Gabrielle Hamilton Plans to Partner With Ken Friedman to Run the Spotted Pig

The Prune chef is pursuing a deal with the restaurant’s owner, who has been accused of sexual harassment.


Comments: 103

  1. This is abhorrent. It is not the responsibility of women to fix reputations of men who have done such gross harm to others. And it's obvious how disgusting commentary such as "you have to be in bed with the devil to control him" about someone who has sexually harassed and intimidated others is, ESPECIALLY in this context. We've all read the articles about how tough life is for women in the food industry. Banding together with men who've abused only makes it harder for the next woman.

  2. You are right - it is not the responsibility of women to fix the reputations of men who have done gross harm to others.

    But let's not forget that Ken Friedman was the one who did the assaulting. Why is Gabrielle being asked to reconcile HIS behavior with her career now?

    Ken should have been removed from his culinary position.

  3. Perhaps she has a plan to eventually oust him. That, I'd support.

  4. BRAVA. This is courage and audacity at their finest. Nothing gets better if we choose to concentrate exclusively on killing what we hate, without also expending some energy, time, thought, and resources to save what we love.

    I congratulate and support Ms. Harrison for providing an example of the value of being constructive in the wake of so much destructiveness. Class act.

  5. So ... are they going to rehire or somehow address all those who were harassed?

  6. This is appallingly tone deaf and short sighted. If they want to take over the restaurant, go ahead, but without Friedman. Chef Hamilton, who's work I admire, is coming across as opportunistic at best

  7. Another Bloomfield in the making. That anyone would want to associate with that monster Friedman and furthermore, stake their hard-earned reputation is nothing short of baffling.

  8. Good news. She’s awesome.
    Beats burning him at the stake, the restaurant to the ground, and the workers losing their jobs.

  9. This is all wrong.

    “They ought to be happy that these two women are going into a man-made disaster to help make things right.” No. It is not a man-made disaster in the sense of a good business losing money, or a well-intentioned restaurant lacking good dishes that bring in diners. This move will benefit Ken Friedman, and is an insult to anyone who has been harassed by him over the years. He should not be allowed to have any success in restaurants in NYC, or elsewhere, going forward.

    I am surprised and disappointed by Ms Hamilton's decision.

  10. Seriously? Hamilton is comparing what she's doing at Spotted Pig to what Chef Jose Andres has been doing selflessly for months in Puerto Rico? Seriously? Man-made disaster and natural disaster? Seriously?

  11. I was stunned to read that claim. What was she thinking. It sounds appalling. Could she really intend this analogy? There seems a lack of empathy in it at many levels.

  12. Read her memoir. She does not suffer from a lack of self regard.

  13. This reminds me of the controversy surrounding Kanye West supporting Trump. Just because you are (woman/queer/Black/minority) you should not be expected to rise against a certain issue. And although I am disgusted by this idea, I don't find it wholly surprising. Hamilton is a white woman of privilege and pretty out of touch with what the women accusers have faced. There are myriad better options for where to dine in NYC than Spotted Pig or even Prune for that matter (find both super overrated) so let's show our resistance by not supporting either financially.

  14. I don't get it.

  15. Talk about tone deaf.... not to mention her enormous level of self-absorption

    “Everyone gets so excited when José Andrés goes into these natural disasters and helps people,” Ms. Hamilton said, referring to the Spanish-American chef who received praise for his relief efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last fall. “They ought to be happy that these two women are going into a man-made disaster to help make things right.”

    Right - because advancing on a business opportunity with a guy accused of sexual impropriety and harassment, is exactly the same level of heroic endeavor that feeding thousands of people going hungry following a natural disaster, on your own, because governmental agencies failed and you can't stand by and do nothing.

    Shame.

  16. I like Prune but was disgusted by her comment. I hope she clarifies her intent.

  17. Took the words right out of my mouth. What a completely stupid comparison to make.
    I had always admired Gabrielle, but this is beyond. It's a restaurant run by a predator, it gets "made right" by running him and the likes of him out of town and working with and rewarding people who do things the right way, not "fixing" things for them so they can continue to profit. Ugh.

