Valenti’s: How the Story Has Changed (UPDATE & BUMP)


UPDATE & BUMP: Terry Valenti called the Shredd & Ragan show on 103.3-FM the Edge, and the recording of that conversation will be played on air around 7:45am on Thursday the 19th. I’ll be on the phone with them right afterwards.

It’s become the Valenti’s Restaurant Massacree. Arlo Guthrie could do a 30 minute monologue about it in talking blues style, if there was an underlying anti-war theme to be had.

If you missed it, I spoke with Shredd and Ragan from WEDG 103.3-FM on Tuesday morning to talk about Janice Okun, restaurant reviews, the Buffalo News, Valenti’s, and how all of it ties in together. The audio of the full interview is here.

For those of you who are checking this out to find out more, here is the compendium of Valenti’s posts so far:

1. “Two and a Half WTFs” is the original post from December 19th, now boasting over 650 comments, which have caused a very sordid and criminal tale to unfold about the purported owner(s) of Valenti’s, including a “secret” third partner, allegations of restraining orders, fraud, check kiting, violations of law and statute, battery, and a place that is apparently poorly run by some allegedly shady characters.  It was here that we first learned that Valenti never appeared on Iron Chef, never worked at Mamma Leone’s, and never attended, much less graduated from, the Culinary Institute of America – a claim that I uncovered from a Florida publication.

2. “Valenti’s Coda“, also from December 19th and headlined far too soon, pokes fun at the Buffalo News’ hasty and clumsy correction of Janice Okun’s original review of Valenti’s, which contained the false statements about Iron Chef battle parsnips. Andrew Galarneau, the Buffalo News’ food editor, assured me on Facebook that my Artvoice posts and comments at the Buffalo News’ own site played absolutely no part in the non-transparent corrections process, and that Jeff Levine from the CIA contacted him about Mr. Valenti’s claim to be a graduate of that institution, although that never appeared in Ms. Okun’s review.

3. “Valenti’s: Still Going” is a January 9th piece referencing MetroWNY’s work speaking to the producers of Iron Chef to verify that Valenti never appeared on that program.

4. “How Not to Run a Business” links to a Tonawanda News article that first uncovered Mr. Valenti’s landlord/tenant dispute with Frank Budwey, and references a Chowhound thread about the matter.

All of the foregoing articles served as a sort of informal assignment editor for this Buffalo News piece that appeared on Saturday.

So far today, I’ve learned more about the third partner, I’ve learned that there is no hearing scheduled yet on any eviction proceeding, that Mr. Budwey is out of the country at the moment, and I found out some other details I’m not at liberty to discuss at this time.

But suffice it to say that this has swiftly turned from a criticism of a poorly researched restaurant review, into civil eviction litigation, and now into bona fide criminal reporting.  We’ve turned a corner into hoping that these two people can no longer victimize another unsuspecting, naively trusting ambitious person.


  • This story is FAR from being over, lot’s of things unfolding behind the scenes, some which isn’t public knowledge. YET

  • Thank you Allen for another great article exposing the Valenti’s. I applaud your diligence and investigative work in making the people of North Tonawanda aware of work type of people they having working in their community. I hope in the end these two get their just desserts and pay for all the wrong they have done to so many innocent people. Keep up the good work and please keep us posted as to the final out come to this nightmare.

  • We need to keep the comments here, it takes FOREVER to scroll on my tablet through the other thread. LOL

  • @Karma – If you click on the >> to the right of “Comments” at the beginning of the thread, it will take you to the end. Had the same problem on my iPad and found it by accident two days ago (thank goodness …. would have carpal tunnel by the time this over).

  • Thanks, I never noticed that.

  • Can someone put a link to the radio interview on the Chowhound site, Trish was asking for it

  • In defence of Ms. Okun: While you have done an outstanding piece of investigative journalism on this subject I have to say that I woul not expect a restaurant reviewer such as Ms. Okun to do other than simply visit the reviewed restaurant, sample the food, the service and the decorum, perhaps quote any interesting information she recieved from the owner, operator and staff concerning the food, service and decorum…and rate the place. I would not expect investigative reporting of this kind from a restaurant review.

    By the way Mr. Bedenko, how is the food at this place? I don’t believe I have seen your review.

  • Thanks for all your hard work. Too many people have been hurt throughout the years, and its about time that some light is finally being put on the actions of these two.

  • These people are do deep in trouble they will be in jail a long time when this is done. THAT is provided they do not RUN from legal problems like they have in Florida and Texas. They are cowards. They do the crime and leave everyoen in misery and dispare and then flea states away leaving warrants everywhere.

    They should just be locked up with their current charges awaiting bail giving the police time to finish their investigations on them… THEN they will have to pay for their illegal activity.

  • Friend of a "Friend"

    Re: In defense of Ms. Okun – in reality, had Ms. Okun actually “dialed up” Wikipedia and did even 5 minutes of fact checking this whole fire storm wouldn’t have happened. There would have been another little blurb about another little red sauce joint with VERY comfortable booths in a little town… possibly with the mention of a “Chef with a strong sense of self-worth”.

    Perhaps, even, while close to “The Google” she may have done a tiny bit of background checking on the owners and decide to not turn in that article after all…

    So THANKS Ms. Okun- without you NONE of this would have come to light like it did and I would have been MUCH more productive at work over the last week.

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