This past Tuesday, May 30th, looked to be as normal as any other workday. Several video shoots were on deck and all preparation and communication had been handled to clear the way for a smooth day of getting coverage of Los Angeles' dynamic restaurant scene. It's our job to tell these unique culinary stories, whether it be of a low key cereal bar in the back of a hip menswear boutique or a new Silver Lake restaurant featuring a bevy of delectable fried rice iterations.
But as Foodbeast writer Peter and I were sitting in the courtyard of the Hauser & Wirth art gallery in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles' Arts District, little did we know that the next story we'd tell would be of one Chef Wes Whitsell showing us a level of disrespect we'd expect if we cut him off on the 10 or if we were the proverbial coffee table to his throbbing toe. Yes, that Wes Whitsell, of Osteria La Buca and Soho House New York. And now, of Manuela, the restaurant we were set to highlight that day.
Without any introduction or context, he brusquely asked us, "What are you guys doing here? Who are you with?" After Peter explains that we were there to shoot his deer burger for a news video highlight, we were met with the attitude of an irritable prima donna, "Yeah well that's cancelled. This shoot is not happening. I don't want to put my food next to some Spam fries!"
Sure, Foodbeast has covered Spam fries before on our Instagram. Who wouldn't? They're delicious and ingenious. But posted up a few days later was a picture of an ostrich filet, from BOA Steakhouse in Beverly Hills. Clearly they weren't as afraid of good pub like this Whitsell guy was.
Anyways, the tantrum didn't stop there. No, no. The man seemed to be just warming up. After leaving us initially, he sees us still sitting in the same spot minutes later, not realizing we were just waiting for the PR contact who arranged this shoot, just so we could get some clarification regarding this abrupt plot twist.
"Look, I already said this shoot isn't happening alright?! You're not putting my food with your Spam fries!"
Whitsell is seething at this point, incredulous that his esteemed deer burger that's clearly much better than processed meat repurposed delectably into convenient French fry form is being mentioned with it in the same breath. Technically, they're not even our Spam fries, but hey seethe on.
He then turns to some folks sitting at his restaurant and bellows,"They're trying to put my deer burger next to some Spam fries!!!"
Cool, man. Heard you the first time.
You want to throw a temper party and invite Foodbeast over? My guy, besides bringing the chips and dip, just know that our trip to your little fickle shindig with only deer burgers being served takes a cumulative time of damn near three hours — based on our Santa Ana office location — and I'd have to make sure there's room for a video team member to document the whole experience, one who's knee deep in more important documentation like, you know, Spam fries. You've been gracious with your sudden invite to your hissy fit function Wes, but I think we'd have used this time and budget for something a whole lot better.
And really, those Spam fries wouldn't have been directly next to your precious deer burger. In fact, the highlight wouldn't have been posted on our Instagram and instead would have lived on the Foodbeast Facebook page as a news video, to be seen by over four million people as hopefully something that tickles their palates and motivates them to take a visit over to Manuela for some one-of-a-kind, best in the whole universe deer burger. Matter of fact, this precious manna of a deer burger wouldn't have been in the same vicinity of the humble Spam fries. See here at Foodbeast, we cover all aspects of the culinary world, seen through our lens.
So, why the imperious attitude oh great Chef Whitsell?
Perhaps he's had a bad experience with Spam before? That lid is the katana of food packaging, after all. Or maybe his favorite singer of his favorite band is allergic to French fries? I mean, think of the horror he would commiserate in knowing that Chad Kroger of Nickleback has suffered through life by not ever tasting the perfect, golden fries at McDonald's. Maybe it's both.
At this point, I don't even know. And I doubt I ever will, really. Because I sure as heck am not being offered enough deer burgers to ever tolerate being talked down to and disrespected in the manner that the venerable Chef Wes Whitsell, Lord of the Deer Burgers, had done so that day.
Spam is a saint Whitsell! You hear me? Spam is a saint.