  18. There were several typos in your comment. It should read:

    "I hope $he clarifie$ her intent."

  19. Good for Gabrielle. She is tough as nails.

  20. No, no, NO! WHY would a queer female chef do ANYTHING to resurrect a business that should be shuttered? ESPECIALLY since she is the lifeblood of her own flagship restaurant?

    Sigh. Prune WAS my favorite Manhattan spot. However, I see no reason to return if a) she's not in the kitchen and b) sleeping with the enemy. Buh-bye Gabby.

  21. The restaurant is packed so it's not going to close. While I wouldn't have made the decision Hamilton did, it was her decision and she explained her reasons for it. So if the restaurant is going to stay open, and is still going to be co-owned by Ken Friedman, maybe it makes sense to have someone in there that's going to take command, completely overhaul the system there, and make it a good, safe, work environment for women.

  22. Is this an Onion article!? The fact is the Spotted Pig is overrated and unremarkable. To suggest she's 'saving' it, as if it's some grande dame of NYC restaurants, is laughable. Those current/former employees will find work elsewhere--always have, always will. To even bring up Andres is a non-nonsensical, apples and oranges comparison. He will benefit off of her name. Be interesting to see how female staff reacts.

  23. Ms. Hamilton, with all due respect, it takes some nerve to compare your takeover of a troubled credentialed restaurant in NYC with Jose Andreas feeding the displaced hungry victims of a natural disaster.

  24. I tried to read Ms. Hamilton's books and found them narcissistic and facile. Her and Merriman's decision to partner with Friedman - in the face of accusations of sexual harassment by his former women workers - may not be narcissistic, but is certainly facile. I wonder what gaining more wealth has to do with this.
    I miss early Seventies Feminism.

  25. For such a great writer, Hamilton's analogy could use a little work. Andres' work is humanitarian aid, her "rescue" of a beloved but sullied restaurant is far from the redress of a "man-made disaster." It is profiting from a crime scene. Not even the vast number of women whose mental and physical health and safety were sacrificed on The Spotted Pig's grounds can render it sacred. It should be slaughtered.

    And Quatrano's comment that "you have to get in bed with the devil to control him" is both wildly insensitive to all the women who were violated at The Spotted Pig, with its undertone of victim blaming, and yet funny considering how very unlikely Hamilton or Merriman is to "get in bed" with Friedman, figuratively or otherwise.

    With any luck it's just a premature announcement that will come to nothing.

    And to think this has happened in the wake of Anthony Bourdain's death. Would have loved to hear his thoughts.

  26. There is not enough salt to scrub that board clean Madam.

  27. This is bitterly disappointing. I feel betrayed. I read her memoir and dined at Prune many times. Never again. I had some concerns about her integrity in the past, and now those have been justified. I am stunned she will help put money in that man's pockets. Shame on her.

  28. Ms. Bloomfield also has a lot on her plate. She’ll be taking over
    Tosca out here in SF. It won’t work
    for my husband and me. She had
    to have known about the odious
    behavior of her partner! We won’t
    dine at any of these restos when
    we’re in NYC. I’m pretty sure these
    women chefs just don’t give a damn; their ambition is overriding
    any good sensibilities they might
    have.
    One last thing. Don’t pretend you
    know what “getting in bed with the
    devil” means until you’ve read, and
    understood, the literature of hell. I especially recommend “Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov. You’ll laugh your head
    off!!!

  29. Ms. Hamilton and her wife sound like the worst kind of opportunists. Rush in to make more money? Rush in to "save" Friedman? Her comment “Everyone gets so excited when José Andrés goes into these natural disasters and helps people”. Well, he has created an organization that has fed over a million people. That is not the same as you going into business with a misogynistic predator. You should be ashamed.

  30. Why not pair with Mario Batali to open the Sweaty Pig?

  31. It is time to let the Spotted Pig die. It is hard to see this as anything else than a mercenary and self-serving act. Joining forces with Friedman only rewards his misbehavior. What is Hamilton thinking and how can she let this taint her other celebrated work? Disgusting.

