Late last night I received an email from Chef Peter Tempelhoff, announcing that he is banning me from eating at his new FYN Restaurant. This is a reversal to what Tempelhoff told me at the Eat Out Awards ten days ago, in that I was welcome to eat at FYN, and that he does not discriminate against anyone, when I asked him directly! It can only signal that Tempelhoff is petrified that I might judge his new fine-dining restaurant, opening on Friday, to not be good enough!
The email did not make sense:
It is with a good amount of reflection and consideration that I pen this letter, a style I have not had a lot of practice at, and one I hope to never repeat again.
On behalf of all the staff at Fyn, I have to take the drastic step of enforcing my rights of admission.
In the past you have abused my staff, with your rude rants and made extremely negative and unfair comments about Origins & Seafood restaurants and their chefs and managers. No longer can I stomach the abuse which my loyal and hard-working staff receives- at your obvious pleasure; I just don’t need the stress or aggravation in my restaurant.
This may seem like an attempt to ride the wave you created around 2 friends’ restaurants in Stellenbosch & Cape Town over the last year, but I can assure it is not! This ban is a long time coming and is a direct and timeous reaction to your recent “karma” rants (after the Eat Out awards) directed towards those very same friends of mine.
And by the way, that day at the awards I did not say that, “everyone is welcome in my restaurant, and that I should not worry about being discriminated against. “
I said that “We welcomed all sorts,” but failed to close off the sentence by adding … “except you.”
To sum this painful experience up… Chris, you are not welcome at Fyn.
So please do not call for bookings, or try to grab a walk-in table, as you will be escorted off the premises by security.
Regards in Solidarity,
My response is as follows:
- I do not ‘abuse’ staff, nor do ‘rude rants’, and am lauded for writing reviews in honesty. Tempelhoff has never been near me when I have done a Review, or eaten a meal at one of the three Liz McGrath Hotel restaurants, at Greenhouse at Cellars-Hohenhort in Constantia, The Plettenberg in Plettenberg Bay, and Seafood and Origins at The Marine in Hermanus, when I have eaten there.
# In January 2016 I last ate at Seafood at The Plettenberg, and it was a very poor experience in terms of service. Yes, this review was written 23 months ago, and this is the first time that Tempelhoff has responded to it!
Just prior to my visit it was announced that The Plettenberg had lost its five star status and its Relais & Chateaux accreditation! My review was welcomed by the then-GM of the Hotel, Annemie Parker, who responded to it as follows, perhaps not seen by Tempelhoff:
‘POSTSCRIPT 27/1/2016: On Twitter Relais & Chateaux communicated this morning that ‘The Plettenberg is not a Relais & Châteaux anymore since Dec 2015‘!
POSTSCRIPT 27/1/2016: The Plettenberg hotel GM Annemie Parker was most professional in responding to our Review: ‘I wanted to send you an email to acknowledge that I have seen the blog that you posted about Seafood at the Plettenberg. Thank you so much for all your comments, we appreciate the feedback and we will most certainly action all the points raised and hope that you will visit us again in the near future’.
#. In June 2017 I ate at then-new Origins restaurant at the Marine Hotel, once again an extremely poor service experience. The new GM at the time (but has left the employ of the hotel since) was … Annemie Parker. Once again I detailed my experience in a review. The email above is the first response to it by Tempelhoff since it was posted 17 months ago!
Restaurant Review: Origins Restaurant at The Marine in Hermanus offers poor service, not true to its name!
