Review: The Braiser

Thus far, Dan Abrams’ “The Braiser” is an utter failure.

Dan Abrams, the mastermind behind such popular sites as MEDIAite, GossipCop and The Jane Dough, recently ventured into the realm of celebrity chefs when he launched “The Braiser.”  According to their web site, “The Braiser is here to bring the personalities behind the food you eat and love (or hate!) to the forefront. What we eat, where we eat, and how we eat it is a focal point of how we define community, family, and culture in this country and around the world. And the people who help us do that are going to get our attention — though some, obviously, much more than others.”

Verena von PfettenThe first problem with The Braiser is the staff.  Editor-in-chief Verena von Pfetten was a blogger and associate editor for Huffinton Post.  She was also Sr. Editor, Lifestyle and Entertainment at Air America media.  Before coming over to The Braiser she held the same position at, another Abrams concept.  Do you know what’s missing from her resume?  Anything to do with food.  But that’s OK, she doesn’t need to know anything about the culinary world as long as her writers do.  Right?

There are but two writers, I’m sorry “associate editors” for The Braiser, Mariella Mosthof and Tina Nguyen.  Mosthof was a gossip columnist for a site called (I know, I’ve never heard of it either).  From what I can tell that is her only Mariella Mosthof previous job.  What is obvious by some of the statements Mariella has written for The Braiser is that she tends to be a bigot.

In a recent piece about a beer vendor at the Iowa State Fair who lost $25,000 in sales because an impromptu visit from President Obama shut his tent down for two hours Mosthof justified the lost revenue by saying, “You know who would have been bad for beer sales? Mormons.”  Abrams should fire her on the spot for that one comment.  Additionally, what has this got to do with celebrity chefs?  More on that later.

Tina NguyenThe other writer.  Opps, I did it again.  The other “associate editor” is Tina Nguyen.  Nguyen actually has a good deal of experience compared to Mosthof.  Not real world experience mind you but more than her counterpart.  Tina has been a technology reporter at The Daily Caller, student phone room manager at Claremont McKenna College and a summer intern at Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates.  Again, not a hint of culinary background.

So here’s the staff of The Braiser in a nut shell – a fashion blogger, a gossip columnist and a student phone room manager.  No media or culinary credibility among them.  Is it any wonder that no one is reading this site?  There isn’t an ounce of credibility to its staff.

That’s why when I ask a celebrity chef if they saw the article about them on The Braiser they always say, “What’s The Braiser?”  That’s a huge clue to the success of the site, the people it’s about don’t read it.

The stats on their Facebook page tell the story.  The Braiser launched with a lot of fanfare.  That yielded them better than 50 new Likes a week.  The past few months they’ve been lucky to pick up 25.  The “People Talking About This” stats reflect that drop as it has gone from over 200 a week to half that now.

One reason for the waning interest may be that there seem to be a lot of misleading or grossly exaggerated headlines to some of the video clips they take from around the web.  Like “Mario Batali Recounts His Revenge On ‘Heinous D*ckhead’ Marco Pierre White.”  The headline makes it sound like Batali schemed for weeks or enlisted ninjas in order to give White his comeuppance.   But when you watch the clip the gist is Marco threw hot beans on Mario so Mario ruined White’s pan of sauce with two handfuls of salt.  Meh.

Or “Daniel Boulud Snaps At Savannah Guthrie Over Gravy Insult On Today.”  If you watch the video you’ll see that when Guthrie calls the sauce “gravy” Boulud merely offers, “But not really a gravy.”  Perhaps the headlines are intended to be snarky.  Well, to qualify as snarky they have to be funny.

The Braiser LogoYet another reason that no one is reading The Braiser is the content itself.  It does not “bring the personalities behind the food you eat and love (or hate!) to the forefront” as the web site states.  There are hardly any celebrity chef interviews, no insider information and very little original content.  Most of their copy is just rehashed articles from Eater, Serious Eats or Chow or are merely press releases.  Clearly there is nothing wrong with getting some of your content that way but all of it?

Furthermore, nearly a third of the content has little to do with the world of celebrity chefs at all but is spent trying to re-elect President Obama.  If the President has Bobby Flay cook dinner at the White House then that belongs on the site.  But pieces like the previously mentioned article about the President’s visit to a beer tent in Iowa simply constitute campaigning, that’s an ethical issue.

And that’s why it all comes back to the staff.  The Braiser is yet another site with a staff that wishes they wrote for Politico or Drudge Report.  But here’s the deal with Politico and Drudge – though they both have clear political leanings they are usually honest with their reporting.  You don’t see nearly as many agenda-driven articles from them as you do say NBC, CNN or Huffington Post. . . or The Braiser.  They save their opinions for columns, like they are supposed to do.

Though they may be talented this staff does not know their subject matter nearly as well as their target audience.  That’s a recipe for failure.  The potential of The Braiser is substantial but currently it is not living up to that potential.  Though they may not need to replace the entire team they definitely need to bring in someone with some experience and credibility in the culinary world.  Perhaps someone celebrity chefs have actually heard of.

I’m available.  Just sayin’.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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