  32. This is gross. What a tone deaf comparison to Jose Andres who is actually doing real charitable work versus Hamilton's opportunistic profit driven collaboration with a sexual harasser. All the people working at Spotted Pig are probably excellent restaurant workers. I have no doubt they could find comparable work elsewhere.

    And this quote “Sometimes you have to be in bed with the devil to control him,” is ridiculous. I hope Quatrano is embarrassed. I suppose this is why Batali thinks he can make a comeback....

    Prune is good but all of this is a hard pass for me.

  33. Give her a pass. She's a chef not a diplomat. I'm guessing it was a poor attempt at humor by comparing Jose Andres helping in Puerto Rico. I'm also guessing she wasn't banking on increasing the number of Puerto Ricans spotted at the Spotted Pig. If this doesn't pan out she can apply for head chef at the White House. Keeping the man made disaster theme going. If not the White House, maybe the Club Med Al Franken has been hiding out.

  34. Here comes the Spotted Prune. The comparison with Puerto Rican relief efforts does not get you onward with good footing,but if something positive can rise from this morass,good on ya. I’m saving my pitchfork for the march on the White House.

  35. First change the name for the name hits quite close to the owner who is in trouble at the moment.

    Next demolish the third floor horror chamber for obvious reasons.

    Finally, heal the staff. No one should have to go through any of this.

    In about one year, no potential customer will probably remember at least the tourists.

    The rest of us already know there’s way too many other places to indulge that won’t creep us out.

  36. Will Bill Cosby be the line cook?

  37. I’d starve first before I’d eat there.

  38. no integrity. and that jose andre comment - wow. so inappropriate. will not be returning to prune or to the pig, that's for sure.

  39. How disappointing. Prune was such a accomplishment.

  40. Whatever happened to atonement? It saddens me when progressives are no less forgiving than the religionists.

  41. She's a highly regarded talent who doesn't need him. There are a million other things she could do, so many other opportunities, etc. The only thing I can think of is $$$, but I'd imagine she could get backers if she wanted to open another spot. That's the rub here.

  42. Where were the consequences? Justice? Oh, let’s allow him to skip that. And besides, look up the definition of atonement.

  43. Have Ken Friedman and all the others actually atoned?

  44. I think its a gutsy move, to get off the sidelines of criticism and try to be the change. I hope it works.

  45. "Everyone is a better spouse their second time around."

    Nope, do not agree with that statement.

    Really liked reading her book. Hope to dine at Prune at some point when we can get away from the landowner to do list.

    Some of us figure out how to make it work the first time, despite the challenges.

  46. Thank you for saying this.

  47. her book is a mostly very self-aggrandizing. She lies throughout it much of it. Totally inaccurate portrayal of her family.

  48. Does the 'Spotted Pig' sell alcoholic beverages?

    Remove the alcoholic beverages and sell iced tea and Diet Pepsi to wash down the designer food created by the "top chef"

    See how long the restaurant stays open.

    That, in a nutshell, is the restaurant business.

    One of society's greatest scams.

  49. Okay. Maybe they will start sending food to all types of places ravaged with hunger as a first step towards redemption.

  50. The troubling part is the co-ownership. It seems if Friedman is merely hiding his crimes behind new skirt tails, still enriching himself--benefiting from his mess without doing any penance.

  51. I think it means they can't afford to buy it outright. This is business - she's doing what's best for her business interests. I don't see the problem.

  52. I've been a fan of Gabrielle Hamilton and going to Prune since shortly after it opened. But this is a really bad look. My initial guess is that the Spotted Pig (which, though now stigmatized, is in a neighborhood that is more upscale and more of a destination area than Prune's) presented a good business opportunity, and that Ms. Hamilton's statements are rationalizations. Prune has also had a relatively long life for a restaurant; the Spotted Pig move could signal that this is coming to an end.

