Matt McCallister Ate a Yelper for Breakfast

Categories: Whimsy

MMcCallister.jpg
Poor, poor Tina. With just nine Yelp reviews under her belt she decided to report on her experience at Campo Modern Country Bistro. She wasn't fond of her meal, awarding the experience a single star.

Tina "really wanted to like" Campo but was upset that her chicken came with a bone in it (it's an animal) and wanted to substitute more boneless chicken for the oxtail that adorned a pasta dish. Her tart tasted like feet and she wasn't happy with her service at all, noting her waiter was a pretentious douche.

McCallister took the Yelp review in stride on his Facebook page.

To Tina of Dallas... this is the best yelp review of Campo I have seen yet. In fact I am going to frame it. You can see below. Just a few comments, since you didn't want to eat chicken on the bone that is all natural and locally raised and also complained about the price which you thought was $24 when it is actually $17... I will bring in some commodity bullshit chicken farm raised BONELESS SKINLESS bullshit for you. Oh and also since I am so pretentious and didn't want to take the OXTAIL SUGO out of the oxtail pasta.. which by the way makes up the whole sauce base for the pasta to sub it out for the chopped up bone in chicken that you didn't want earlier... I am sorry I just don't believe in ruining food... Oh also Tina of Dallas.. I am opening a restaurant in the Design District.. PLEASE don't come to it..I don't want to disappoint you again.. A place like Del Friscos Grille might suit you better..or maybe even Burger King.. I hear they say you can have it your way but I don't eat that shit

McCallister's not shy about responding to feedback from his customers. In our "Chefs Mouth Off " feature, he pilloried a customer for complaining about a duck dish because there wasn't enough mallard on her plate.

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114 comments
nostromo1
nostromo1

here's the bottom-line: a chef/owner does not tell a disgruntled customer to fuck off in a public forum even if said customer was unreasonable in their observations. MOST sophisticated Dallas diners are never going to take the written word of one (1) Yelper as gospel without having dined at a particular venue independently.

AJB
AJB

Matt, you could not spell professionalism if it hit you. You might have every right to disagree and get p..... off by the comments you get but it is part of the business. So chill out and move on.You cannot win them all and further more,do not think ever that you are THAT hot because there is and always will be somebody out there who knows something you do not and probably is better than you'll ever be. If you truly believe you are that hot, then let your food do the talking. Being full of pep is ok but being disrespectful and insulting is not. I recently had dinner at Campo andonly one out of the three dishes I had was ok so remember this: bragging is ok ONLY of you can back it up and so far it has only be noise and not much to remember about the experience . If you are a real Chef with talent to spare then act like one,dress like one and be proud to be one. Bottom line ? you got work to do and I wish you well.

Tina P
Tina P

Hey guys... Tina here.  Wow!!! Sh*tstorm anyone?  I'm sorry Matt if I offended you by wanting to have an enjoyable restaurant experience.  But what I did eat was mediocre at best, and your super mature response has just proven to me that my experience and initial reaction was spot on. My response is on Yelp now as well.  Good luck with your new restaurant.

Stephen
Stephen

Tina's review has shown me that Matt Mccallister doesn't deserve my business. If you're going to get your panties in a wad over 1 bad review, you should probably find another line of work.  What a crybaby. I think Mr/Ms Mccallister has a bit of a self inflated ego, and Ms Tina seems to have popped the bubble that Mccallister is living in. Someone get this guy a bib and pacifier stat!

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I just saw this, Scott, and have read all the comments. BTW, she called Matt the pretentious douche, not the waiter.

Anyways, it looks like things are pretty split down the middle. I've learned from dining at places like this, if you can't see a menu before you go out or before you even go in, you're at the chef's mercy. I'm sure Matt works hard and is good at what he does, but when people can see you, you have to compose yourself. This goes for when they're in your restaurant, as well as what you post on a social networking site. The customer isn't always right, but you want them to come back. I'm not a picky person, my wife is, and so when something isn't cooked right, at most places they offer to recook it or do something else for you, or just remove it from the bill. Sucks to have to lose cost on that product, but that's the cost of doing business. The places that don't give a damn about it, well, I never go back and make sure to tell my friends. The whole 1x10 that they teach you when you're in the restaurant business. Also, you guys charge for rolls at Campo? Really? That's kinda excessive. I appreciate Matt's passion but would suggest a little restraint.Oh, just read a yelp from yesterday, Matt's really not going to like that one.

