Skepticism about Eater Chicago's launch
On Feast, Carly Fisher also interviewed Ari Bendersky, the Chicago editor.
Bendersky's reply: "No. Chicago has such a tight knit community of chefs, restaurant owners, mixologists, and even media—suffice to say, I don't think Deathwatch will be around."
Yes, Chicago's chefs and "even media" are indeed involved in a close, incestuous cess pool "community," with which Bendersky—as the founder and a partner in Foodie, a website and smartphone app that provides specials and discounts to diners at a cadre of well-regarded restaurants—likely has his fair share of familiarity. And though I guess I should be grateful that he and Fisher both concede the existence of said "community," I'm a bit skeptical of the notion that Chicago can't—for whatever reason—handle the features that are fundamental characteristics of Eater NY's persona. On the one hand, of course Eater should consider the different landscapes of the cities it's launching in and adapt appropriately. On the other hand, I find it dissappointing that Eater feels it has to shed some of its edge to do so. Even with the emergence of Feast and Tasting Table last year, I'm still excited about having more writers playing around in the Chicago food sandbox. But could we at least avail ourselves of different toys?
Meanwhile, on Twitter, fellow food writer Michael Nagrant has taken Bendersky's situation in the Chicago food community a step further, suggesting that his dual position as part of Foodie—a company that promotes restaurants—and Eater—a blog that is supposed to be impartial to those same restaurants—necessitates that Bendersky "sell his share of Foodie or step down as Eater Chicago editor." For his part, Bendersky told Feast that he would be taking a "step back from the day-to-day operations of Foodie because there is that obvious conflict."
Whether Eater planned it or not, the shitshow is on.