Open Mouth insert Anti-Gluten Free Comment Here

Or (As a restaurant owner a prime example of why you should be monitoring your brand)

I became aware of this a few days ago when I saw a tweet posted by a B&B twitter friend of mine linking to an article about “Chef Damian Cardone Brags About Feeding Gluten-free Patrons High Gluten Pasta“.

It’s been trending the Gluten Free forums for the last couple of days and apparently has been picked up by some major news outlets already.

Lets address Damian first, and from the prospective of a potential employer.

Meandering over to his Facebook profile (which has now been offline for a few days) his entire wall including photos was public. If you are going to talk about dissing people’s legitimate food allergies, this is probably not the best place to do this, especially if your profile IS public.

While the profile itself may be gone. Screen shots and Google are forever. At last look he was apparently in New Jersey, and from what I gather, he may be staying there, as I kind of doubt he’ll be welcomed back to working at any of the restaurants locally in Colorado any time soon.

As a potential employer and someone who assists with hiring in restaurants through my consulting practice, I DO Google potential employee names. The odds of getting hired at this point by anyone is pretty slim, unless the employer is completely internet illiterate.

A brief search of his name comes up with multiple pages referencing the gluten free comments on both celiac and gluten-free forums and blogs, as well as by news outlets, as well as on twitter and Facebook.

Not to mention as a potential employer, a screen shot of his Facebook profile reveals this as his bio:

Damian J. Cardone has apprienticed under Swiss, Master Chef Kurt Wigger. Damian was the Executive Chef at the Sopris Chalet, Restaurant, Aspen, Co. Executive Banquet Chef at the Tavern on the Green N.Y.C. After apprienticing under Master Chef Kurt Wigger, Switzerland. Whom, was the last person to study under Du Franze, who was the last person on earth to study under Georges Agustus Esscoffier. Spending time between Aspen and NYC. In 05 and 06, Damian upheld the position as the wedding/banquet Chef at the Tavern on the Green. Has apeared on Regis and Kelli, Project Runway, numerous P.B.S. segments. Personally cooked for Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Tom Hanks, Segourney Weaver, and George Clooney. Currently resides in Glenwood Springs Colorado as a private chef for hire, and learning how to make tacos.

I am not even going to go into trying to prove whether this guy actually worked at some of these places, (apparently some others are on the trail already on that one) but A. spellcheck? And B. poor Escoffier is probably rolling in his grave right now, amongst other things.

Calling this fellow a chef, by the way, is an insult to the profession. Gluten allergies, or any type of food allergy is nothing to make fun of, let alone ignore. Ignorance of the fact that people suffering from Gluten allergies don’t immediately have an allergic reaction, is no excuse. As a former Executive Chef, I was appalled when I saw this. The vast majority of cooks and chefs do not take allergies lightly, and to see a comment like this by someone with supposed experience in the industry reflects badly on us as a whole.

I do find it interesting (but not relevant) that the photo he used with the gluten free rant was apparently snitched from a food photographers site. It’s got her watermark on it and is now all over the web tagged with the gluten free issue.

While Damian is getting some really interesting air time online, how about the restaurant he was working at?

It was a place called Florindo’s, where he was working as a part time waiter, according to the Post Independent:

http://www.postindependent.com/article/20110331/VALLEYNEWS/110339996.

According to Heather McGregor, the author of the article, who I spoke with this morning, Damian apparently only worked at Florindo’s briefly and not as a cook but as a waiter. The photo that was posted on Facebook with Damian in Chefs whites, was apparently prior to his employment at Florindo’s. (the photo is dated January 16th, 2011) Which raises the question, where was he working at the time? Sopris Restaurant? Or some as yet unnamed restaurant in Glenwood Springs?

In a quote from the Post article:

“It’s mind blowing what’s happening today. I must have had a couple of hundred calls today, all asking for Damian,” Gallicchio said, and then broke away from a phone interview to answer a call from a caller in Chicago. “I do not have time to be on the Internet, so I have no way to answer back to these people.”

Unfortunately for Chef Gallicchio, people have already hit review sites with not very nice comments referencing his restaurant and the gluten free fiasco.

While the Chef says he does not have the time, if he values his restaurant’s reputation, he needs to make the time, or hire someone, or have a member of his management staff, take the time to respond to each and every review out there if they can.

These reviews, especially by Yelp and Tripadvisor will not be removed, but they can be responded to and they will be around forever, as well as numerous posts on the Gluten-free forums and Blogs.  Many of the blog posts reference his restaurant, and because Florindo’s does not have a website, a Google search of Florindo’s turns up review sites right off, as well as links to social media and blogs referencing the gluten free issue.

