Response to FYN Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s not-so-fine lawyer’s letter of threat and intimidation!


Yesterday I received a letter from the lawyers of Chef Peter Tempelhoff of newly opened FYN Restaurant, reacting with threat and intimidation to my Blogpost dated 28 November, about being banned from his restaurant, which opened on 30 November. Some speculate that the banning is a cheap publicity shot by Tempelhoff, to fill his 40-seater restaurant, and that the lawyer’s letter is a follow-up to his marketing strategy, to attract further attention to the restaurant.

In the Blogpost about the banning, I wrote that Chef Peter had turned on his confirmation at the Eat Out Awards that I was welcome to eat at his new restaurant, in that everyone is welcome to eat there, and that they do not discriminate against anybody. I also highlighted that Chef Peter pointed numerous fingers at me for my reviews of the McGrath Collection restaurants in Hermanus and in Plettenberg Bay, which he oversees in his day job, all fraught with dreadful service issues. Surprisingly, he had some amnesia about the two good meals I had at Greenhouse at Cellars-Hohenhort, one of which I had written a glowing review about. 

In the letter from Tempelhoff’s lawyer, it is alleged that:

#  Tempelhoff had sent the email of 27 November to me ‘privately as a courtesy to protect your reputation and not publicly embarrass you’. I hardly need to have my reputation as a reputable reviewer protected, and definitely not by Tempelhoff. In fact, by banning me from FYN, he has publicly embarrassed me. The email from the Chef did not state that it was private and confidential. 

#  The headline of my Blogpost ‘Chef Peter Tempelhoff admits that new FYN Restaurant will not be good enough for fine dining!!’ does not represent a statement by Tempelhoff, and rather rudely to me is described as being ‘…a spiteful fabrication of your imagination’. If Tempelhoff feared my Review in banning me, then he cannot have confidence in how fine his fine-dining FYN Restaurant is!

#  that my headline and second paragraph are ‘defamatory statements’ and ‘reprehensible and defamatory in nature, especially in light of the current launch of FYN Restaurant and the publicity surrounding same’. Once again, if Tempelhoff was concerned about the image of his new restaurant, he would have been true to his words at the Eat Out Awards, and welcomed me with open arms, rather than ban me from it two days before its opening! He would have known that I would write about this, and hence I can only deduce that it is part of his publicity program! 

#  I Tweeted the link to my Blogpost 58 times, reaching close to 30000 Twitter followers, he claims. It demonstrates that Tempelhoff has no clue of how Twitter works. He should be far more concerned about the number of readers my Blog has! I find it hilarious that he counted the number of Tweets! 

#  That my Blogpost and Tweets were designed to’ intentionally and maliciously injure our client’s good name and reputation’. It would appear that Tempelhoff brought any negative image problems upon himself by banning this country’s most reputable and honest restaurant reviewer! At no stage was my communication intended as ‘spite’ nor as ‘malicious’ damage. I shared the truth about his communication to me about being welcome to eat at FYN at the Eat Out Awards, echoed by his GM Jennifer Hugé in a private communication via Messenger on 6 October 2018. (In the photograph are FYN GM Jennifer Hugé, and Chefs Peter and Ashley Moss).

#   That my Blogpost has caused Tempelhoff ‘irreparable damage to his reputation in the SA culinary industry, and the general public. Once again, Tempelhoff would have known that I would react to his email, and the banning communication it contained, and could have anticipated the resultant ridicule that has been expressed about it. The fact that he is resorting to legal threat worsens his reputation. Many readers of my Blog have expressed a lack of interest in eating at his new FYN restaurant as a result of his behaviour and disrespect shown to me by him. I have no responsibility for shaping the opinion of others to Tempelhoff’s extremely odd behaviour in banning me before the restaurant had even opened, especially as I introduced Katie Friedman of landlord company Urban Lime to Greenhouse, and thus to Tempelhoff, which resulted in the invitation to Tempelhoff to set up FYN in their Speaker’s Corner Building. As the Friedmans are friends of mine, I naturally would not wish them any harm in their chosen association with Tempelhoff. 

Tempelhoff’s letter demands that I remove my Blogpost above, as well as my Tweets, and replace them with ‘an unconditional apology to our client’! Should I not do so, they will approach the High Court, to demand the removal of the Blogpost, and sue for (at this stage unsubstantiated) damages! What is fascinating is that the lawyer’s letter is focused on Tempelhoff’s reputation, as reflected in the lawyer’s subject line, and not that of his new FYN restaurant, which was the topic of my Blogpost! Another chef ego coming to the fore! One wonders how he will substantiate the self-created damage to his reputation. 

Ironically, since receiving the banning order and replying to it, a French couple wrote to make a booking at FYN via my Blog. I passed the booking on to Ms Hugé on 1 December 2018, which she acknowledged receipt of on the same day. This proves that no malice was intended to Chef Peter nor his new FYN restaurant. Yet Tempelhoff is vindictively discriminating against me in not allowing me to eat at his new restaurant, on no reasonable basis at all, other than that this has become a top Cape Town and Winelands restaurant male chef bully action initiated by Chef Bertus Bully Basson last year! 

