We’ll See You In Court: Georges Perrier vs. StaphMeal

On September 5th, new Philadelphia restaurant gossip site StaphMeal.com appeared on the scene. And since then, they haven’t made many friends. The bloggers (we use “bloggers” plural because they claim to be more than one person) have recently taken aim at the generally beloved Marc Vetri (including some seriously low-blow mockery of his speech impediment), chef-without-a-restaurant Shola Olunloyo and Le Bec-Fin’s Georges Perrier, calling him a racist among other things. And they’ve done all of this from behind the cozy shield of internet anonymity.

Frankly, we weren’t going to mention the site at all because, well, it was just a bunch of mean-spirited, poorly punctuated ranting and the internet is already full of drivel like that. But now things have gotten a bit more interesting.


Earlier this week, Vetri himself publicly called out @staphmeal via Twitter: "Stop your hurtful nonsense now or you will be outed. Try and create something positive." Subsequently, StaphMeal's Twitter account was suspended--a decision that the creators say they are appealing. (They've since opened another.)

And then today, Perrier's attorney, Jonathan M. Cohen, told Foobooz that legal action against the blog is imminent. "There's a lot being done in the background here to find out who these people are, hiding behind the anonymity of the blog," he reported. "I don't expect them to remain anonymous for long, let me put it that way."

But the creators--one of whom I interviewed today over Gmail Chat--don't seem to be concerned. "We are not worried about legal issues," wrote one. "A. We have a pretty good attorney. B. To unmask a anonymous blog takes a lot almost a legal act of god."

As for the bloggers' identities, commenters have accused two individuals of being behind the site. When I brought up those names during the interview, I was told, "we don't even know who the hell those people are! We do think though that it sucks for them. I think who ever made that accusation without valid proof is an asshole."

Attorney Cohen seems confident about the outcome: "It's a pretty clear cut case of defamation--they are basically admitting to malice," he says. "Their intention is to hurt people. That's it. They claim to have legal counsel and, if so, it had better be pretty amazing."

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  • no

    Cool, I’ve never even so much as heard of this staphmeal.com until the lawsuit was filed. Somebody please tell Perrier and his attorneys to google the phrase “Streisand Effect.”

  • Annie G

    Making fun of someone’s speech impediment, instead of noticing their awesome cooking, is the work of an ass-hat. Frankly, it only serves to remind me what a good time I had at Osteria – maybe it’s time to go back!

  • Annie H

    Annie go to Olive Garden. Same food at a third of the price.

    Osteria is good but not that good.

  • lilpit

    Annie H, stop trolling. Vetri’s a dick, but his food is good.

    As for Staphmeal, they haven’t yet struck against a “good guy”. They might be hyperbolizing a bit, but all the people they’ve posted on sorta deserve a kick in the ass.

  • lilpit

    I mean, really – Shola & Perrier? They’re going after the low-hanging fruit here.

  • staphmeal

    What exactly is an ass-hat?

    • http://jcoadyjr@gmail.com A Boss

      You.

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    I don’t think the person behind staphmeal is going to like how this turns out. Beyond having their ass kicked as soon as their identity is revealed, I’m sure the libel suits will keep that pathological liar broke for life. It’s not legitimate journalism and a freedom of speech defense will not hold up in court. No way.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudologia_fantastica

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    The only future that blog has is reviewing prison cafeterias and the cuisine of solitary confinement, including the ‘disciplinary loaf’.

  • staphmeal

    Right MrOpinionator….

    Because the jails are just PACKED with people found guilty of defamation

  • Staphmeal Rocks

    Staphmeal is refreshing and needed. Too much fake PR hype from Profile Public Relations about restaurants makes me sick. It’s nice to hear some truth.

  • Staphmeal

    Of course I’m only doing this as a joke. That’s why I’m going to get away with it, because it’s just a prank, I get lonely sometimes.

  • staphmel

    oh my, we now have impersonators….we’re honored

  • Staphmeal

    The least you could do is spell it right, you imposter/troll.

