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Defending English

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / May 11, 2011

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Some of the biggest names in the restaurant community are heaping scorn on Boston magazine for its takedown of Todd English. “It’s a vicious personal attack that was most unnecessary,’’ says Summer Shack’s Jasper White, who joined Davio’s owner Steve DiFillippo in drafting a letter of complaint signed by virtually every bigshot chef in the city. At issue is a mock break-up letter from the city of Boston to English that appears in the new issue of monthly mag. “Basically, things aren’t working out the way we’d hoped,’’ it reads. “You’re simply not the chef we fell in love with back in 1984; in fact, we sometimes wonder whether you even like cooking anymore.’’ The piece goes on to rehash English’s well-documented legal issues, restaurant closings, and relationship drama. DiFillippo, who’s been a friend of English’s for many years, said he was “freaked out’’ by the negative tone. “Yes, Todd’s had some problems, but he’s a friend and a colleague and I’m going to stand up for him,’’ he said. White called the piece “dirty journalism,’’ adding that “Boston magazine has written articles about Whitey Bulger that have more compassion.’’ Likewise, Scampo’s Lydia Shire said the article is a “low blow’’ that overlooks English’s skills as a chef. Boston magazine editor John Wolfson defended the piece yesterday, saying the monthly was “trying to have a little fun.’’ He said DiFillippo and White’s letter will run in the June issue. “I think we have a good relationship with the dining and restaurant community,’’ said Wolfson. “I don’t begrudge them their feelings.’’ In an e-mail statement yesterday, the embattled English said he appreciates the support. “I want to send heartfelt thanks to all of my friends, colleagues and patrons for their support in this instance,’’ he wrote.