Her trendsetting, cocktail-slinging mini-empire includes the Atramentous Hoof, Rhum Corner and anon Blah Gardens. She didn’t get area she is by arena nice. Accommodated the abundantly talented, occasionally aboriginal Jen Agg
Jen Agg is bedeviled with grey. “As a colour and a mindset,” she says. Practically aggregate in her west-end home is a bluish grey: the furniture, the accents, the walls. Best days, she wears jeans and heather-grey V-neck tees—I saw her bend at atomic 20 of them while she accomplished her laundry during our aboriginal interview. And, in befitting with her predilection, her aing big adventure is a restaurant alleged Blah Gardens, debuting this bounce in Kensington Market. For all of its cutesy picklers and bakeries and taquerias, the bazaar has yet to acquaintance the affectionate of dining bang that adapted Dundas West aback Agg opened the Atramentous Hoof in 2008. That’s about to change.
Grey Gardens will be a wine bar with an aing restaurant on Augusta Avenue, and she’ll banal accustomed wines and adorned amoebic ciders from bounded breweries, best of it a ordered. Aloof as she already declared bourbon the new vodka and rum the new bourbon, cider will be the new rum. “The abode is congenital in my head,” she says. “Every detail. I agnosticism it’ll change too abundant from what I already see.” Followed by: “Goddd, I’m insufferable.” Blah Gardens will no agnosticism allure curve agee about the block. She could accessible a restaurant that alone served cane-sugar affection candy, or had an adult-sized animated alcazar in the backyard, or featured annihilation but an abandoned allowance corrective grey, and it would still be the aperture of the year.
When it comes to restaurants, Jen Agg seems to accept analytic powers: every few years, she reimagines the way we eat and booze in Toronto. Aboriginal she fabricated Prohibition-era affair cool, absolution us from the chains of appletinis and stoking an appetence for amber liquor at Cobalt, her ’90s bubbler aperture on College. Afore you could get an eye-glazing manhattan at the Cineplex VIP, Agg was bond her own violet syrups and tobacco tinctures, applying the aforementioned rigour to her drinks that chefs exercise on their plates. Afresh came dining: at the Hoof and its accessory restaurants, Rhum Corner and Cocktail Bar on Dundas West, she created the deceptively effortless schematic that is now all-over in Toronto—the angular allowance and skinnier accessible kitchen, the aerial service, the chalkboard airheaded and snackable administration plates. Anniversary time she declares a trend, Toronto diners—and added restaurateurs—trail her with slack-jawed reverence. And it’s not aloof city art kids who appointment her restaurants. Foodies expedition bottomward from Thornhill and Brampton, Rosedalers skip Scaramouche for a bowl of horse tartare at the Hoof bar, and celebs like Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay and Justin Timberlake stop by aback they’re in town. Agg, who is 40, has the able adeptness to accomplish adolescent bodies feel adult and earlier barter feel cool. Her authority is area they accommodated in the middle.
Agg’s acclaim has as abundant to do with her acceptability for bluntness as her comestible clairvoyance. Aback added bodies alarm her a bitch, she skewers them. But she uses the characterization herself, to accost its power, aberrant it into her agitator persona and redefining it on her own terms. She’s a feminist bitch, demography pugilistic aim at the ism women face in the restaurant industry. She’s a cool-girl allegation who does shrooms and swills booze with her staff. And, according to her critics, she can be a beggarly bitch, sniping at her colleagues, her reviewers and alike her barter aback they piss her off (which is often).
Agg’s Twitter handle is @TheBlackHoof, but it’s absolutely a claimed account—a active bubbler of snark, screeds and aeon jokes. She doesn’t see any acumen amid her clandestine activity and her business. She wields the caps-lock key like an advance rifle, peppering tweets with advancing block letters. It’s a mirror of how she speaks in absolute life—sarcastic, voluble, volatile. “If Jen could allege in all caps, she would,” says David Greig, the administrator at Cocktail Bar. He pauses for a moment. “Actually, she does. It’s alleged shouting.”
Agg congenital her band of personality on Twitter, area she has about 12,000 followers. Best bodies use 140 characters to ability brittle bon mots; Agg’s tweets accept a aberrant beat-poetry affection to their agitated emphasis and abbreviations and ellipses. They’re all in chat with anniversary other, talking about wine, about restaurants and, best often, about feminism. Aback The Walrus’s editor Jonathan Kay went on the CBC to abutment men’s rights activists accepting allotment on campus, she howled, “My accomplished activity I’ve been condescended to by boring, narrow, apparent men aloof like Jonathan Kay. It’s not antipathy I accept for them, it’s pity.” She alleged out Bon Appétit editor Adam Rapoport as “incredibly adulatory and tone-deaf” afterwards he commented on a podcast that bodies don’t eat during appearance anniversary (he blocked her that day). In November, she active and answer a address to save her acquaintance Sam James, the café owner, from boot on Ossington (it failed, but not for Agg’s abridgement of effort). She feels things acutely and expresses those animosity effusively. Her acerbity alike extends to customers: “Dear (almost) anybody in actuality appropriate now,” she tweeted already from the Hoof. “Please, amuse stop actuality such a douche.”
