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