Spike Mendelsohn landed himself in a bit of hot water with the local food community this afternoon with a People's District interview in which he compares DC to New York — always dangerous territory. The most inflammatory part of the interview comes toward the end when Mendelsohn explains his love for DC by saying, "It is nice to be in a second-tier city where you can be a big fish in a small pond."
Yikes. So, naturally, the blogosphere was up in arms. The Hill Is Home quickly penned a missive titled "Get Over Yourself, Mr. Mendelsohn," chastising the chef for calling himself a big fish: "Plastering pictures of yourself all over your restaurants and appearing on reality shows may make you a big personality, but that’s about it." DCist was a bit more measured, but asks "what does a burger joint proprietor possibly have to gain by dishing out back-handed compliments to the city that's done little but embrace him?"
Mendelsohn was working damage control on Twitter all afternoon, and emailed Eater an official reaction. His message is posted below in full. It involves free hugs!
People are misconstruing Danny's interview and he would agree that my comments were not in the least bit disparaging to my DC.
This is my home and I have nothing but love and admiration for all of the people who have supported my family and restaurants here. There is nothing secondary about DC in my mind, if anyone thinks differently of me come down to restaurants for a hug. Im here all night.
· All Previous Spike Mendelsohn Coverage [-EDC-]
· Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef and Good Stuff Tells His Story [People's District]