FOR a self-confessed humble chef who simply just wants to cook, Gary Usher certainly knows how to inspire a social media shitstorm.

To be fair, Chris B, Trip Advisor Level 6 contributor, does sound like a bit of a twat

We reckon he could ‘unwittingly’ cause a riot in a graveyard for deaf and blind Buddhist monks, but that’s only if someone rudely criticises his food, his restaurants or staff on a public platform. Anyone who dares to do that will get the full force of his wrath; a response akin to the way a wolf would treat a sheep if it was stupid enough to wander into its territory.

Usher manages to inspire almost unparalleled levels of devotion on Twitter, even from those who have never eaten in one of his three restaurants; Sticky Walnut in Chester, Burnt Truffle in Heswall or Hispi in Didsbury. It was down to this following and his mastery of ‘modestly aggressive’ marketing that he managed to inspire strangers, journalists and fans alike to crowd fund two of his restaurants. Perhaps that’s why everybody is so quick to join in his outrage and back his putdowns. Many take it personally.

Usher (right) and his brigadeUsher (right) and his brigade outside his award-winning debut restaurant, Sticky Walnut

Usher’s popularity is not just down to his turn of phrase. His online style is peppered with self-deprecating humour bordering on despair which gives an insight into struggles felt by many who work at the coal face of the restaurant industry; long hours, struggles to maintain staffing levels and the ease by which two-faced serial complainers can post unqualified responses on popular review websites rather than simply addressing any issues at the time of visit.

He can also cook, which is the bottom line. Reputable critics and influencers have collectively swooned over his British bistro cooking, his perfectly wobbling custard tart and his evenly risen focaccia. His years of experience have given him a sound pedigree and Twitter followers can regularly follow his ‘bants’ with highly esteemed fellow chefs, national food critics and editors of leading industry publications.

Although he has been known to take constructive criticism on the chin, albeit in a somewhat self-despising, faux hand-wringing way, Usher’s hatred of Trip Advisor is well known. He even tagged them into a photo of him burning his 2013 Certificate of Excellence.

His latest furiously measured response to a recent complaint on the site (in full below) has now hit the local and national newspaper headlines with the Daily Mail Online, the Metro and the Mirror praising his tirade as being the 'perfect response'.

.Burnt Truffle opened in Heswall last year following a successful crowdfunding campaign

To be fair, Chris B, Trip Advisor Level 6 contributor, does sound like a bit of a twat, but his pompously negative review has incurred a characteristically disproportionate whirlwind of outrage and shaming. Chris’s account of his disappointing experience has been widely picked apart in more detail than a pre-election debate. His grammar has been scorned, his overuse of exclamation marks has been laughed at and his self-satisfied and out-dated opinion that ‘the customer is always right’ no matter how mis-educated, has been vilified.

You can see from Sticky Walnut’s Twitter timeline that Gary Usher is positively revelling in the fight against Trip Advisor. He maintains that sales of paté – a starter much criticised by Chris in his ‘report’, have gone ‘through the roof.’ I suspect that serial complainer Chris B (who has taken the time to spew out 105 reviews, winning him 42 badges and 13000 points) also lives for the attention. A mention in the Daily Mail must be the equivalent of striking gold, bringing him as much joy as a freebie meal would.

However, are Chris B and millions of similar online critics entitled to a negative opinion without the risk of being subjected to character assassination and generally being bullied by the masses, or do online reviews, blogs and comments on public forums mean that you’ve stepped in the ring and must risk the whirlwind?

Chris B's TripAdvisor review in full:

Chef Gary Usher's response in full:


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