which isn't very often--I'd expect any critic to say so. A family operation where this singular storefront is their life, their very existence? Nope, I'd leave that to someone else. An 'abrogation' of his duties?! Bullroar.

    I'd like to hear--maybe she's spoken out already--how Louisa feels on the matter. I met her at Burt Katz' (Gulliver's, Inferno, Pequod, Burt's Place) funeral--we spoke for a few minutes and I decided immediately she was a kindred spirit.

    I've written a handful of feature pieces over the years, always allowing the human aspect to be woven into the copy. I realize features of 1500-2000 words are a completely different animal than a 500-word blurb in the Trib, but it never hurts to seek out the innate niceness in people, and walk in their shoes, if only for a little while.


    I agree completely. I don’t need a restaurant critic to be advanced Yelp to be useful. To be honest, I really haven’t needed critics for their pronouncements since getting involved with this board. With LTH, I have several dozen critics calibrated to my own palate and interests. So reading the more feature-like stories from Vettel and others suits me just fine—it’s more background and context, which I find interesting. To each their own...I appreciated Phil and his departure does leave a void.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #14 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:49 am
    Post #14 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:49 am Post #14 - February 23rd, 2021, 7:49 am
    Jonathan Gold took a similar approach to not publishing reviews for bad local restaurants.
  • Post #15 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:41 am
    Post #15 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:41 am Post #15 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:41 am
    I got less problems with Vettel's inhibitions to say bad things about places. After all, what exactly is a *bad* restaurant. Both Valois and Omega could be considered, if bad is not the right word, I'm not quite sure what is, but to me, at least, both places are good to very good (at least). On the other hand, Jimmy's hot dog place has never been good for me (fries excepted) no matter how many times I try it. I did have a long standing problem with Mr. Vettel.

    I just felt his output was so weak. He could not even put out a review a week. Why? He was not an editor nor did he have other reporting obligations as far as I know. Hey, you got at least 19 meals a week if you do brunch on the weekends. How come he could not report on more?
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #16 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:43 am
    Post #16 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:43 am Post #16 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:43 am
    WhyBeeSea wrote:Jonathan Gold

    Jonathan Gold's "Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles" came out in 2000. Soon after publication I gave my nephew, then a Los Angeles sheriff, now retired, a copy.

    He ate lunch with a revolving group of sheriffs once a week and was soon the go-to guy for restaurant recommendations. He kept the book in his duty bag, did not tell his workmates about the book for a few years, and was thought an oracle of eats. :)

    Jonathan Gold, count me a Fan!
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #17 - February 23rd, 2021, 9:52 am
    Post #17 - February 23rd, 2021, 9:52 am Post #17 - February 23rd, 2021, 9:52 am
    Being a bit of a reverse food snob on a tight budget, I found Vettel's reviews far more amusing than informative. I'd occasionally leave one out for my teenager to wonder at "Who'd pay that much to eat that!" They often seemed to emphasize the business side, which is now covered by others in the Thursday Trib feature section.

    I believe a great restaurant critic should bring the same skills to reviewing a supper club fish fry (meaning a true supper club, not a faux one) as they do to a 27-course tasting menu, recognizing that each has its own standards of excellence. Carol Deptolla in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does a good job of that. I suppose Vettel had reached the point in his career where he figured that if he was dining on someone else's nickel, it might as well be the tasting menu rather than a tavern crust or a pepper and egg. He long ago left the "20 Best Chicago French Fry" listicles to more junior writers, who have been doing a reasonable job with them. The star inflation didn't bother me. It seemed the same as grade inflation and participation trophies.

    I've found far more interesting restaurants via WTTW's "Check Please" than in Vettel's reviews. When seeking out a restaurant in a particular location, or particular type, I find asking on a crowd-sourced platform, such as reddit or this forum, turns up a variety of honest, excellent suggestions.
  • Post #18 - February 23rd, 2021, 9:52 am
    Post #18 - February 23rd, 2021, 9:52 am Post #18 - February 23rd, 2021, 9:52 am
    Vital Information wrote:I did have a long standing problem with Mr. Vettel.

    I just felt his output was so weak. He could not even put out a review a week. Why? He was not an editor nor did he have other reporting obligations as far as I know. Hey, you got at least 19 meals a week if you do brunch on the weekends. How come he could not report on more?


    Budget—both print (and now web) space and $. I doubt it was laziness.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #19 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:21 pm
    Post #19 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:21 pm Post #19 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:21 pm
    ld111134 wrote:Did Blair Kamin quote architects or owners of buildings he reviewed?

