We expect that celebrity chefs have a pretty sweet deal when it comes to getting into the restaurants of their choice, even somewhere like Chicago’s elite Alinea during the busy Home & Housewares Show weekend. Nonetheless, Alinea co-owner Nick Kokonas took to Medium to blog that the first female Iron Chef, Cat Cora, “intentionally arrived 24 hours and 15 minutes late to a booking at Alinea, proceeded to create a scene, accuse our staff of sexism, invoked a ‘chef’s code’ whereby we were expected to ‘roll a table into the kitchen’ for her, and then left with ‘fuck you, fuck [chef] Grant, fuck Alinea’ while flipping off one of our kindest veteran servers who tried mightily to apologize even though the situation was not his fault.”
Thanks to a paper trail of reservations and emails, Kokonas charts the whole incident out on the blog, even though “It is The Alinea Group’s policy not to comment on private guests’ experiences, but occasionally a diner makes an incident public and we are forced to respond.” This is one of those times, apparently.
To attempt to summarize the back-and-forth: Cora’s assistant apparently made a reservation for two for Cora for Friday night at 5 p.m. She was a no-show. The restaurant reached out, and offered to reschedule the reservation fo 9 p.m. the next night. Cora’s team said that that time was too late. The Alinea team maintained that that time was the only one available (assuming that Alinea during a trade-show weekend must be packed to the rafters), and that if Cora showed up at 5 p.m on Saturday there would be no table available for her. Nevertheless, she showed up and proceeded toward the outburst described above.
Cora then went to Instagram, ranting that “there was no table for us EVEN THOUGH I HAD AN EMAIL CONFIRMATION FROM THEM FOR THE RESERVATION [all caps hers].” She went on, “I would never do this to a guest let alone a fellow Chef.” She has since deleted the post, but revealed that she went from Alinea to The Girl And The Goat where she was greeted without a reservation, so win for her.
Now that this feud has transferred to the online world, we don’t expect it to wrap up anytime soon. Cora has since released a followup statement, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, saying she was just trying to start “a conversation” with her IG post:
After a frustrating encounter, the post was originally put up a to start a conversation about what hospitality means to people… My wife and I did not like the way the restaurant handled the mistake they made with our reservation. They took their post down, we took our post down. We accomplished what we wanted: A conversation.
Although, at this writing, Kokonas’ post is still up.