Denver restaurateur Leigh Sullivan-Guard takes Denver Post food editor Tucker Shaw to task for his "blind items" restaurant gossip column

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Denver Post food editor Tucker Shaw's column on Wednesday, full of no-name restaurant gossip, wouldn't have seemed so startling if the paper's food section regularly ran restaurant news calling out offending culprits -- but it doesn't. So we couldn't figure out the point of his mishmash of blind, unsourced items that wouldn't get past editors in other parts of the paper. And we weren't the only ones who were scratching our heads...

Several chefs and restaurateurs were equally befuddled, including Leigh Sullivan-Guard, who co-owns TAG, TAG|RAW BAR and Madison Street with her husband and executive chef, Troy Guard. In fact, Sullivan-Guard was so taken aback that she crafted a letter to Shaw, taking him to task for his "Blind taste test of questions about Denver's dining scene," in which he asks -- but doesn't answer -- everything from "Which restaurateur spends hours a day obsessing about his competition -- while his own business wanes?" to "Which food journalist appears to have invented -- er, exaggerated -- many of her credentials?"

Herewith, Sullivan-Guard's unedited letter.

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That is Funny
That is Funny

Ha i just read the article, holy shit that is a unjournalistic piece of crap that someone needed to throw out just to make deadline.  But I was right only the truly insecure would take offense to an article that is meant to create some buzz about denver whether good or bad.  And since this was resposted here i'm sure someone here is that critic.

 

That is Funny
That is Funny

Wow, where the hell way was I when this came out.   First of all I've worked for the Guards and know them personally and to what extents they hold grudges.  They are like chihuahuas; tiny and vicious, this is definately PR control.  I haven't seen the article but I guarantee someone saw something that hit a little too close to home.  I bet it made for an interesting breakfast conversation at that house, which led to a meeting between all the managers under the TAG name and they were told how they should feel about said article.  Obviously with the amount of responses to this re-post they have made a lot of enemies over the years, which isn't suprising since they did come from the Jim Sullivan School of Being an Ass to Everyone, no one in the industry or who works with the industry has any good to say about him.  Sending that letter just proves how insecure they are.  There are a ton of great restauranteurs and chefs in Denver and I bet they mostly ignored the column as fluff and made jokes about it but the Guards took it seriously. The truth hurts. 

laura
laura

"...no one in the industry found Wednesday's article remotely amusing."

I'm pretty sure amusing the industry isn't in his job description either. Let the man do his job the way he wants to do it. If it doesn't amuse you, go to Elitch's. He doesn't work for you, Leigh.

Chef Jimmy-Page
Chef Jimmy-Page

The food press is both essential and not relevant in ceratin ways. The true mission of any restaurant is to make money for it's investors like any business but because of the artitistic nature of the product and the recent celebritizing of chefs and food writers that is often ignored,  In my expeience with food and restaurant writers I admire thier dedication to food but not their understanding of the business or actually the desires os most of the customer base. Gossipy food & restaurant biz columns are really for the most part only intently read by and paid attention to by other writers and restaurant biz people. Tucker is a gifted writer. He should not stoop to the level of restaurant employee insider. Lets hear more about food wine and most important service. i would love to see a gossip column about restaurants sourced by the people who matter. The customers

Chef Jimmy-Page
Chef Jimmy-Page

Yelp doesn't count, its a rigged game. Business owners have to pay to be able to remove bad reviews and legit good ones don't post. Its a racket. Also I notice yelpers complain a lot about price price price, and are not passionate food customers. I think they should rename YELP to Bitch or Whine. Blogs like egullet fit the bill more, that kinda thing is what I meant 

Aceranchero
Aceranchero

Yeah, a lame column. I was hoping to see an end box or reference to another page for the answers. You know, like on the kids puzzle page in an airline magazine. (On long flights you read everything.) Still, in retrospect, are there not 4-6 chef's names that would be interchangeable to most questions? 

Captain Beefheart
Captain Beefheart

 The funny thing is, if this new column had appeared in Westword, nobody would've noticed...or cared...or given a damn. 

Jessehall
Jessehall

Says the guy who is commented on a westword blog post. Hmm

Mantonat
Mantonat

Really? 5 comments on Denver Post's website after 3 days, but already over three times that many once it gets re-posted here (with a little catalyzing agent from Leigh Sullivan-Guard). Looks like maybe Tucker should get a job with Westword if he wants more traffic.

Cherreturns
Cherreturns

I liked Tucker's piece and found it amusing. The DP food section is usually pretty ho-hum, so I thought it was a good move on his part to get people a little riled up. I bet more people will read it now.  

C Boland
C Boland

Leigh Sullivan-Guard is obnoxious and I've been treated like crap by the front of the house the last two times I have been to TAG. Maybe she should spend more time working on that then writing letters like this.

Heather H.
Heather H.

i think mrs guard has the female version of a small penis, which gives her lack the security to write this letter and make her assume half of mr. shaws questions were directed to her. or, maybe they WERE directed to her and her husband's restaurant(s) and she pissed off that she has nothing better to do than write a letter and whine instead of focusing on what's important.

i have never worked in the restaurant business and probably never will, but i do support them frequently, and appreciate and recognize the hard work. i have observed the successful restaurants, and any successful business for that matter, and none of them "bitch" about what people are saying about them. they learn from the criticism, good or bad, and move on. move on mrs. guard!

Susie
Susie

But behind that small penis is a set of BIG BALLS.  You should probably work in a restaurant then maybe your comment would be relevant, but I doubt it.

