chefs

Angstgiving: Disgruntled diner and chef clash on Facebook

Nov. 29, 2012 at 6:58 PM ET

Restaurant customers’ complaints used to be (relatively) private affairs — a dish sent back, an awkward face-to-face with the chef, or perhaps a telephone call the next day for some griping about a less-than-stellar experience.

But thanks to the Internet, diners with eater’s remorse can share critiques in the most public of places — on a restaurant’s Facebook page. Sometimes things get a little out of control. Call it poster’s remorse.

That’s what happened Tuesday between the chef-and-owner of Boston’s Pigalle restaurant, Marc Orfaly, and diner Sandy Tremblay, who did not mince words when she complained on the establishment’s Facebook page about the pumpkin pie she was served on Thanksgiving Day.

“Really horrible pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving!!” Tremblay wrote five days after her Thanksgiving dinner, before going on to say that the “cream sauce” on her pie “literally tasted like vomit.”

Ultimately, Tremblay charged the restaurant with ruining her holiday and said she would have rather given the money “to the homeless person outside [the] front door [rather than] waste it on that crappy food.”

Harsh, right? Well, Orfaly did not take the grievances lightly.

“Hey sandy, go #@!* yourself,” he soon replied, before firing off a string of blunt, expletive-ridden comments and asking her to give him a ring — presumably for more of the same.

And it didn’t end there. Orfaly wrote a second post addressed to “Pigalle fans” a little while later. “It is hard to believe that in this day and age there are still uneducated, unintelligent, unpolished human beings out there that still go out to eat, but there are, and this woman proves my point,” it began.

“If anyone has ever had a problem at any restaurant, food or service, you complain or bring it to their attention, at the restaurant, not on someone’s [Facebook] page,” he continued.

The spat incited a blast of comments — some chastising Tremblay’s choice of Facebook as the venue for her criticisms, others lambasting Orfaly’s brash reaction.

By Wednesday morning the contentious posts had gone viral, and soon afterward neither Tremblay’s nor Orfaly’s comments were to be found on Pigalle’s page (you can still find them on Eater). But it didn’t end there either.

Tremblay soon continued posting angry messages to the page, and Orfaly responded with salty language in return.

“I find you as vomitus as your pallet,” he shot back in one of the more noteworthy posts. “I gave you my number, but you are obviously too [weak] in nature to pick up the phone.”

Yet Orfaly’s tune changed rather abruptly on Wednesday afternoon, when he issued a public apology on the restaurant’s Facebook account.

“The truth is, I overreacted,” he wrote. “While we feel that if a guest is dissatisfied, they should bring it to our attention immediately, there is no excuse for name-calling and foul language. I was wrong.” Tremblay responded a couple of hours later, assuring all commenters that she’d spoken with the chef, and that both had apologized. She even recommended that people try Pigalle for themselves.

Pigalle Boston Facebook /

Although Orfaly is no longer giving interviews, the restaurant’s spokesperson, Wendy Goldstein Pierce, at Goldstein Pierce PR, confirmed the “reconciliation” yesterday.

“I think they came to an agreement and made their amends,” she told TODAY.com. “She said she’s going to come back in and check it out.”

The pair has appropriately extended Internet olive branches as well by becoming Facebook friends.

Of course, all kitchen complaints don’t cause quite the same stir on the Web. Some chefs take the opportunity to defend their restaurant or food in a less impassioned manner.

Just yesterday, Daniel Delaney, chef-and-owner of the newly opened BrisketTown in New York City, took to Eater’s comment thread to address complaints that his meat is too expensive at $25 per pound.

He thanked commenters for their feedback and explained why his Texas-style barbecue comes with a high-price tag (they use outdoor smokers that need to be manned by staff 24 hours a day).

“I think most people don’t realize how impactful the things they say online really are, nor do they understand that people are listening,” he told TODAY.com. “I look at that kind of confrontation as an opportunity for education.”

What do you do when you're unhappy with a restaurant's food or service?

More:

Have it THEIR way: More eateries say 'no substitutions'

Chicken pudding? Be an adventurous eater without getting sick

At this restaurant, real Italian grandmas rule the kitchen

TOP