JTT
JTT

Number 1:  "Stages" are, by law, about a week long.  You go and become someone's bitch.  I don't care how many stages he has done with Achatz or Keller or Waters, or whomever.  A stage does not a chef make.  

You become a chef when you have developed a style, all of your own making.  I don't even know what his style is.  I know what his resume reads like. 

2 years with Pyles and 2 years unemployed doing pop-ups/stages.  God, I know talented chefs who have been at this for DECADES and the Observer doesn't felch them they way they do McCallister. Number 2:  He's, like, 30.  Seriously, City of Ate writers, please write about the industry veterans who behave better than this juvenile.Number 3:  He hung out with Steven Doyle and used him for press.  Your wonderful, talented wunderkind of a chef was constantly in the news when he wasn't even employed because of Doyle.  McCallister skipped tabs, thereby, stealing money from other chefs, with Doyle.  You are the company you keep.  Doyle is not a good person.  See Nancy Nicole's post "The Insatiable Steven Doyle" and you'll find that NO ONE stuck up for Doyle.  McCallister posted under this entry, there and again, cussed out everyone.  At this point, he was in the midst of opening Campo.  Is this how a professional chef acts?    He's an over-entitled chef who has NEVER EVEN owned a restaurant yet.  Imagine how insufferable he would be if he actually had Steven Pyles or Teiich's resume.  The plebians will be stoned before they can check their cars at the valet.    I effin HATE Yelpers.  I wish these $30K millionaires / self-absorbed attention mongers, who threaten servers with their shitty credentials would be run over by tanks for black mailing honest establishments.  In fact, I even hate Yelp sales people, the head Yelp person in Dallas and how they treat restaurants and, again, black mail, us, too by offering to get rid of our bad reviews for advertising and promising repeat business by losers who order $30 worth of food and cheap beer thinking they just paid my rent.  No thanks.    

But anyone who engages in a battle with cheap cretins proves he's on their level.  You dismiss the losers, unless you are a loser, too.

On principle alone, and because you thought you were such a badass to let Hiller publish your  "enlightened" response, count me and Tina out.  How dare  someone so uncouth have enough balls to call out the Culinary Zeus that you are?  It used to take a lifetime to become a Master Chef, not 18 months of a few 3-days stages.  

Darren Schmits
Darren Schmits

Chef Adria also had a staff of about 20 working for him during service.  And those requests were probably made at the time of reservation, not after the plate of food you ordered from the menu was placed in front of you.

cysco
cysco

I will never understand why any business owner, let alone a business owner in a volatile, customer-focused industry like the restaurant business,  would say a single negative word to any customer.

This person chose to give their business to you. The moment that decision was made, a restaurant owner or any business owner should be bending over backwards to make sure that business turns into repeat business. 

Your job is to make sure that the customer is happy. The moment you begin thinking that you don't need a customer, is the moment you start going out of business. 

McCallister needs to check the ego at the door and realize that if he's going to want to truly succeed in this business he's going to have to swallow his pride. The moment this review hit there were three ways of handling.

1. ignore it and let the other reviews speak for themselves2. lash out like a 5-yo kid and guaranteed that that customer and countless others never come to your establishment3. apologize for the poor experience and offer to make it up to the customer.

McCallister chose wrong. 

Add me to the list that won't be returning to Campo or his next restaurant when this one inevitably fails.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

A restaurant is not your momma's kitchen, it can decide what requests it wants to accommodate.  And a customer who whinges because mommy didn't take the bones out of her chicken before she served it is a little much.  What about this?  Look at the menu on-line before you go, and if you don't like what the restaurant is serving, don't go to the restaurant.  

adkim
adkim

i was watching a round table discussion with an elite group of chefs.  when the moderator asked a question in the likes of, "a customer is being fussy and wants mac' and cheese with hot dogs-what do you do?"  one of the chefs quickly responds, "you send the busboy out to get hotdogs"  all the other chefs laugh and nod their heads in agreement.  matt would have to prove himself as a dishwasher at the restaurants those chefs represented.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

A free tip for restaurant owners/chefs/reps:

When someone is obviously being a complete idiot--ignore them. She was being a complete idiot. Other posters will flame the morons for you. Only get into it with someone being intelligently malicious. That way other intelligent people (us, although my intelligence is sporadic) don't think you're a douche and avoid spending our intelligent people money at your place.

