Esquire Critic Mocks Chef And Cancer Survivor Grant Achatz For Being 'Skinny'

By Anthony Todd in Food on Sep 29, 2015 4:03PM


Esquire Critic John Mariani is notorious in the food world for his, shall we say, quirks. He's been accused of demanding restaurants pay bills and cab fare, he reportedly carries around a card which he hands to bartenders so they will make his favorite drink correctly, he supposedly stole a wine list from Alinea, and he hates all things modernist. Note that, aside from the last one, he denies all of this. Also, he and Alinea chef Grant Achatz notoriously don't get along. In fact, Achatz complained about him in his memoir.

So it's no surprise that Mariani would post something snarky about Achatz, particularly since he's in town for a visit. However, when Nick Kokonas, Achatz's business partner, saw the post on Facebook, he noticed something strange about it.

Here's Mariani's post, taken from Kokonas's page (we aren't friends with Mariani on Facebook). He joked, "Trusting a skinny chef to serve you a 30-course meal is like having an invalid plan your vacation."

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What a funny joke! Except that plenty of chefs are fit. And unfortunately, Mariani may have misjudged why Achatz was looking so thin, as pointed out by Kokonas.

"[T]his photo was taken about 1 year after chef Achatz, my friend and business partner, survived stage IVb tongue cancer. Guess going through chemo, radiation, and working 14 hour days in the process doesn't give you much time to sit around and fatten yourself up on the kind of food you like to eat, John."

Ouch. Way to make fun of a cancer survivor, Mariani.

Foodies and friends of Kokonas have piled on in the comments, and one claims to have commented on Mariani's page that the post was "mean-spirited" shortly before Mariani took down the photo Tuesday morning.