While Michael White can apparently do no wrong in the eyes of critics, food bloggers, and anyone else with a mouth and an opinion, he hasn’t exactly won Drew Nieporent’s adoration. At last night’s party to celebrate the 2011 Michelin Guide, Nieporent, who earned two stars for Corton, made it clear to Josh Ozersky that he’s got a meaty bone to pick with White, who earned two stars for Alto and Marea and one for Convivio.
After telling Ozersky that he just hired a “brilliant” pastry chef from the recently closed Veritas, “since Michael White stripped half of New York of its chefs,” Nieporent went on to say the following:
I love Michael White but at the end of the day, Michael, be careful, because I’m going to be outside your kitchen door handing out cards to your staff saying, “Now, who would like to be making a little bit more money than they are now.” He seems to have cherry-picked…. You know, I’ve opened 35 restaurants in 25 years and I did it from within. I think when you extrapolate and when you open new restaurants your job is to reward the people who work for you, not to reward the people you don’t know, that you’ve heard about, or that you can steal from another restaurant. So I don’t know why I brought this thing up, but I guess it’s in my mind, Josh.
Guess so. Nieporent himself would never do such a thing to Jean-Georges or Daniel Boulud, because “we respect one another. There isn’t a chance in hell that if one of their employees came to my doorstep. … I would jeopardize our friendship over a hiring. It’s not a possibility. … At the end of the day what you really have to understand is that I would forfeit a third star in the Michelin Guide if it meant that I would fracture a friendship or a relationship with these guys, and that’s the God’s honest truth.”
At this point, of course, it seems safe to assume that Nieporent’s relationship with White may have suffered more than a few hairline cracks.
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