#. Prior to the Origins dining, I ate at its predecessor SeaFood at The Marine Hotel , which was one of my worst eating experiences at a McGrath hotel restaurant, of which Tempelhoff has been and still is the Executive Chef, especially in its interaction with the then-GM Hamish Hofmeyr, in August 2013, yes five years ago, once again the first response to my Review of that meal:
# Reading Tempelhoff’s email it is interesting to note that he refers to my dining experiences at his restaurants in Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay of 17 months, 23 months, and five years ago, but conveniently forgets that I have eaten at Greenhouse at Constantia-Hohenhort twice since 2015. There was no problem in accepting my reservations for both these dinners, booked by me, and the review that I wrote about one of these dinners:
. I invited my friend Katie Friedman of FYN landlord Urban Lime to dinner, and this dinner resulted in the company inviting Tempelhoff to open his new FYN restaurant in their Speaker’s Corner building! I told him this at the Eat Out Awards, and he appeared surprised about this! It was a 10/10 Review in respect of the food served and service offered:
. In August 2017 I invited Gustavo and Elizabeth de Mello from New York to join me for dinner, having met them at the then-World’s 50 Best Restaurant Estela in New York in 2016, to thank them for the fabulous evening we spent at the restaurant. I did not review the eating experience, as my guests paid for the meal, and I would have been more critical of some of the aspects of the Greenhouse meal, had I paid.
2. While Tempelhoff denies that he is acting to ‘ride the wave’ of restaurant bannings, he contradicts this by referring to two friends of his, and my ‘karma rants’ in my Eat Out Awards blogpost, clearly referring to his Eat Out loser friends Chef Liam Tomlin (still cannot make Eat Out Top 20 with his Bree Street Branch and a bad ranking slide for his Beau Constantia Branch); and Bertus Basson (a spectacular fall from 9th ranking in 2017 to 18th place this year), and demonstrating that he does not have the faintest clue what ‘karma’ means! This may explain his weird email ending of ‘Regards in Solidarity’. This is my report of the Eat Out Awards 2018 and my purported ‘karma rants’ about Tomlin and Basson:
Eat Out Awards 2018: a refreshing change, knocks old-guard chefs off their multi-restaurant perches!
It would appear that it is Bully Basson in particular that has called for my banning at FYN, an obsessive campaign he instigated since my 31 July 2017 Review of his crap Spek en Bone restaurant in Stellenbosch went viral!
3. At the Eat Out Awards Tempelhoff and I and his team sat at neighbouring tables, and before the start of the proceedings Tempelhoff and I had a chat about FYN, and I enquired about being allowed to eat there. He agreed immediately, and said that his restaurants do not discriminate, a policy which was stated spontaneously and with credibility, impressing me. I always have my notebook with me, and wrote his words down immediately. I even took a photograph of Tempelhoff, the new FYN Chef Ashley Moss and a colleague at the Awards, something he would not have allowed had he been so supposedly disenchanted with me! This welcome message I had also received from the new FYN GM Jennifer Hugé, giving me the all clear.
I can only conclude that Tempelhoff does not have confidence in his new FYN restaurant. In banning me from it, he is paying me a huge compliment – thank you – and admitting that it is not up to the standard of fine dining that I would expect, fearing my Review of it! Another chef joins the Bully and Multi-Restaurant Club! It could also be designed as the lowest of low PR stunt to attract diners to his city centre restaurant, with slow low reservations! Other restaurateurs and fine dining lovers have expressed scepticism about his ability to fill his new restaurant. It is clear that Tempelhoff has no control over the poor service offered in the McGrath Collection hotel restaurants, and his joint venture in Mondiall in the Waterfront was a miserable failure, just having been turned into a La Parada. It will be fascinating to see what karma dishes up for Tempelhoff.
POSTSCRIPT 13/12: I have received a lawyer’s letter on behalf of Chef Peter Tempelhoff, demanding that this Blogpost be removed, and replaced with an apology! Read our response to it below!
POSTSCRIPT 18/12: In settlement of an urgent application at the Cape High Court today arising out of the wording of parts of this Blogpost, I agreed to change the title and the second paragraph of the Blogpost to the present wording, and Tempelhoff agreed to uplift the ban against me visiting and reviewing his new restaurant FYN. This settlement agreement was made an order of the Court by Judge Salie Hlophe.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein