Spike Mendelsohnn, of Top Chef and DC’s Good Stuff Eatery and We The Pizza, gave his adopted hometown something between a backhanded compliment and a smack in the face, in a profile from the People’s District:
"With time, I have really come to love this city. New York is over saturated with too many concepts. You may be popular for two weeks, and then there is a new trend. Here, I opened one restaurant, Good Stuff, that developed my entire career. It is nice to be in a second-tier city where you can be a big fish in a small pond."
The commenters on DCist have been having a field day with that last comment, with this one being one of my favorites:
Doesn’t matter what “tier” DC is, it is still more important to Spike than Spike is to DC.
Congrats, you cashed in on a little celebrity to open up a pizza and burger joint; the same thing former high school quarterbacks do every day in one stop light towns all over the country.
Or this one:
Spike’s not even a “big fish” among Top Chefs in DC, let alone DC chefs in general.. Voltaggio, Isabella and even Carla have more recognition, both professionally and popularly.
DC has some really great chefs, and some really great restaurants in a variety of price ranges and cuisines. What that has to do with New York, I do not know. Is it impossible for New Yorkers to grasp the existence of other
geographic locations unless they have analogs on the Subway somewhere?
The way I see it, while DC is not NYC, that line is a terrible way to market yourself in the city you’ve decided to call home. While he makes reasonably tasty burgers and pizza, Spike is a Big Fish only in the way that the Georgetown Cupcaker-ers are Big Fish. They’re primarily tourist attractions for people who watch reality TV.
Update: here’s Spike’s semi-retraction, via EaterDC:
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.