    As a matter of fact, more often than not.
  • Post #20 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:46 pm
    Post #20 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:46 pm Post #20 - February 23rd, 2021, 8:46 pm
    scottsol wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:Did Blair Kamin quote architects or owners of buildings he reviewed?

    As a matter of fact, more often than not.

    In his feature stories but not in his critiques.
  • Post #21 - February 23rd, 2021, 10:00 pm
    Post #21 - February 23rd, 2021, 10:00 pm Post #21 - February 23rd, 2021, 10:00 pm
    Jeanne Gang quoted in a building review.
    https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/blair-kamin/ct-biz-gang-tower-kamin-0722-story.html

    Quote from named partner of architecture firm for Rubinstein building at U of C.
    https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/blair-kamin/ct-biz-university-of-chicago-rubenstein-forum-kamin-20201026-xmjaz6gflvfvlczgrj2k44c5zm-story.html

    Quote from founder of architecture firm for 150 N Wacker.
    https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/blair-kamin/ct-biz-bank-of-america-tower-kamin-20201009-ylb3k4gfh5hzrcm4pbgj7lachu-story.html
  • Post #22 - February 23rd, 2021, 10:05 pm
    Post #22 - February 23rd, 2021, 10:05 pm Post #22 - February 23rd, 2021, 10:05 pm


    I stand corrected. However, I do stand by my views on Vettel being a suboptimal restaurant “critic” (he was really a restaurant columnist).
  • Post #23 - February 23rd, 2021, 11:17 pm
    Post #23 - February 23rd, 2021, 11:17 pm Post #23 - February 23rd, 2021, 11:17 pm
    ld111134 wrote:he was really a restaurant columnist


    Sounds about right. And thinking of his works as "profiles" or, in many cases, "chef profiles", and ignoring the inflated star ratings, I can see them in a more favorable light. Although they did mean that there was little or no space for real reviews.
  • Post #24 - February 24th, 2021, 12:38 pm
    Post #24 - February 24th, 2021, 12:38 pm Post #24 - February 24th, 2021, 12:38 pm
    ld111134 wrote:However, I do stand by my views on Vettel being a suboptimal restaurant “critic” (he was really a restaurant columnist).
    Well put. It was information, but the notion of informed criticism was abandoned. It's not supposed to be an easy job that makes a lot of friends. If you're so soft you pull your punches for independent "little guy" establishments, you're disgracing your profession. Your loyalty is to the readers. They don't get the time or money you could've saved them from spending on a crappy meal back.
  • Post #25 - February 24th, 2021, 10:23 pm
    Post #25 - February 24th, 2021, 10:23 pm Post #25 - February 24th, 2021, 10:23 pm
    bweiny wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:However, I do stand by my views on Vettel being a suboptimal restaurant “critic” (he was really a restaurant columnist).
    Well put. It was information, but the notion of informed criticism was abandoned. It's not supposed to be an easy job that makes a lot of friends. If you're so soft you pull your punches for independent "little guy" establishments, you're disgracing your profession. Your loyalty is to the readers. They don't get the time or money you could've saved them from spending on a crappy meal back.


    Exactly.

    Criticism is a discipline, whether it’s music criticism, film criticism, art criticism or restaurant criticism. It’s purpose is to both inform an audience and to educate that audience. Criticism involves analysis, which was sorely lacking in Vettel’s writing. Mere boosterism is not criticism. In that way, there was no substantive difference between Vettel’s columns and Ina Pinkney’s “reviews” of breakfast joints in the Tribune (I could go on about the provincialism of what used to be the Tribune’s Wednesday food section, but that’s an issue for another thread).

    As to Vettel’s almost exclusive awarding of two or three stars in nearly every one of his reviews, I will add that if every restaurant is very good-to-excellent, then excellence becomes devoid of meaning and that metric is useless.
  • Post #26 - February 25th, 2021, 2:15 pm
    Post #26 - February 25th, 2021, 2:15 pm Post #26 - February 25th, 2021, 2:15 pm
    ld111134 wrote:In that way, there was no substantive difference between Vettel’s columns and Ina Pinkney’s “reviews” of breakfast joints in the Tribune


    Interesting comparison. I always took Pinkney's articles as recommendations or endorsements rather than reviews. Guess I tacitly assumed that she didn't mention places that she didn't particularly like. Her articles could reasonably help a reader decide whether they might like a spot. And I wonder if she considers herself to be a serious journalist.