I have a good track record in winning High Court cases instituted against my Blog, so I will not allow myself to be intimidated and bullied into any action. This is my Blog, and I will continue to always write the truth about the restaurant industry and its chefs, and any other topics. 

The lawyer’s letter follows below:

Dear Madam,
Our ref Your ref Date
12 December 2018
We refer to the above matter and confirm that we act for and on behalf of Peter Tempelhoff (“our client”) herein.
Our instructions are as follows:
1. On 27 November 2018, our client addressed an email to you in which he exercised his right to reserve admission at FYN Restaurant by expressing that you are not welcome to dine there.
2. Our client addressed this email to you privately as a courtesy to protect your reputation and not publicly embarrass you. Despite our client extending you this courtesy, you nonetheless copied and pasted the entirety of his email on your “Whale Tales” Blog (found at fyn-restaurant-will-not-be-good-enough-for-fine-dining/ and hereinafter referred to as “the blog post”).
3. Not only did you post our client’s private communication in the blog post, but you saw fit to do so by prefacing our client’s email with the following statement:
“The email is incoherent, and Tempelhoff contradicts himself, and one wonders what substance he may have been on when he composed it…” (emphasis added)
4. Further, you titled the blog post “Chef Peter Tempelhoff admits that new FYN Restaurant will not be good enough for fine dining!!” Our instructions are that our client has never made any such statement and that it is a spiteful fabrication of your own imagination.
5. We are instructed to advise you that our client finds the above statements (hereinafter referred to as “the defamatory statements”) to be reprehensible and defamatory in
Established 1899
directors P. Katzeff (CEO) C.D. Middlebrook L.E. Bell A.P. Ranchod B. Cotterell J.A. Williams J.J. Fourie L.S. Ward S. Heath C.J. Wiggett G.A. Meinking senior associates F.W. Visagie D. Wolhuter E. Pieterse D.F. du Plessis T.P. Hampton associates C. Conway K.E. Cameron- Dow K.W. Freitag M.B. Manning N. Stoffels C.C. Daly J.C. Newdigate M.B. Schoonraad N.N. Van Wyk-Rasi
consultants S.A. Epstein A. Schipper F.W. Muggleston M.C. Cameron-Dow
cape town (021) 487 7900 claremont (021) 674 2083 noordhoek (021) 785 5945 tygervalley (021) 914 5511
C&A Friedlander Inc. Reg No 1993/003442/21 Attorneys Notaries Conveyancers
C&A Friedlander Inc.
3rd Floor 42 Keerom Street
Cape Town 8001
PO Box 1581 Cape Town 8000
Docex 96 Cape Town
tel +2721 487 7900 fax +2721 426 5650 Conveyancing fax +2721 426 5653

nature, especiall
y in light of the current launch of FYN Restaurant and the publicity surrounding same.
6. You went further still by posting the blog post on your Twitter account (@ulmenstein) no fewer than 58 times to date (“the Twitter posts”). We record that at the time of writing your Twitter account has approximately 28,200 followers.
7. It is clear from the aforegoing that your blog post and the subsequent Twitter posts were designed to intentionally and maliciously injure our client’s good name and reputation.
8. As a result of your callous, untrue and defamatory statements, our client’s reputation in the South African culinary industry and the general public has suffered irreparable damage.
9. We are accordingly instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you remove the contents of the blog post and the Twitter posts and replace same with an unconditional apology to our client.
10. Should you fail to do so on or before close of business on 13 December 2018, we confirm that we hold instructions to approach the High Court on an urgent basis for an order compelling you to remove the blog post and the Twitter posts, the costs of which will be for your account. We will then institute further legal proceedings against you for the payment of damages to our client.
We confirm that we await your urgent confirmation that you will comply with our client’s demands herein. Our client’s rights are in the interim strictly reserved.
Yours faithfully

POSTSCRIPT 13/12: This well-worded comment was posted on my Facebook page in reaction to the link to this Blogpost, by Bradley Stephens:

’This is totally bizarre, I find it even more pathetic that there are lawyers out there who, instead of advising their client that pursing such a futile matter like this will create more damage to their client, take the liberty and send out a letter to generate fees where there is zero chance of success. I mean do me a favour high Court application they better make sure that their client is filling up the restaurant quickly because that is as good as throwing money away.
if they are trying to draw attention to the restaurant and generate publicity they have done a poor job. He should have been advised from the outset that his initial email was zero out of 10 and pure commercial suicide sent to one of the country’s most respectable bloggers and should have rather turned it around and extended a personal invitation to you and taken a calculated risk that that the evening worked out and all boxes were ticked etc…. I have no doubt you would have then given a positive review and who knows where it would have gone from there.
bizarre anyway your authenticness is refreshing and can only lend credibility to the market.
take care’

POSTSCRIPT 18/12: In settlement of an urgent application at the Cape High Court today arising out of the wording of parts of the Blogpost dated 28 November 2018, I agreed to change the title and the second paragraph of the Blogpost dated 28 November 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: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein


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