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January 23rd, 2008 WW Editorial Staff | Rogue of the Week
 

Stu Stein

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Plagiarism can really ruin a meal.

Just ask the furious foodies and bloggers at portlandfoodanddrink.com about Stu Stein , the chef and owner of Terroir Restaurant and Wine Bar on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. They’ve collected another heaping round of allegations that Stein is plagiarizing websites and newspapers to find blurb-ilicious content for his own upscale Northwest restaurant’s website (terroirportland.com).

And their record shows he didn’t steal any old junk. Among many outrages, he looks to have plagiarized two of the nation’s most prominent restaurant critics—The New York Times ’ Frank Bruni and the San Francisco Chronicle ’s Michael Bauer—in hyping his own eatery.

One description on Terroir’s website nearly matches two sentences from Bauer’s 2006 review of a restaurant called Terzo. (To see that comparison and many more, as chronicled by WW critic Heidi Yorkshire and reported on portlandfoodanddrink.com by local writer Kevin Allman, see below or go to portlandfoodanddrink.com.)

“That’s funny,” Bauer told the Rogue Desk. “I guess I’m ambivalent. I mean, it’s very lazy and very unprofessional on his part.”

Stein didn’t return messages seeking comment, and his representative at Randall Public Relations didn’t either. The kerfuffle is just the latest serving of plagiarism accusations against Stein. As a guest writer for the Ashland Daily Tidings , in 2005, Stein was caught copying portions of Tami Parr’s Pacific Northwest Cheese Project blog. That same year, a news editor removed his radio show, Sustainable Kitchen, from Jefferson Public Radio after listeners said Stein’s commentaries mirrored material in blogs and food reviews.

Stein later moved to Portland, opening Terroir in June .

“That’s doubly egregious,” Bauer said when told that history. “I can see why people are so mad.”

From the “about” section of Terroir website’s:

“It’s a copasetic blend of good design and focused intent.”

And: “A place that will convince you that small plates, civilized dining and reasonably priced food can coexist.”

»From Bauer’s June 2006 review of Terzo in the San Francisco Chronicle :

“Terzo is perfect for its Cow Hollow neighborhood, with a copasetic blend of good design and focused intent.”

And: “Terzo has renewed my enthusiasm, proving that small plates, civilized dining and reasonably priced food can coexist.”

Terroir’s site states that they “play [sic] clean, pure homage to nature’s remarkable bequests,” exactly the words used by New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni to describe chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Well, almost exactly the words: Rich wrote “pay homage,” not the nonsensical “play homage.”

»Seattle Times wine critic Paul Gregutt wrote that the expression of terroir comes “from an ongoing process of discovery, stewardship and passionate art,” a sentiment also found on Terroir’s own site.

»As Cascadia restaurant in Seattle describes itself on its own website, it is “a respite from the elements when cloudy and cool, a celebration when sunny and warm,” and “a place to enjoy the company of one or to share with many.” So says Terroir.

»At North Pond restaurant in Chicago, “We believe it important to link concern for sustainable cuisine to the pleasures of everyday fine dining.” They think the same thing at Terroir...exactly.

»At Taste restaurant, in the Seattle Art Museum, “We believe that we have the power and responsibility to make a true difference.” Terroir does, too.

 
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