    “oh my, we now have impersonators….we’re honored”

  • rory

    yay, staphmeal and foobooz, together at least. uggh.

  • mike

    @MrOpinionator – the first amendment applies to everyone and not just journalists, so I have no idea what you are talking about.

    It is really hard to win a libel case against a public figure. Perrier has to prove that they acted with actual Malice, which is not just that they wanted to hurt Perrier as suggested by the lawyer, but that they either knew what they printed was false or were reckless as whether or not it was truthful. So assuming that the supposed second-hand sources exist and are not crack addicted homeless people, I don’t see how Perrier has a chance.

  • Snake

    Seems like maybe Georges and Vetri should have just ignored them and I bet this would have just died on the vine. I’ve never heard of this gossip site before today and articles/posts making fun of speech impediments certainly give me no reason to go there.

  • MrOpinionator

    Mike and Staphmeal-

    You are both right, nobody goes to prison for libel here in the USA. Such profound knowledge you possess.

    Hey Mike, if the person behind Staphmeal reveals their identity, then perhaps they can make a claim to being a public figure and even pretend they are a journalist.
    Right now it seems like we have a private citizen attacking a public figure with an anonymous ‘blog’, but it’s really nothing more than an advanced form of trolling.

  • rory

    Here’s the basic anti-staphmeal strategy: out them. and then good luck keeping a job in the industry, here or outside of philadelphia, and good luck getting decent service at good restaurants. the industry generally seems to protect its own.

    lawsuits do so. anonymity is their only refuge considering they’re basically poorly-written, (sub?)consciously racist themselves (the Shola post), outing nothing shocking (servers do coke? restaurant workers are often mean as hell?), and a cheap unfunny imitation of Bourdain’s old shtick that’s already tired and he at least had the balls to write it using his own name. oh, and they’re spam twitters, that’s how they built any knowledge of their dumbass project.

    the real shame is that there’s a lot of insider stuff to the industry and to philly’s scene more specifically that would make up a cool blog. a shame that’s not being posted and this is.

  • mike

    @MrOpinion

    The issue is not whether staphmeal is a public figure, but whether Perrier is. Whether staphmeal is anonymous or not has nothing to with libel. Being a troll is not illegal.

  • http://foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    Mike -

    I was just teasing you. Your quote “It’s very hard to win a libel case against a public figure” implied that it was the ‘public figure’ being sued. I know what you actually meant.

  • rory

    the public figure component doesn’t matter much as “public figure” only adds the bar of “intending malice” to the libel/slander and staphmeal clearly meets that threshold (and, in fact, is proud of that).

  • mike

    @MrOpinionator – Sorry for misunderstanding you. I meant to say it is hard for a public figure to win a libel case.

    @Rory – I don’t think you know what intending Malice means with respect to libel. It doesn’t just mean that you intend to do harm to their reputation. It means that when you wrote you either actually knew or really should have known that what you wrote wasn’t true.

  • staphmel
  • chesschamp

    The internet and newspapers have incorrect information published daily. The old saying, “Don’t believe everything you read.” would apply. Couldn’t someone be sued for defamation writing false information on all the rating sites that are out there? Yelp? City Search? Urban Spoon? These people are anonymous too and spread false rumors and information by the use of these sites. The more attention everyone gives these folks fuels and perpetuates the egos of the writers/bloggers. And look, FOOZBOOZ finds it interesting and now I am reading this article on FOOZBOOZ and commenting. So I guess it’s the American way – freedom of speech..let’s move on. The internet gives everyone with a connection an instant voice – be that good or bad. One has to be self-informed and educated beyond these blogs or you are just sheep believing everything you read.

  • Laila Left The Biz

    Busting on someone’s speech impediment may be a low blow, but what is wrong with calling out some of the insane behavior that goes on in restaurants? Perrier DID have a law suit brought against him by SEVERAL employees. This is on record. And what of the other foodie sites? If someone posts a negative review on Yelp should they be sued? C’mon. Maybe if there is a chance of getting publicly called out on their bad attitudes and violent outbursts the crazy chefs and owners will be a bit more human.