Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The following item has caused a bit of a flurry here in the Peg, with armies lining up on both sides of the debate to comment. It starts off small...real small...a student at Red River College putting together a self made book. Writing, designing, and self publishing it all in one the student put together a collection of interviews with Winnipeg chefs entitled 'The Last Crumb' and printed up all of 100 copies. Not exactly an overwhelming piece of publicity, but the owner of one restaurant read about his chef in it and decided that said chef was a detriment to the image of his outfit. Termination. The chef, however, was popular with the other workers at the restaurant, and they walked out along with him in protest. Here's the first story on this matter. Read it and see what you think. Form an opinion. Then go on to the second one. Here, from the Winnipeg Free Press...
Not making any dough here
Chef says he was fired, eatery doors closed
By: Matt Preprost

One of the city's most celebrated restaurants is closed after staff walked out Friday when the head chef was fired.

Scott Bagshaw, who ran the kitchen at Pizzeria Gusto on Academy Road, said he was fired Friday afternoon after the eatery's owners read a story Bagshaw shared with a Winnipeg writer about a "two-day bender" while working in Australia almost eight years ago.

Bagshaw says he was fired and was asked to finish out his shift. Instead, he and his kitchen staff walked out.

"We walked out in solidarity," Bagshaw said. "The restaurant is still closed. They don't even have a dishwasher, they've got nothing.

"The intellectual property of the recipes, they don't have that either. They've got a menu but they don't have a way to recreate it," he said.

Pizzeria Gusto co-owner Don Mottola declined comment Sunday evening. Several calls and messages left to co-owner Bobby Mottola went unreturned by press time.

The pizzeria is a popular restaurant and many local and national food magazines laud Bagshaw as one of the top chefs in Winnipeg.

Cook Tara Podaima and sous-chef Matt Withoos were working Friday and walked out with Bagshaw, Podaima said.

"I was prepping in the kitchen. Scott came to work and came into the kitchen to let us know he had arrived and then went out to the front. He came back five minutes later and told me he was fired," said Podaima, who had worked for Bagshaw for over a year. "We told (Matt) what happened, got changed, packed up, and headed out the door.

"It wasn't really a question in our mind whether we would go with him or not," Podaima said.

Podaima said the other kitchen staff didn't show up for work later that night or on Saturday. The restaurant is normally closed Sunday.

A hand-written sign on the restaurant door says that it is closed for the evening and apologizes for any inconvenience.

In the story about his experiences in Australia, Bagshaw, 36, details a party romp he was taken on by his then-boss after working 23 straight 16-hour days. Bagshaw went to party after party for two days straight over a weekend, without sleep, before returning to work on the Monday. The story happened in 2002, while he was working at Monsoon Vietnamese Bistro in Australia.

"The (Pizzeria Gusto) owners came in after they saw it and said I misrepresented what the restaurant was about and what it needed to represent," Bagshaw said.

"I don't see how (the story) would damage the restaurant," he said. "Anything I said about the restaurant was positive and all my stories didn't take place in this restaurant, not even in this country."

In August 2008, Free Press food critic Marion Warhaft gave the restaurant four and a half stars out of five; the same year, Where magazine named the restaurant one of the top 10 in Canada.

Bagshaw's Australian story is published in an upcoming book about Winnipeg chefs called The Last Crumb, written by Red River College student Rhéanne Marcoux, who wrote, designed and self-published the book as part of a year-long project. Only 100 copies were printed, and Marcoux is still trying to line up stores and restaurants to sell it.

"My intentions when writing this book were to get Winnipeg chefs the acknowledgment and proper recognition they deserve," Marcoux wrote in an email. "I never could have anticipated this. I was shocked and really bothered by it all," she said.

Added Bagshaw: "She wanted stories about chefs being chefs -- the crazy stories about how we live and how we think. (Bobby) was aware about the book, he knew what was happening and he was all for it," Bagshaw said.
Seems fairly straighforward doesn't it ? The boss at Pizzeria Gusto loves control beyond all things, and he should really do something about his long standing habit of indulging in concrete enemas. Ah, but there's another little bit of this story that makes it a little more complicated. Here's the rest of the story from CBC.
Chef fired over racy comments
CBC News
The doors of a popular gourmet pizza restaurant in Winnipeg remained closed for a third day on Monday after an article in a recently published book allegedly prompted its owner to fire his head chef.

Scott Bagshaw told CBC News that he was fired by the owners of Pizzeria Gusto on Friday because of racy comments he made about the restaurant business, his past drug use and his interactions with colleagues while at work.

'We play the "would you" game .… You know, "would you sleep with her?" type of thing.'
—Chef Scott Bagshaw, quoted in The Last Crumb.

The article appears in a locally published book about Winnipeg chefs called The Last Crumb, which was written by a Red River College communications student as part of a year-long, school-sanctioned project.

Bagshaw said one of the owners of the Academy Road restaurant, Bobby Mottola, read the article and fired him.

Bagshaw said he went into the kitchen and told his staff. Some responded by quitting on the spot as a show of solidarity with him — right before a busy shift.

"I walked in … and like that, no questions asked, [they] rolled up their knives, took off their [uniforms] and walked out with me," Bagshaw said.

Mottola declined to be interviewed about what happened, but said the restaurant will reopen as soon as possible.

'100% honest'
Bagshaw said he doesn't regret giving the interview that led to the article and his subsequent firing, saying author Rheanne Marcoux only asked him to tell the truth about his past experiences.

"She wanted a story about how chefs are and what we think and what we do, and I … gave it to her … like 100 per cent honest," Bagshaw said.

In an excerpt from the two-page article, Bagshaw comments on what it's like to work in the pizzeria's open kitchen:

"Being in an open kitchen does have its perks. 'We play the "would you" game,' laughs [Bagshaw], who spends most of his 14-hour shifts rubbing elbows with his sous-chef Matt. 'You know, "would you sleep with her?" type of thing. We have our inside jokes, it makes you forget you’ve been working 14 hours.'"

Bagshaw said he's already got leads for a new job. He said the loyalty his staffers showed by walking out with him was incredible.

"As bad as getting fired feels, that feeling really offset it," he said.

The entire article featuring Bagshaw can be viewed by clicking the link at the top right of the story. Warning: some graphic language appears. ( Molly Note: The article in question can be viewed by going to the link below )

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2010/03/29/man-pizzeria-gusto-bagshaw-fired.html#ixzz0ji9UMits
I personally have to say that I still have a lot of sympathy for Bagshaw even if he comes of as far less sympathetic in the article. Read it. It's far more entertaining than these two news stories. If I were working there I'd definitely have walked out along with the other staff. Still...it boggles the mind to imagine what he was thinking when he made his "true confession". The 100 copy book would probably have disappeared into the student's curriculum vitae if the owners of the restaurant hadn't overreacted. They should have waited for it to die a natural death. The revelations, however, are more than sufficient for the sort of Hitler-Stalin pact of the Jesus and law and order forces allied with the politically correct to have mounted a jihad if it were to come to their ears. But it likely wouldn't have. You can, however, see the point of trying to avoid this sort of crusade, even if the owners ended up doing themselves much more damage than even the worst scenario could have created. In any case it is doubtful that more than one in twenty actual diners at this trendy restaurant would have worked up a nanogram of outrage. What do you think ?


Unknown said...

I would be interested in obtaining a copy of The Last Crumb. Can someone tell me where I can buy this book? Cheers

Anonymous said...

McNally Robinson bookstores in Winnipeg- you can order online.

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