Monkee
Monkee

"I went to see The King Bucks at Dada last night. They completely blew me off when I requested "freebird" during the second set. I was waving seventeen dollars up in the air, and they told me to get lost. In front of everybody! I get that you think that you are a badass band, and you don't need to play Lynard Skynard, but don't you want to make the crowd happy? Bunch of pretentious douches!!!"What if that happened? The dining scene in Dallas isn't going to get any better if the Chefs don't take a stand from time to time. Sure, Tina deserves to get chicken and pasta when she goes to eat at an ordinary restaurant. But, would she ask a local artist why they don't paint a Warhol "tomato soup can" at a live showing?

ObserverFan
ObserverFan

Who cares how he reacted? Does his food taste good? As long as he isn't supporting terrorists or something who gives a flying oxtail?

Robert
Robert

I've never eaten at Campo, but after reading Matt McCallister in the Chefs Mouth Off article and now here, I never will.  In the earlier article, McCallister went on and on about some woman that didn't like some kind of glorified duck hushpuppies he made.  He called her bitchy, then bitched about her.  He also said that hushpuppies suck, which they do not.  The guy just seems like a jerk and a pretentious douche.  I choose not to support people that trash their own patrons in the Dallas Observer and on their Facebook pages.

MattL1
MattL1

I knew I liked this guy.  If you're going to stand for something, don't be sheepish about it.  

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

If Tina had made a similar request at Tei An, Lucia, Nana, the Mansion, or any number of other fine dining restaurants in Dallas, her request would have been accommodated with aplomb. The chefs of those restaurants have the skill and experience to improvise, so they would not be “ruining food,” but using their talent to serve the customer.  

Deep_Sigh
Deep_Sigh

I only use Yelp occasionally and only after reading several reviews.  Tina's review is basically what's wrong with one out of three reviews in Yelp, it doesn't really review food.  She gives it a one star because she wasn't hungry, everything seemed heavy, she didn't want bone-in chicken, the chef couldn't substitute a protein in the pasta and she was so pissed off at this point that her dessert tasted like her toenails. The $100 bucks musta been on booze to keep her calm.  Tina's review is the type of review which started that website Fu*knYelper   

Just_The_Facts_69
Just_The_Facts_69

Looks like the FB content is gone...Nice capture though...I won't waste my dollars there...

There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance. This dude is a douche with an apron. For all those who are cheerleading him, wait till you have an objection at his place.

ObserverFan
ObserverFan

This is why Dallas will always be filled with mediocre dining. Every place doesnt have to cater to every person. If you are a picky diner, go to a chain restaurant. There's a reason why chains exist - they are consistent and deliver the same quality service across all establishments because people can complain to corporate.

Mattmccallister
Mattmccallister

JTT -- Hey I totally agree with you about yelpers... obviously I made that apparent from the get go.  I did actually work for Stephan for 5 years and left last December and opened Campo in less than a year from leaving there and in fact I left Stephans to go travel and then come back to open my own place which I am doing now.  I don't even hang out with Steve.. I have a few times and I have never walked out on a tab... wouldn't even think of it.  You sound like the guy I got mad at on NNs article cause you wrote something similar and for some reason you have a deep resentment against me which I don't really understand... I am actually a really easy going guy... will agree with you on my mouth though.. it gets me in trouble sometimes.. I am a publicists nightmare but I am working on it..as you said (I am only 30) learning as I go along, I shouldn't have posted that about Tina... in hindsight but hey whats done is done and I was just expressing my feelings..next time I will just do it at a blank wall or something.  At least I get it out.. I don't have resentments and I don't regret the past... as far as I am concerned.. I'm livin my dreams.  You one the other hand seem to REALLY not like me... maybe we need to hug it out or something but hey there are 12 step programs for working through you resentments.  I can suggest a few if you need them.  I am not a master chef and yes you are normally a bitch when you go stage places... but hey man you gotta start somewhere and I bust my ass with food... I am typically up by 6 in the morning and go to sleep at 2am  most of that time is solely focused on food.  I know I am an asshole... I at least can admit that.. some of my cooks could as well but I am very driven and take my craft seriously.... This if I can help it ... will be my last post ever... on any blog so thank you all for your support... I am glad to have created so much conversation.  This is what I have learned... Yelp sucks... I was wrong for what I posted.... I should be more accommodating... and don't make desserts that taste like feet.

