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Mon 26 Nov 2018 10:36 AM

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Food blogger defends controversial review in clash with chef Izu Ani

Food blogger Samantha Wood has denied that a review of GAIA in DIFC - which led to her being banned from the venue - was 'personal'

Food blogger defends controversial review in clash with chef Izu Ani
“As with any review, many people agreed with Matt’s experience, and some disagreed. Izu was gracious with all the commentary,” she added.

Food blogger Samantha Wood has defended a review which led to her being banned from well-known chef Izu Ani’s restaurant, calling it an “honest portrayal of the dining experience” at GAIA restaurant in DIFC.

The review, which was written by guest reviewer Matt Broderick but was commissioned and published by Wood on her webite, Foodiva, described GAIA as being “Fawlty-esque”, in reference to the poorly run hotel featured in British sitcom Fawlty Towers.

Following the review, chef Izu Ani banned Wood from his restaurants and said the negative review was “personal”. He added that he’d had a previous clash with Wood after she demanded thousands of dirhams to include one his other restaurants, Carine, in her ‘Dine Around Dubai’ experience that she offers to customers.

In a response sent to Arabian Business sister publication Caterer Middle East, Wood said she believes that many of Ani’s statements about her were “factually incorrect” and defended Broderick’s review.

“His review shares negative yet objective and constructive feedback of his experience, as well as a number of positives,” she said. “My role as an editor is to make minor style edits if required without altering any of the facts….impartiality is what I thrive on, and honest feedback is essential for this industry to mature.”

Wood added that Ani thanked both her and Broderick for the review on Instagram, “and even shared some banter in the comments.”

“As with any review, many people agreed with Matt’s experience, and some disagreed. Izu was gracious with all the commentary,” she added.

Additionally, she denied Ani’s allegation about demanding money to include Carine in her dining experience for customers, and noted that another of his restaurants, La Serre, was featured in an itinerary earlier this year.

“I am at a loss as to why he deems this review personal. In my opinion, the only thing that is personal is his reaction to this review,” she said. ““As I have expressed on a number of comments on social media, Izu is a talented chef so I wish him and his ventures every success. I do have one question for him before I sign off, would he please clarify if the ban applies to solely Gaia, or his other restaurants where I am a regular customer, like Lighthouse?”

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