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Posts Tagged ‘Todd Kliman’

An Inside Look at the Chef Geoff Gulag

With several restaurants in the D.C. area, Chef Geoff Tracy is a recognizable name. Almost as recognizable as his wife, CBS White House Correspondent Norah O’Donnell. Washingtonian magazine’s Todd Kliman did a lengthy profile on Tracy to detail the unimaginable hoops he makes his staff jump through to maintain their status as the best not-quite-fine-dining-but-passable-food restaurant.

The empire is run with a series of 800 standards to keep their quality at a consistent level. 800?!?! Is this a restaurant or a prison? Just what ARE some of these standards? Kliman was given all access to the daily operations and, while some of these standards make sense, some are a little kooky. For example, if a candle at a table goes out, it MUST be re-lit within two minutes. Anyone want to travel to the different restaurants and test that standard with me over and over and over again?

Kliman also focuses on the constant struggle to maintain life in the restaurant business and a family. (Tracy and O’Donnell have three children.) Tracy and O’Donnell have a “storybook” life. Beautiful children, wealth, a giant home. Some of the documenting of their love story is so syrupy sweet, it makes me retch. One story says, “The couple has been spotted working out at the gym together, holding hands between sit-ups.” We are told that, “Many nights, Tracy can be found not in one of his kitchens but by O’Donnell’s side at a prestigious gala or dinner party. One of Washington’s A-list couples, the duo is in high demand from September to May.” They are, by the way, a restaurant owner and a TV reporter. Not politicians or royalty. What Kliman DOESN’T mention is that things can’t be THAT rosy in the household. As image management goes, this piece gets an A+ and Kliman probably gets free calamari for life. But with O’Donnell is set to leave for NYC to start work on CBS’s morning show, and Geoff on the verge of opening another restaurant in Rockville next month and five more by 2020, it comes off as a little too good to be 100 percent true. Among the grossest sentences: “‘Empire’ sounds like a grandiose word for a guy as unassuming as Tracy, but he says volume has always been a core component of his vision.”

The entire piece is filled with fascinating, weird details of how Tracy has built his local empire and it’s worth a read. If nothing else, it will make you feel inadequate. If this thing is all true, Chef Geoff is better looking, more organized, has a hotter spouse, and has a better overall quality of life than anyone on the planet.

And as the piece says, he’s STILL pinching himself.

Right, and so are we. Blech!

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Washingtonian Takes the High Road

Washingtonian has posted their February cover. The lead story explores “Washington’s Secret Love Affair with Marijuana.” It examines the prevalence of reefer throughout the region. And apparently, it isn’t just for breakfast anymore. Washingtonian says that it’s a large part of life for “soccer moms and power players.” Why stop at soccer moms and power players? Maybe it’s infiltrated the newsrooms of Washington, D.C. It would certainly help explain some of the decisions that are made at

Also in this month’s issue, Todd Kliman offers tips on dining out with kids and of course Harry Jaffe will have a poorly thought out advice column with his wife piece on the 108 murders that happened in DC last year. The mag hits stands tomorrow if you want to snag one.

Grab a slurpee and a microwave burrito while you’re at it. In case you get the munchies.

Washingtonian‘s Whine Writer Needs a Muscle Relaxer

We didn’t realize SNL’s Doug and Wendy Whiner had Washington relatives. But we’ve found one in Todd Kliman, Washingtonian‘s food and whine editor and restaurant critic who hosts a weekly Tuesday 11 a.m. chat.

During this week’s chat all we wanted to learn was where we could get three star cuisine at one star prices, as promised. But Kliman was busy complaining about his back. Would Kliman like some whine with his back pain?

We would privately sympathize with him. But why do we care about his back pain when we’re talking food and a potential incredible meal for peanuts?

“Good morning, everyone. Before we get too far into things … You usually come to me with the questions — today I’m coming to you with one: I threw out my back on Sunday, and am sort of cramped over typing this today. It’s not fun. Anyone have any suggestions for me?” Kliman asked readers. He annoyingly continued, “Any specific stretching exercises? A massage specialist or chiropractor you think is excellent? Over-the-counter drugs that provide some relief?” More…“It’s not that it’s painful so much as that I can’t fully extend, and so walking is a chore, and then of course everything else suffers because I’m sort of hunched as I go …Whatever you’ve got for me, I’d appreciate.”

Yes, and what we’d appreciate is to have that online food chat the magazine promised. Hey Editor Garrett Graff, here’s an idea: Spring for muscle relaxers so we can proceed with the food chat?

Most readers ignored Kliman’s request to find a solution to his back pain, but a few humored him. NoLo, DC: What, the Washingtonian doesn’t provide medical insurance?! Or is there some other excuse for suffering with your back for two days without plans to see a doctor?

Todd Kliman: To me, a doctor is always a last resort. For everything. I also never take a pill if I can help it. Now, if I hadn’t seen improvement since Sunday, then I’d probably start thinking today about making a call. Not making a call, but thinking about making a call. But I’m definitely better than I was.

(There’s a great message to Washingtonian readers: Avoid doctors.)

Silver Spring: I found the article below anti-inflammatory for over-the-counter med but you may want to make an appointment with your physician to have a prescription for muscle relaxant. [Read here.]

Our favorite came from a reader who wasn’t afraid to tell Kliman how “messed up” he is.

Arlington, VA: To your question: Find a Chiropractor. Massage is good when you aren’t completely messed up already but it sounds like you are. You need two things 1) Electro-stimulation which will help to release the muscles; and 2) adjustment to put you back in line. When I really screwed up my back a few years ago, it was the only thing that worked. I was a skeptic to start but the immediate relief from the electro-stym and the fact that the before and after x-rays showed that my spine was back where it belonged (and the long term relief it provided) totally changed my mind.


City Paper’s Worst Food Writing Awards

The Post’s Joe Yonan and Tom Sietsema, The Washington Times’ Corinna Lothar, the New York Times’ Marian Burros, Washingtonian’s Todd Kliman and DCist’s Rawn James Jr. all get “honored” by the City Paper.

Kliman Weighs In

The Washingtonian’s Todd Kliman discusses the latest brouhaha involving him and the “Don’t Believe The Washingtonian” campaign underway.

From here:


    Todd, Any comment on Roberto Donna’s launching a blog in response to your review of his restaurant or the criticisms he seems to be levyying at you?

    Todd Kliman:

    For those who may not have been following along:

    There have been two incidents in the past month, here and in New York, where chefs have responded to valid criticism by starting blogs or waging campaigns against magazines or reviewers.

    Criticism is valid. It matters. It documents the way we live. It’s intellectually honest.

    Without good, serious-minded, candid criticism to uphold high standards, a scene doesn’t improve. Without that kind of criticism, there is no vibrancy.

    Critics don’t simply sit around in a room and make judgments about who to like and who not to like. There’s a process, a gathering of many dozens of details — the same for writing about restaurants as about books and film and theater and art, etc. In restaurant reviewing, the critic makes not one but several visits to a place (usually a minimum of three visits, sometimes as many as four or five) before writing a long review– on different days, at different meals, with different people — to assess an experience more accurately.

    If there are minor inaccuracies that need to be corrected — and inaccuracies do crop up, as in any creative endeavor — they will be corrected. A review isn’t a tombstone; a place can improve, and sometimes does. But done right, that review is an honest document of the dining experience.