    Was the Trib's food coverage better in the old days? I've only been a reader for about 8 years. Biggest change in that time has been reduction in quantity.
  • Post #27 - February 25th, 2021, 5:01 pm
    Post #27 - February 25th, 2021, 5:01 pm Post #27 - February 25th, 2021, 5:01 pm
    tjr wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:In that way, there was no substantive difference between Vettel’s columns and Ina Pinkney’s “reviews” of breakfast joints in the Tribune


    Interesting comparison. I always took Pinkney's articles as recommendations or endorsements rather than reviews. Guess I tacitly assumed that she didn't mention places that she didn't particularly like. Her articles could reasonably help a reader decide whether they might like a spot. And I wonder if she considers herself to be a serious journalist.

    Was the Trib's food coverage better in the old days? I've only been a reader for about 8 years. Biggest change in that time has been reduction in quantity.


    As I recall, much of the food and dining section has always been middle brow, including Bill Daley's wine columns and the Good Housekeeping-level recipes. There were some notable exceptions, including articles written by Louisa Chu, Kevin Pang and Nick Kindelsperger who could wax poetic about street food, neighborhood restaurants and "ethnic" dining establishments. It's gotten worse - the independent section has disappeared and is mostly reliant on reprints of third-party content from The Washington Post and various websites.

    This is disappointing considering the very high level, I dare say world class, level of criticism elsewhere in the paper - Greg Kot is one of the best rock critics in America, Blair Kamin won a Pulitzer Prize for his architectural criticism and Chris Jones is better than anyone at The New York Times since Frank Rich left the drama desk.
  • Post #28 - February 25th, 2021, 6:30 pm
    Post #28 - February 25th, 2021, 6:30 pm Post #28 - February 25th, 2021, 6:30 pm
    ld111134 wrote:
    tjr wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:In that way, there was no substantive difference between Vettel’s columns and Ina Pinkney’s “reviews” of breakfast joints in the Tribune


    Interesting comparison. I always took Pinkney's articles as recommendations or endorsements rather than reviews. Guess I tacitly assumed that she didn't mention places that she didn't particularly like. Her articles could reasonably help a reader decide whether they might like a spot. And I wonder if she considers herself to be a serious journalist.

    Was the Trib's food coverage better in the old days? I've only been a reader for about 8 years. Biggest change in that time has been reduction in quantity.




    This is disappointing considering the very high level, I dare say world class, level of criticism elsewhere in the paper - Greg Kot is one of the best rock critics in America, Blair Kamin won a Pulitzer Prize for his architectural criticism and Chris Jones is better than anyone at The New York Times since Frank Rich left the drama desk.

    Greg Kot left the Trib a year ago. Blair Kamin left last month.
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #29 - February 25th, 2021, 8:17 pm
    Post #29 - February 25th, 2021, 8:17 pm Post #29 - February 25th, 2021, 8:17 pm
    Dave148 wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:
    tjr wrote:
    ld111134 wrote:In that way, there was no substantive difference between Vettel’s columns and Ina Pinkney’s “reviews” of breakfast joints in the Tribune


    Interesting comparison. I always took Pinkney's articles as recommendations or endorsements rather than reviews. Guess I tacitly assumed that she didn't mention places that she didn't particularly like. Her articles could reasonably help a reader decide whether they might like a spot. And I wonder if she considers herself to be a serious journalist.

    Was the Trib's food coverage better in the old days? I've only been a reader for about 8 years. Biggest change in that time has been reduction in quantity.




    This is disappointing considering the very high level, I dare say world class, level of criticism elsewhere in the paper - Greg Kot is one of the best rock critics in America, Blair Kamin won a Pulitzer Prize for his architectural criticism and Chris Jones is better than anyone at The New York Times since Frank Rich left the drama desk.

    Greg Kot left the Trib a year ago. Blair Kamin left last month.


    Your point being what, exactly? While Kot and Kamin were at the Tribune, there were (and still are) among the best at their craft. Vettel was no where near the best at his.
  • Post #30 - March 1st, 2021, 12:23 am
    Post #30 - March 1st, 2021, 12:23 am Post #30 - March 1st, 2021, 12:23 am
    dave148 wrote: Greg Kot left the Trib a year ago. Blair Kamin left last month.
    ld111134 wrote: Your point being what, exactly? While Kot and Kamin were at the Tribune, they were (and still are) among the best at their craft. Vettel was nowhere near the best at his.
    The point is that the Tribune is a zombie which should be buried. And in no way should be contemplated as a trustworthy source. The people taking leave from the newspaper recognize this.
    Valuable links for survival, without the monetization attempt: http://74.115.231.54/~pudgym29/bookmark4.html

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