  53. Man, people are so quick to condemn her actions as if she would actually allow the abusive behavior to continue. I see this as Gabrielle bringing her talent in to clean up this place. Bring her name and work ethic to restore some semblance of honor to this workplace (and is very likely saving the jobs of that remain). I hate that Friedman may profit from this, but get him out of the building (prosecute if necessary) and let these talented folks work in peace.

    Just give the woman a break already, and let her try to change the culture of the place. May more celebrity chefs take this as a challenge. Don't talk about it be about.

  54. With her resume and accolades she can open any restaurant she wants in NYC. Money is not the motivation here. She sees this move obviously, as a quest. I suppose time will tell if the outcome of this crusade will bear the fruit she imagines.

  55. Well, if she was misquoted or quoted out of context or her opinion on Ken Friedman was not clear, she certainly cleared it all up in her subsequent statement to Eater. The food world, writers, chefs, owners, are going to have to start talking about more important things than the food. We will miss the voice of Anthony Bourdain more than ever.

  56. The Spotted Pig? Is that a reference to Mario Batali's age spots? Which were spotted frequently when he exposed himself? The Spotted Pig indeed.

  57. I give Ms. Hamilton credit for having the courage to step into this mess and clean it up. If., Mr. Friedman gets bought out in the process then it's an even better deal. A woman understands sexual harassment better than any man. I wish her luck in making this a safe working environment.

  58. It would be interesting to see the reaction had a male chef decided to seize the opportunity as Hamilton did. She’s a genius and I highly doubt she goes in to this with blinders on or with naïveté. I watched her dispatch with great ease a vindictive NYC health inspector the morning after she won her first James Beard award. She’s certainly got this!

  59. Opportunism it seems to be, and that may turn a lot of customers off at this time. Very risky decision to sell your soul to the devil for financial gain. But then again, why would lesbian chefs looking to expand their empire care about a male heterosexual harasser with financial backing if they feel most likely they will never be a target? Yes, lesbians may be women, but since when do all women stick-up for and defend all women?

    Is this good marketing and public relations? I don't think so. I'm not a woman, and I would never step foot in any restaurant associated with Friedman, I don't care who is cooking. It's up to everyone else to decide how they feel about this.

  60. Comparing herself to Jose Andre reminds me of trumps Vietnam comment. This woman is lacking in empathy like many narcissists.

  61. Now a second and a third woman become complicit in tolerating and salvaging an abusive, overbearing man. Bloomfield turned a blind eye. Hamilton and Merriam have their eyes wide shut. The Spotted Pig should shutter and Friedman be isolated by the industry.

  62. Ms. Hamilton should think carefully before using words like " leading edge of the paradigm shift" while she is entering into business with the former owner of the Spotted Pig. It sounds so pretentious and it really badly reflects on her ethical position. Very disappointing.

  63. This shocking story made my skin crawl. Gabrielle Hamilton is by no means representing her fellow females. She is a huge disappointment who appears to only care about herself.
    I’ll eat my radishes and sweet butter at home.

  64. These women have revealed themselves as repulsive, greedy opportunists lacking any integrity. There is absolutely no need for them to boost Ken Friedman back up out of purgatory, they simply want a bit of fame and a payday (which I'm sure will be a fat one).
    I'm a chef and caterer in LA. Before Weinstein, 75% of my business was post-screening cocktail receptions for production and PR co's. I saw signs of Freidmanesque behavior everywhere, but was told by clients that it was all a (very much consensual) part of the Hollywood machine. Today, that's 0% of my business. I won't work for any of these disgusting sub-humans any more. I have no interest in making their lives better.

  65. Ugh. Your food, Ms. Hamilton, now has a bad aftertaste.

  66. Unless we know the details of these 'claims' of 'harassment' supposedly perpetrated by Mr. Friedman, and whether or not he's been 'convicted' of any such claims, we have no right to comment on Ms. Hamilton's business dealings with him.

    Enough of the 'convicting' people on mere accusations. Also as we've seen, some women are lumping 'unsolicited kissing attempts' as 'harassment', even when on a formal date with a man. Utterly ridiculous.