mark
mark

 This guy..I like this guy..Who is this guy?

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

Campo doesn't post a sample menu on their web site or Facebook page, so that's not an option.  

gavlist
gavlist

total non sequitur.  Matt proved himself as a chef at restaurants like Alinea, Daniel, McCrady's and Stephan Pyles.  What you're talking about has nothing to do with skill, and everything to do with a chef's personal choice about what kind of idiocy to indulge.  If someone ordered hotdogs from one of "those" restaurants, when they could have been eating the chef's inspiration, then they were a fool and I hope they payed $50 for that hotdog.  I respect Matt's choice to stand by his work, and I would much rather patronize a restaurant that produces unique, interesting, well-executed food and run by a chef with integrity than one that will serve me mac'n'cheese on a whim.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

did you read her Yelp post? Might want to slightly backpeddle from defending this guy.

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

Despite having a set menu, Ferran Adria accommodated a range of customer requests on the fly at El Bulli--vegetarian, gluten-free, no raw seafood, no variety meats, etc.  Are you suggesting that Adria isn't an artist of the same caliber as Matt McCallister?

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

 Robert. I get it. I guess I don't care, though. (Not about your comment, about a chefs behavior.) When I go out to eat, I want a meal that resonates with my tastes. I want cooking that speaks to me. And so far Matt's cooking has done that. I don't know if I agree with how he handles customers who don't understand his artistry, but I'm not buying a person or a friend when I plunk down $17 or $24 on a dish. I'm buying a meal.

El Toro
El Toro

That maybe true if she were dining during a very off peak time. But I know for a fact that no chef will stop service or otherwise compromise the rest of his guests in an attempt to pacify one needy person. Several of the places you mention have good sized staffs in the kitchen, Matt , like several smaller venues works the line everyday.

Deep_Sigh
Deep_Sigh

Meh his response wasn't bad for a review  that wasn't about his food since she didn't actually eat anything except the ice cream off the dessert.

El Toro
El Toro

That would be the difference between eating to live and living to eat. For those who do not want or cannot expand their culinary horizons...well, that what Mickey D's is for. 

JTT
JTT

Yo Matt,

I'll give you props for this response.  I didn't think you had it in you.I'm not the same dude that you got into with on Sidedish.  Not at all.      

Maybe you generally don't walk out on tabs, but you were with Steve Doyle when you guys walked my restaurant's tab.  For that, we can't hug it out.  

Good luck, man.  Fine-dining in the age of Yelp is a minefield and a lot of times, its the best chefs that don't make it.  Forget the Yelpers and the Yelp free parties.  (Those losers never come back after they've eaten all your food, ran your servers to the ground, and forgot to tip)

Finally, you shouldn't hang out with someone who effs over our industry.  Pick your friends like you pick your produce.  

mark
mark

No this guy! I like this guy...

adkim
adkim

well, matt would've proved himself to have been fired at Daniel since Boulud was on that round table panel.  you may think it's non sequitur, but it's all relevant to me.  subbing out a protein, indulging idiocy by getting hot dogs at a michelin starred restaurant, etc, etc...cooking for other people to me is about pleasing them, watching their reaction to my food.  not stroking my ego.  that happens when they say, "hot damn that's good."

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

Alinea, Daniel, and McCrady's all accommodate a wide variety of customer requests (e.g., gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, common allergies, etc.).  Do you think that demonstrates a lack of integrity or talent on the part of Grant Achatz, Daniel Boulud, and Sean Brock?  

