The New York Times today has a long, interesting, and inadvertently humorous account of the professional breakup between Laurent Tourondel and Jimmy Haber, the owner of BLT Group, and it reads like a lost episode of Divorce Court.
Tourondel split from Haber, with whom he spent seven years opening BLT outposts from New York to Hong Kong, in March 2010. And as the Times has discovered, they are not exactly the kind of exes inclined to get along for the sake of the children.
According to Haber, Tourondel “constantly resisted calling anything BLT” and was “self-absorbed and self-centered.” The chef also “doesn’t understand how to make a restaurant a financial success.” For his part, Tourondel charges that Haber “chose this way. I think he made it personal.” Somewhat unnecessarily, he adds that “there is a lot of bad feeling” between the two of them.
Sounding even more like the wronged spouse, Tourondel asserts that he “didn’t choose to be in this situation … no one would. I’m only a chef who cares about food.” But Haber’s lawyers claim that Tourondel also did his share of name-calling, allegedly sending an email in which he described one of Haber’s partners as an “idiot” and a “stupid guy.”
For his part, Haber talks about Tourondel like he’s a trophy wife, saying that “a celebrity chef” is “useful for establishing a brand, but you’re almost better off when they leave, since their egos don’t get in the way.”
But as anonymous associates of both parties imply, neither one is much of a summer picnic: Haber is described as “exceptionally demanding,” and both are pegged as “control freaks.”
Reading this makes it easier to understand why Chris Cannon roundly refused to talk to the media about his split from Michael White. In silence there is dignity, if not as many headlines.