  67. Good Lord, apparently you didn't read the article about this reprehensible Friedman character. Bill Cosby would like to make you a drink.

  68. Disappointing. What a piece of work she is.

  69. I don't know any of the people involved here - but I find it utterly dispiriting that in 21st century America the dominant mentality amongst liberals/progressives seems to be vengeance, anger, smug pontification and virtue-signaling: all driven by the 24-hour outrage-machine known as social-media.

  70. Conservatives don't consider sexual harassment and
    compliance an issue? I feel sorry for your daughters.

  71. Criminal enterprises aren't worth saving.

  72. I’m not surprised. I’ve long wondered about her empathy - or lack thereof. The cruel experiment she describes in the linked NYT article below (hiring a blind cook), perhaps only for her own amusement, is one thing, but the fact that she decided to write about it? Well, that’s why she hired him in the first place, right? https://mobile.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/magazine/eat-memory-line-of-sight....

  73. Says more about her than I wanted to know. Not a particularly nice person and seems proud of it.

  74. It's true. She's actually a really horrible person. Plus much of her memoir was pure fantasy. She always maintains this fiction that she knew nothing about opening and running a restaurant when she opened Prune. She conveniently leaves out that her father has owned a top restaurant in New Hope, PA for many, many years.

  75. To me, this neighborhood was important because of the sleazy old jazz clubs with sticky floors, lazy attitudes, gorgeous people, and outrageously good music. Same could be said for the gay bars. It seems a little sad that gentrification has taken over to the point. It's why I don't go to New York anymore.

  76. Ick. I took my two young daughters to dinner at The Spotted Pig last summer before I knew about the rape room - which we were seated beneath...

    Hamilton comparing herself to Andres is laughable.

    Good luck.

  77. What’s on the menu?

    Self-serving agenda with a side of disgusting comparison.

    This foodie is skipping that meal and any future Gabrielle specials.

  78. Sorry, why does Mr. Friedman get a shot at redemption? Getting in bed with the devil and expecting something different to happen is crazy. You think Mr. Friedman can change his stripes so quickly? I’m not sure what’s giving you that idea or is the deal you made so rich that it is worth potentially losing your integrity?

    And I agree with all my fellow NYTimes readers that the Jose Andres comparison is beyond ludicrous.

    The food world is no different than any other business. Keep the same people at the top and the same things will keep happening.

  79. Obviously a better chef than spokesperson for her new venture.

  80. This is a prime example of when money, power, and a microscopic dose of fame go to someone’s head. Power, fame, and fortune over a sense of humanity. As a woman in the industry I am disgusted by this. It reeks of complicity and is a stinging slap in the face to all victims of sexual assault - and especially to those women assaulted by Friedman at the Spotted Pig. She should be ashamed, but based on her comment comparing her lucrative new job at her old pal’s restaurant to another chef’s genuine humanitarian efforts, I suppose I really should not be surprised by her lack of conscience.

  81. I remember seeing her in The Mind of a Chef. She prepared sweetbreads for a guest, and in the kitchen she laughed and said something along the limes of, "And a bite for the chef. That's really good. Another bite for the chef."

    She was eating food someone paid for; it really put me off. I've avoided her restaurant for that reason.

    Her justification for taking over Spotted Pig is because Friedman deserves to make a living? Perhaps he could work as a male escort for a while.

  82. I think her justification is so that the 100 employees could make a living. I think she also clearly stated that she wants to honour the work of the (female) chef that built the renown of the restaurant.

  83. I think you misunderstood the "bite for the chef" thing. She was preparing the sweetbreads for the camera and she has tons of little snacks that she makes for friends or the kitchen from off cuts and undesirable bits of the food that is on the menu.

  84. I cook for a living and would never serve someone food that I did not taste myself. How else would you make sure the seasoning is right? The most important things to do before serving food to a guest are tasting and seasoning.