SanguinePenguin
SanguinePenguin

 While I don't agree with the "Penis" comment, no reason to go there, I too suspect Leigh's reaction. Anyone in the industry would know that while Leigh grew up under Jim Sullivan, aka Ocean and Nine75, she is more PR than restaurant. She's a shark among fish and quite clever and yet her letter was more defensive than a rallying cry for the servers, barkeeps and chefs. In the PR world that might be looked at as damage control, indirect as it may have been. I've been in the industry for more years than I care to mention we all know Troy has had a golden parachute and kudos to him for managing that. The reality is that Leigh wrote that letter because one COULD have used their restaurants for the answer to many of Tucker's questions. I believe Leigh knows it and got pissed. I think Leigh wrote a better article than Tucker's waste of space and I liked her shout-outs to Yasmin and the COBG. However, one might even have noticed the PR machine at work when she ever so cleverly told us something else Troy has done. 

GFTW
GFTW

Gross. Big BOOBS are much better.

Sunny
Sunny

Are you talking about her husband with the Neopolian complex?

Sunnyisadummy
Sunnyisadummy

I think Sunny meant neapolitan complex.  Mmmm, me loves the choc-van-straw.... 

SanguinePenguin
SanguinePenguin

I believe it is more of a, "Narcissistic Personality Disorder." Continental Social food, my ass! Would have been better to call it, "Food or stuff that I like to cook."

GFTW
GFTW

I'm interested in seeing the answers to Tucker's questions. I like the q & a's in her letter, but Leigh Sullivan-Guard seems to have a thin skin, like so many women with hyphenated patronyms.

Dishpr
Dishpr

don't be mean if you don't know leigh sullivan-guard. where does that put ruth bader-ginsberg and sandra day-o'conner? i would argue that women who keep their surnames have the thickest skin of all! 

GFTW
GFTW

Ruth is a terrible justice, and Sandra was mediocre. Point is, hyphenated names are silly -- they're still just patronyms, and ultimately ridiculous as their kids and kids' kids will find out.

Francisbuxton
Francisbuxton

I thought the piece was quite amusing. Everybody in this country is so frickin' sensitive.  If you are in the restaurant business, you need to be thick skinned like a walrus.  Everything is so darned PC these days and everybody's feelings get so hurt,  Boo Hoo.  He was just having fun with that write and crying about it is the reason why Denver can't stand up to New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. Denver's moving forward so don't digress by being so sensitive.  We all know how hard restaurant industry people work.

thefupmaster
thefupmaster

Sullivan-Guard isn't voicing her concerns because some of the comments could have come close to home. Any one who has worked with or for her knows that she seeks out her guest's genuine opinions and uses them to improve the overall experience. She wrote the open letter in defense of the industry which Shaw decided to, similar to an elementary school child, bully.

Outtoeat
Outtoeat

Wow... sounds like perhaps Tucker's comments were a little too close to home for Mrs. Sullivan-Guard!  Now I'm dying to know the answers and will have all my friends go and read the article that Shaw wrote!  I thought that the article was great fun to read and of course won't dissuade me from going to my favorite places to eat, however, I might be inclined to avoid TAG and Maddison Street... would hate to run into that woman there... she seems a bit bitter!  Keep up the good work Tucker! 

NumberThree
NumberThree

This is awesome. I was so pissed off after reading the "column" in the Post and I am glad someone has said something. The only reason I can think that they would even print this is that they were all hanging out after hours and 3 to many shots of tequila and they printed it on a dare. It's not Festivus yet! The airing of grievances doesn't happen till December.

Dishpr
Dishpr

 i admit, i found the DP piece bizarre and wrote to tucker saying that i felt it was "mean." that said, tucker is a smart man who always has a method to his madness, so i think his reasoning will be made clear to us shortly. i do trust the man! kate lacroix, d i s h publicity.

offdisc
offdisc

I, too, agree that Mr Shaw's commentary was a waste of time, but not for the same reasons as Mrs. Guard's. The commentary wasn't so mean-spirited as it was puzzling... so much good gossip, but without answers, it was just bluster. Either call out the offenders so we, the readers, know what to watch for, or just keep it to yourself. The only way such a column could be helpful is if the offenders read it themselves, and were able to recognize themselves in it.I believe Mrs. Guard falls into the latter category, by the way. A few questions pointed towards the TAG group. I question why Mrs. Guard thinks such a column was OK in 2001, but not in 2011. Does she expect Mr. Shaw to only write glowing reviews from now on, so as not to cast a negative eye on Denver's scene? Her little posed piece is just fluff, mostly for people directly connected to TAG (although nice shout-out to the Duo/Olivea crew). This world needs a little more satire and finger-pointing, and not as much fluff and apologizing. A critic's job is to critique -- good and bad; if Mr. Shaw could provide the answers to those questions, his critique would be fully effective. Instead the readers are left with pure guesses and conjecture... and that doesn't help anyone.

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

Good comment, but for the record, Tucker Shaw is no longer the Denver Post restaurant critic (and hasn't been in quite a while). That distinction goes to Bill Porter.

offdisc
offdisc

Yes, that's true, he stepped aside 2 (?) years ago. But he still writes a lot about the Denver dining scene.  Once a critic, always a critic.

Shoebox
Shoebox

While Gaurd's letter and comments on restaurant gossip is accurate, Westword has engaged in similar activity in the past..... Westword hopefully will continue a practice of not publishing unfounded items, too. We love Westword (and Tucker Shaw) and I for one hope that this discussion helps keep our great city's food writers and editors on target - discussing food, wine, mixology and all the beautiful acivities we dedicate our entire lives to.

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