Aside from the Post article, this is the only response I have seen online to this issue so far http://www.krextv.com/news/around-the-region/Owner-of-Florindos-Speaks-Out-119026954.html and http://www.9news.com/rss/article/190588/222/Chefs-gluten-free-secret-posted-online-causes-uproar-

The text a bit clearer for those that can’t read the text clearly from Damian’s rant on Facebook clearly in the reposts on the Gluten-free and Celiac sites.

Gluten free is bullshit!! Flour and bread have been a staple of life for thousands, THOUSANDS of years. People who claim to be gluten intolorent dont realize that its all in there disturbed liitle heads. People ask me for gluten free pasta in my restaurant all the time, I tell em sure, Then I serve serve em our pasta, Which I make from scratch with high gluten flour. And you know what? nothing, NOTHING! ever happens! People leave talking about how good they feel gluten free and guess what, They just had a full dose! Idiots!

~From March 10th, 2011

And from the related comments

Damian Cardone Ok Dr. Cardone, I know theres a few people who might have real disorder, Im just saying the majority of of these people are jumping on the band wagon because its now the popular fad diet.

~March 10 at 11:30am

Damian Cardone Yes, people beware, when you eat out at restaurants, chefs love to use people as experimental research test subjects

~March 10 at 11:37am

And

From February 10, 2011

Valentines Day Weekend. Let us pray, Oh Lord, Please grant me the serenity, strength, and wisdom to make it through the next couple days at work in my restaurant. For on this, the Mother F#$KER of all Weekends. Lord, please give me the strength to refrain from opening my big mouth and saying something I know im going to regret to somebody. To fight the need to dump bowl of hot soup on my bosses head. Let us pray for the dueche bag whose to cheap to buy his girlfriend a cocktail but wants a lemon wedge for his water. For the pain in the ass who wants a side of spagetti with her f&%king risotto. Let us not forget the redneck who shows up at a fine dinning establishment in a Hooters T-shirt and a baseball cap. Or, the other redneck, Wouldnt doubt if there related, Whos going to forget to make a reservation, complain it took to long to get a table and then is going to order a Well Done steak. May god help the Liberal hippie idiot whos going to ask for gluten free pasta this weekend. And last, Let us not forget to pray for sweet elderly couple, whom, although even married for the past fourty some years, Still want seperate checks. Oh Lord, Please get me through this but yet one more year.

Exec. Chef. Damian J Cardone

~From February 10, 2011

Related posts:

And that in a nutshell is two great examples of be careful what you post on social media and as restaurant, the importance of monitoring your brand.

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7 Responses to Open Mouth insert Anti-Gluten Free Comment Here

  1. Seems a shame if Cardone isn’t actually a chef at the restaurant that’s getting all the flak for his stupidity. I see the March TripAdvisor reviewer doesn’t even make any attempt to claim they ate there – just slagging the place off because of these Internet rumours.

    Separate but related issue – we had a vegan stay here a while back who said it was okay for her to eat croissants because French croissants contained no butter. I could not persuade her otherwise. I gave in and served her croissants. Should I have witheld croissants to protect her against her misguided beliefs?

    • Chef Forfeng says:

      That’s actually pretty hilarious. Vegans are an eating choice, very occasional but extremely rarely dictated by allergies. I have a relative who says they are strict vegetarians but occasionally a chicken or steak is ok. I doubt the food gods will be angry with you as you did try to warn her.

  2. Shane Ede says:

    Well, there is also the possibility that Cardone merely put on the chefs whites and had someone take the picture. I did look very carefully at the pictures though, and the picture was taken in the kitchen at Florindos. Doesn’t mean he was a chef there, though.

  3. Lara says:

    Wow, great story Heather. There are all kinds of “wrong” with Cardone. Hope his latest employer can recoup its reputation and just get online already, jeez. The internets are not going away…

  4. Shane Ede says:

    Just to clarify, I’m the one that determined that he had been working at Florindos. There was a picture on his facebook profile of him in a kitchen. Upon comparing the background of that picture to another picture that he had labeled as being a family party at Florindos that also showed the background of the kitchen, it was obviously taken in the same kitchen. So, he did at one point wear chef’s whites in the kitchen of Florindos. Whether it was for a photo op or not is another thing.

    • Chef Forfeng says:

      I observed that as well, I did not take screen shots of the gatherings in the kitchen, just the one while he was dressed in whites, so without being able to compare them except by memory I did not want to make that direct assumption, as well as by saying that it would contradict what the owner is saying. I am not going to touch that one with a ten foot pole.

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