  85. Good luck Gabrielle, you'll need it

  86. In the interest of transparency, she should change the restaurant's name to "Blind Pig," or perhaps "Greedy Pig." ; -)

  87. I think you win the internets for the week.

  88. From one Peter to another, thankyoh sir! : - )

  89. Based on the evidence in "Blood, Bones & Butter," Ms. Hamilton is a person who goes her own way. And, as we know, the consequences of a "damn the torpedoes...full speed ahead" attitude are the damned torpedoes themselves. As she must have known. Whatever else may happen, I can't imagine her backing down.

  90. She's alway been ballsy. Let's just see what happens.

  91. Excited to see what Ms. Hamilton does with the rape room (and how much profit Mr. Friedman will make ftom it.) Why can't this well-decorared burger joint just disappear?

  92. If you read her memoir, you should not be surprised. Why should the 100 people that work there lose their jobs. Should they tear down the place? She is coming in to take over and clean up the mess. If a man decided to do this, no one would condemn him.

    Good for her. I like her hustle and grind attitude.

  93. "If a man decided to do this, no one would condemn him."
    No rational man would do this, because only a woman could make the argument that she is doing it to be on the "leading edge of a paradigm shift."
    I am curious what role Ken Friedman will play in this shift, and will Gabrielle Hamilton be responsible, and have the right to take decisive action, if he relapses.

  94. Anyone that wants to get a Michelin star restaurant at a bargain, save jobs, keep vendors from losing business, and has the toughness to clean this mess up would take this on.

    Only someone that cannot see the forest through the trees would turn down this opportunity.

  95. Yeah but the problem is Friedman is still the owner and still going to be making millions of dollars from that restaurant. Cleaning up the mess means turning it into a slightly more ethical extremely profitable restaurant.
    In every major city, there's a shortage of good kitchen and front of house workso those folks could find jobs.

  96. I literally live around the corner from Prune, and its opening was a welcome addition to a single block that not long before boasted of having the highest murder rate in NYC. But I have never eaten there even once because I am just not a restaurant scene type of person. Nonetheless I have watched the long lines of the smart set crowd the sidewalks on weekend mornings for her celebrated brunch. Reading the bulk of the comments then, I feel a bit blasé about the high moralizing angst that the restaurant going smart set expresses over this move. It sounds to me like they are literally biting the hand that they had eagerly eaten out of these past twenty years, and that they deserve our sympathy even more than those that were victimized because of all the money they spent dining and branching at these ignominious establishments.

  97. Clearly, these two think they can turn things around should be given the opportunity too. Becoming partners puts them on equal footing with Friedman. However, one sexual accusation will ruin their reputation and a flurry of 'i told you so' will be outcome.

  98. Gabrielle Hamilton has always been an independent thinker with a healthy contempt for groupthink and political pieties, whether they be Liberal, #Metoo, or Conservative. Her rigorous, witty and honest food writing reflects this as do her menus. She's hardly the sort to condone or gloss over sexual harassment, so I think we should believe her when she says that she doesn't mean to rehabilitate Friedman in any way. She wants to rescue The Spotted Pig and its 100 employees. And why not? More power to her and her wife. And the Twitterati should prune their outrage.

  99. It's wonderful that Gabrielle is going to be running the Pig. She's going to make it a very special place, just like Prune is. Maybe it's time to think about this whole situation with a little more nuance...everything isn't as black and white as it is portrayed.

  100. Sexual assault is pretty black and white.

  101. I also live around the corner from Prune and have been going there since it opened. I won't any more, nor will I go to Spotted Pig (OK, no big deal, I don't schlep 'way over there anyway). Giving solace and cover to a grotesque sex offender is inexcusable. Well, if you're not a Republican, that is.

  102. My earlier comment either did not reach this column or it was edited out. I shall try again.
    There would be many, who would consider Gabrielle Hamilton "traitoress to feminisme", paraphrasing "the traitor to his class", as FAR was called by his conservative opponents. (I presume, they meant his social class, not his Harvard class, but maybe both?).

  103. She actually compared herself to Jose Andres? Yes, making a sexual predator money is exactly the same as compassionately feeding people that lost everything with money out of your own pocket. She is not at his level professionally much less morally. As for enabling sexual predators, she does take the cake.