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

Do you believe, El Toro, that no one in the kitchen at Campo could improvise a light pasta dish without stopping service or adversely impacting the experience of other guests?

Just_The_Facts_69
Just_The_Facts_69

At least if I go to Micky D's and get a jackwagon for a cashier or manager, I know I haven't invested much.  :)))

mark
mark

Shit got real. On another note:

One of my (many) favorites:3. Total payments to all employees:a4. Exempt from FUTA:b5. Total of payments TO EACH EMPLOYEE in excess of 7,000:c6. Subtotal (line 4 + line 5)7a. Total taxable FUTA (line 3-line 6)7b. Line 7a paid BEFORE 7/1/2011 x .008 = 7c7d. Line 7a paid AFTER 6/30/2011 x.006 = 7e

Think about: payment in excess of 7k (meaning applied to 7a) for each employee paid in what half of the year. WTF? I just want to cook food for people.

JTT
JTT

I respect your willingness to take responsibility, but I stand by everything I wrote.  

Based on Doyle's behavior, my own experience with him and based on what other industry people said on NN's post, Doyle probably told you that he gets comped every where he goes.  That, obviously, ain't true.  That's what went down, that's what goes down everywhere else he goes.      I'm not a liar.  I got my beef out with you. I don't hate you (anymore)...  Maybe, one day, I might even come and eat at your new place, since you seem like you are a more decent guy than I, initially, gave you credit for.  I don't want your money and I ain't "friending" you on Facebook or messaging you.  I'll take your word that you are a honest, easy-going chef but I'm not biting your ultimatum. 

The evidence that Doyle walks tabs was over the NN post.  As much as he helped you get in the press, look at what hanging out with a grifter did to you....  There's a price you pay when you befriend someone who fucks your own industry.     

Since you'll open your own place soon, maybe you'll realize how difficult it is to swallow the very bitter cost of the food you prepare for Doyle while you're busy whoring it away to pay unemployment taxes, franchise taxes, payroll taxes, liquor taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, health department, fire department.  Oh, and did you take out a loan with a bank? 

The Yelp maggots are the LEAST of your worries.  If you really knew what you have to go through to be an owner, you'd shut your pie hole about Yelpers every time someone interviewed you.  

Yelpers can't shut you down, but the TABC can, TWC can.  Even if you run a clean establishment, get on the wrong side of your health inspector and you won't make the payment on you lease.

Your government will fuck you up, son.  Add that to the list of things you have to learn.           

mark
mark

 Ah, man, I don't know what's real anymore..

Mattmccallister
Mattmccallister

JTT private message me on my facebook page and I will square this away because I want to make whatever you are talking about right..............I have not walked out on a bill but if anybody I have been with has then I will take care of it... food industry people are my people and I will take care of them............I have always paid my way .. and don't disrespect me by saying I haven't...I don't fuck around and if you don't private message me then you full of shit... and I know that you are in the wrong and I will everything you have said

gavlist
gavlist

I was trying to point out that there are clearly separable roles involved in running a restaurant.  One role is a sense of how you want to run the business.  The price per dinner, the serving size, and the degree to which each restaurateur wishes to accommodate off-menu requests are all a matter of choice.  Another role is the actual cooking - your statement that "matt would have to prove himself as a dishwasher" at those restaurants sounds like a reflection of his skill, which was clearly not lacking.  Yet another role, in my mind, is the "artistry" - creativity, risk-taking, and the desire to present your "work of art" as you envision it.  You can probably think of restaurants where each of these components are implemented to varying extents.

Since these are separable skills, it's incorrect to say that because a chef makes business decisions that you disagree with (not fetching hotdogs for fools), his skill as a cook should be questioned (he's barely fit to wash dishes, let alone cook). 

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

I agree that there's an element of situation specificity.  If there was a pea agnolotti entree and she's griping that everything is meat-heavy, her characterization of the menu is factually wrong. I have no idea what was on the menu the night she was there.  I can say that in my few visits, there were no vegetarian entrees.  Having a well-considered vegetarian entree or two seems to be a common form of preemptive accommodation in restaurants in that part of town.  Even if Campo's menu doesn't feature a vegetarian entree on a given night, it's a common enough request (for reasons of morality, health, or personal taste) that a chef of McCallister's ambition should be prepared to take it in stride.

