Ani be­lieves Wood’s crit­i­cism was “per­sonal” fol­low­ing ear­lier clash be­tween pair

Caterer Middle East - - Contents -

Izu Ani bans Food­iva blogger from his res­tau­rant; News from around the GCC; Gor­don Ram­say’s Hell’s Kitchen to open in Dubai; JRG Dubai to open two new con­cepts at Dubai Hills Golf Club.

Fol­low­ing a neg­a­tive re­view of Izu Ani’s re­cently opened GAIA res­tau­rant at DIFC, the chef has banned Food­iva blogger Sa­man­tha Wood, telling Caterer Mid­dle East that the rea­son for the neg­a­tiv­ity was “per­sonal”.

The ar­ti­cle, writ­ten by guest re­viewer Matt Brod­er­ick, but com­mis­sioned by and pub­lished by Wood on her Food­iva web­site, de­scribes an evening at GAIA which Wood de­scribes in an In­sta­gram com­ment as “Fawlty-es­que” in ref­er­ence to Bri­tish sit­com Fawlty Tow­ers about a shod­dily run ho­tel.

Ani re­sponded: “The peo­ple that mat­ter, they love it. And the peo­ple that don’t mat­ter, like her… I’ve banned her from set­ting foot any­where near here.

“I have noth­ing against any­body, I want peo­ple to do what they have to do and do it well. If I do well why are you be­grudg­ing me what I’m do­ing? I’ve worked two years on this project. What have you done? You want free­bies ev­ery­where. You want peo­ple to pay you. I don’t pay you for ar­ti­cles. If you like what I do you like it, if you per­son­ally don’t that’s fine. But don’t start say­ing ‘oh he didn’t do a soft open­ing’. What’s that got to do with you? That’s what I hate.”

Wood is a prom­i­nent fig­ure of the UAE re­view­ing scene, and Ani said they pre­vi­ously clashed when Wood de­manded thou­sands of dirhams to in­clude Carine in her ‘Dine Around Dubai’ ex­pe­ri­ence that sees cus­tomers pay to be taken to mys­tery restau­rants.

Ani said he re­fused the of­fer, then re­fused to pro­vide free food, and ul­ti­mately told her “I don’t want you to come” even when she of­fered to pay.

“Now she writes this ar­ti­cle,” said Ani. “This ar­ti­cle is per­sonal, it isn’t an ob­jec­tive ar­ti­cle. I like ob­jec­tive ar­ti­cles, for peo­ple to have an opin­ion but not to have mal­ice. GAIA has been re­ceived fan­tas­ti­cally by a lot of peo­ple and for some­body to want to make a name be­hind it… it’s not nice.”

It’s not the first clash be­tween restau­ra­teur and food blogger in Dubai re­cently, with Samer Ha­madeh pre­vi­ously say­ing how a blogger had threat­ened his Ak­iba Dori res­tau­rant with bad reviews un­less they were al­lowed to dine with a num­ber of their friends for free on a Fri­day night.

Wood re­sponded to the al­le­ga­tions by de­fend­ing her im­par­tial­ity and say­ing the re­view “was an hon­est por­trayal of the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence” and ac­cus­ing Ani of mak­ing “fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect state­ments”.

Izu Ani at his new res­tau­rant GAIA

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