How Not to Run a Business

No surprise, the owners of Valenti’s are embroiled in a bitter landlord/tenant dispute with Budwey’s.  No surprise, it’s over unpaid rent and whether the rent is triple net or not.

The saga of the Iron Chef has reached Lifetime Movie of the Week proportions. It’s also fodder for discussion on Chowhound.

A 3 1/2 Okun Review

Janice Okun dined at the somewhat newly reconstituted Rue Franklin, and reviews it here. For the second time in as many weeks, she did not give a half-star. This is a peculiar change from the norm.

What we do learn from her review of this venerable French restaurant is the following:

1. Her dessert was “nonthreatening”. That seems to be the underlying theme for most Okun reviews; one might describe it as, “almost totally subliminal”.

2. Lighting is important to a restaurant’s ambiance. Who knew?

3. The portions were to her liking; i.e., large.

4. Although this is a French place with traditional French dishes such as seared foie gras, Ragôut of veal sweetbreads with white wine, mushrooms, tomato and tarragon, poule au pot, and a braised short rib specialty of Gascony, she ordered two benign salmon dishes.

5. As usual, there is less information about dishes’ flavor than there is about ambiance, lighting, and the fact that Okun knows the waiter’s name.

As such, I give this review three and a half okuns. In keeping with the Gusto’s restaurant reviews, I will give no background on how the okuns are awarded.

Valenti's: Still Going

Way back in mid-December, I wrote two posts smacking the Buffalo News and its restaurant reviewer, Janice Okun, for regurgitating untrue claims made by a couple running a red sauce joint in North Tonawanda. The first post is here, the second is here.

The original post is now up to 140+ comments, many of which detail various legal problems and outright lies told by these restaurateurs. It has since drawn the attention of the Metro papers, here.

After contacting the Food Network, and the production company in charge of producing the show Iron Chef, Triage Entertainment, Inc., both companies indicated having no record of Valenti appearing on the show.

“We have a master list that shows every competitor that has appeared on the show,” said Courtney Mattox administrative assistant at Triage. “There is the possibility that his name slipped through the cracks but we keep pretty good records.”

After trying to contact Valenti to provide him the opportunity to prove otherwise, Metro was only able to contact his wife, Lori, who stated “I will not comment on this matter, I will have Terry call you back.”

Terry never called back.

Brian Kahle of Magic Marketing, provided a press release to The Source regarding the restaurant grand opening, which took place Monday, Nov. 14, which read:

“Executive Chef and co-owner, Terry Valenti, is a guy who took-on and defeated celebrity chef Bobby Flay during a 2003 episode of TV’s popular ‘Iron Chef.’ When challenged to come up with four great dishes using parsnips, of all things, Terry produced four exquisite offerings, including his Chilean Sea Bass, stuffed with parsnips and artichoke hearts”. His creative dessert choice was a Mango Parsnips Ice Cream, which the judges also loved.”

The funniest thing I saw, however, was this article from Brevard County Florida, outlining Valenti’s elaborate claims about being a CIA graduate, and such a valuable asset to the then-defunct Mamma Leone’s restaurant in Manhattan that the owner “cried” when he resigned.

Click to enlarge

I’ve never seen such a wide and deep volume of utter nonsense just to puff some nondescript restaurant and a nobody chef, and none of it is necessary to run a decent Italian food joint. Interesting what a simple vetting of an Okun review might reveal.

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