What started as a social media storm after pop-up chef Peter Barlow threw a ‘tantrum’ when eating at much-vaunted Austin restaurant Comedor, evolved into a story of one chef recognising another chef in trouble and reaching out.
Comedor chef Gabriel Erales posted screenshots of insulting messages, allegedly sent by Barlow on Instagram as well as a receipt showing a $0 tip from the chef after eating there.
According to Erales’s account Barlow dined at Comedor on February 29th and was initially upset that Erales wasn’t there. According to Barlow’s Instagram account, the chef claims to have ordered two cocktails and a “crudo we didn’t even eat” from the restaurant’s menu, and left before ordering anything else.
Erales, who wasn’t at the restaurant at the time, claims that Barlow sent him messages complaining about the restaurant’s food and service, some of which were sent at 5am. “I expected a lot more,” the message Erales says he received from Barlow reads in part. “Your caliber of attention was missed. This trip [to Austin] was based to see you and eat. Fucking major dissatisfaction.”
Earles, who was absent from the restaurant because he had left early in order to spend time with his children wrote “I’ve never encountered a chef that felt so privileged to insult a team because they did not get treated like they were celebrities.”
“Sorry I missed you at the restaurant,” he added.
Earles’ posting attracted a wave of criticism on social media, including from some of Texas’ foremost chefs such as Homewood chef-owner Matt McCallister, Jose chef Anastacia Quinones, Katherine Clapner, former Mirador chef Junior Borges, and even Barlow’s former employer, restaurateur Stephan Pyles. “I have been the target recently of Peter’s wrath as well, and it is indeed unpleasant,” Pyles wrote. “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
All the negative publicity put Barlow in a very difficult place and luckily the story is not without redemption for the Dallas chef, who has asked for forgiveness and says that he is seeking treatment for alcohol addiction.
While hundreds of people were queuing up to articulate their disapproval, one chef recognised a chef clearly in trouble and reached out. Chef Philip Speer, who heads up the pastry program and co-owns Comedor called Barlow.
“Long story short, I called Peter and he was crying and distraught,” Speer told Eater. “He said he was humiliated and embarrassed, that he was at rock bottom. And I told him that if he didn’t fucking make a change, it’s going to get worse. Rock bottom gets lower. As a human, I felt like I needed to reach out to a fellow alcoholic and I’ve gotten in contact with someone who’s going to take Peter to an AA meeting tonight.”
The sorry tale seems to have been resolved in a sense and if chef Barlow gets the help he is seeking then there’s a lesson for all of us.
All the critical Instagram posts have been cancelled and Barlow has apologised saying that his behaviour at the restaurant was “fueled (sic) by emotions and alcohol.” “I was being a true asshole,” Barlow wrote in the apology. “Let this be a lesson to always treat people with respect and dignity for there [sic] hard work and never do what I did.”
“He’s owned what he’s done, and I commend him for that,” Speer said to Eater. “I told him as long as his hand is out in an honest and genuine way, the people who he thinks are against him will fight for him,” Speer says. “My hand will remain out for him until he bites it, and knowing me it will still be out even then. I have compassion for him, and we’re going to help him. If all of this can result in one man, one person getting help, then this has gone the right way.”
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