Nonetheless, it remains a service issue.  While "Tina" didn't specifically request a vegetarian entree, it seems like a vegetarian entree would have addressed her desire for something lighter.  If instead of refusing to accommodate her request (and, if her account is accurate, rolling his eyes within her view), McCallister had briefly visited her table and suggested a vegetarian entree that's consistent with the level of food he wants to send out, it might have circumvented the 1-star review, McCallister's tirade, and this whole discussion. 

gavlist
gavlist

 me?  Well, I think it's situation specific.  In this situation, the menu already has a number of items that I would consider to be light.  There are almost always oysters on the menu.  The house salad is light - there's a fried egg on top, and a "ham vinaigrette", but it's far from "super meaty and heavy".  There's a beet salad.  There's a nice cauliflower gratin, which isn't exactly light, but it's not a big pile of meat either.  There is often a vegetable- or seafood-based pasta on the menu... the last time I was there, a pea agnolotti and a squid-ink pasta. And there's always a fish dish with plenty of very delicious vegetables on the side. 

So I see this as significantly different from the case of a vegan showing up and finding nothing on the menu that is animal-free.  Having said that, I also think that with dietary constraints comes some measure of personal responsibility.  As you point out, the CampO menu is not published online.  But a vegan or gluten-averse individual, or someone who is particularly averse to eating a "huge pile of meat", could certainly call the restaurant in advance of their dinner and ask if there are existing menu items that would suit their preference.

But mostly, I think that it's wrong to want to be able to satisfy any need, at any time, at any restaurant.  Maybe I'm reaching, but this reminds me of the mindset that gets us low-grade "fresh" tomatoes year long, etc. It pushes things towards mediocrity.  Not that any of the restaurants you mention, where such requests would have been embraced, are even close to mediocre.  But I just don't see anything wrong with going to Lucia and tasting what David Uygur wants to cook, rather than demanding spaghetti and meatballs. 

gavlist
gavlist

 however... if a chef at a 3 star restaurant caves into a customer request for a hotdog, then yes - I'd see that as a loss of integrity.

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

Do you think a request for a lighter, less meat-heavy entree is any less reasonable than a request for a gluten-free or vegan entree?

gavlist
gavlist

I didn't say there was any loss of integrity in accommodating reasonable requests. 

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

So if you weren't there, it could have been dead that night and they could have made it but probably wouldn't have, correct? If you don't know either way, then you're guessing. I could care less about a chef's reputation if he can't change something for me.

notasmuchfreetimeasyou
notasmuchfreetimeasyou

if the dish says "oxtail sugo," she is simply foolish for requesting chicken instead of oxtail. do you go to a diner and request fried steak for a dish that says "fried chicken?"

El Toro
El Toro

I guess we will have to end with us disagreeing, but as neither of us were there I guess the chef will get to make that call and live with the outcome. I did enjoy bantering the idea with you though.

Scott DFW
Scott DFW

It's clearly the chef's decision.  I was just pointing out that, from what I've seen, most Dallas kitchens with A-list talent would've decided differently.  

El Toro
El Toro

Don't know..wasn't there. But I do feel that is the Chef decision. Also with any chef ..do you think they just tell their kitchen to fell free to ad lib a dish for a guest. Probably not, especially in a relativly new place with the Chef's reputation on it.  

El Toro
El Toro

if you think that was being a dick then you are way past an idiot and bordering on moron. In all of our banter neither of us had to resort to pettty name calling or vulgar threats. It seems that is all you know. Cussing and threat are the last resort of the uneducated 

G_David
G_David

 If you think "nice discussion" equals "being a dick", then you're correct and I apologize.

El Toro
El Toro

we were having a nice discussion about two different opinions and you butt in with a crass "kick you in the nuts" how every educated and mature. Matt is a chef and he's very good at what he does. You sir are an idiot,

G_David
G_David

Somebody should kick you in the nuts for using the term CHEF driven restaurant.

El Toro
El Toro

If you fail to understand the education you just missed by going to a CHEF driven restaurant and being told you cannot make up your own plate, then I hope you enjoy your 2 all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a seasame seed bun.

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