There are aloof a scattering of changeable controlling chefs in Toronto, and alike beneath changeable restaurateurs. Agg has emerged as one of the alleged few, and she believes that she has a albatross to allege out, no amount how abounding bodies she bulldozes forth the way. She’ll cheep her all-caps advertising until her fingers blister. And she shows no assurance of slowing down.
Despite her amalgamation with capital cocktails, Jen Agg’s accurate affection is wine. She consumes three or four glasses a night and claims to never get bashed (if she does, she hides it well). She drinks added white than red, added rosé than white, and prefers blue accustomed wines to chemically candied ones. She puckers her face into a scowl if she encounters a atom too abundant oak or acerbic or jamminess. Alike afterwards eight years of restaurant ownership, she still weighs in on the Hoof’s wine list, swapping bloviated wine-speak for offbeat, Aggian tasting notes. “Just like your favourite ombré beef tee, this rosé has summer accounting all over it,” she quipped about a French grenache-syrah blend. Whether you acquisition her descriptions absorbing or annoying is a acceptable way to admeasurement your Agg tolerance.
Last fall, Agg hosted me at her abode for an interview. I capital to accompany a canteen of wine and spent 20 annual artifice at the LCBO afore clearing on a sparkling rosé from a winery I knew she agitated at the Hoof. She accustomed me into her house—but scrunched up her face aback I handed her the bottle. “I should aloof acquaint you that I abhorrence sparkling wine,” she said with a laugh. “Better I acquaint you than be affected about it, right?” Okay, then.
Agg and her husband, the artisan Roland Jean, alive in a semi aloof off of Dundas West, a two-minute airing from her restaurant row. It’s the architectural agnate of Mary Poppins’s carpetbag: from the outside, it’s bashful and squat, but central it opens up into an aerial mid-century marvel, styled with a amphibian staircase, Saarinen abyss chairs, low-slung sofas and beaming paintings by Jean.
Agg is alpine and loping, with blowzy amber bristles that avalanche center bottomward her aback and a connected Modigliani face. At rest, it conveys a accustomed nonchalance, but her appearance ize into new shapes with every absolute emotion: a arced smirk, a arrant grin, a aerial eye roll. Best of the time, she’s friendly, funny, alike affably conspiratorial. Say the amiss thing, and her boring ossifies into an chill blaze that makes you feel abate than an insect. It’s that anticipated alternation that makes Agg so adamantine to pin down. She exhibits an enviable self-confidence, yet she’s acute to any and all criticism. She scrutinizes every Internet animadversion and bad restaurant review, and responds atrociously aback she feels attacked. And while she’s a nuanced thinker, she can be a bullish communicator, carrying her bulletin with the bluff of Kanye West.
For the accomplished year, Agg has spent her weekends in Toronto and her weeks in Montreal, area she and Jean are alive on addition new restaurant in affiliation with Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne and Win Butler. The adventure of how they all met is the actuality of burghal bogie tales: one day, Chassagne and Butler alone by Rhum Corner with the indie violinist Owen Pallett. They admired the strings of acceptable ly lights, the mural of a nude Caribbean Venus collapsed on the beach, the animate boom playlist and the amaranthine agitate of rum slushies. The leash drank a charlatan ship’s annual of El Dorado rum and accursed Creole rara music on the speakers. Aback the stereo blew out, Butler and Chassagne banged beats on the table application their cutlery and baptize glasses. The Arcade Fireists were so absorbed by Rhum Corner’s Port-au-Prince agreeableness that they emailed Agg two canicule afterwards and asked if she capital to accessible a agnate abode with them in Montreal. Agrikol, amid on Amherst Street in the village, is alleged for a blazon of French-Caribbean rum.
When she’s not alive on her new restaurants, Agg is at the Hoof, or Rhum Corner, or Cocktail Bar, bubbler rosé at the bar. She directs her restaurants like cine sets, training her hipper-than-thou agents on absolutely how loud to bellow the Stone Roses soundtrack so a date-night brace can apprehend anniversary added but not the bodies aing to them, and how low to dim the lights so they brighten the diners’ faces in the best adulatory way. (She’s bedeviled on lighting—during one of our interviews, she agitated with the dimmer in her active allowance for about 10 annual afore she landed at the appropriate wattage.) She hates what she calls the octopus grab, area a server snatches an abandoned wine canteen from the top. She forbids her agents from cutting aroma or allurement if you’re “still alive on that” or pretentiously cloudburst baptize with one arm tucked abaft their backs. “I appetite my restaurants to be islands of loveliness,” she tells me. “None of that academic shit.” She brags about the ahead of her palate, and by all accounts it’s no exaggeration. David Greig told me about the time he put an added baptize of cardamom in a canteen of alloyed tequila and served it to Agg in a cocktail. “There’s way too abundant cardamom in this,” she told him flatly, sliding the booze aback over the bar. “I couldn’t aftertaste the difference,” Greig says. “It’s fucking annoying.”
Agg rolls her eyes at everyone—her husband, her staff, her friends. The alone actuality who is allowed from her analysis is her father, David, who has Alzheimer’s. Agg’s mother, Phyllis, died of branch abortion aftermost year at age 70. Agg had an arcadian ancestors activity growing up. She was built-in in 1975; her brother, Jon, accustomed seven years afterwards (he now runs a acreage administration aggregation in Scarborough). They lived in a 1970s-era bungalow on the bend of the Rouge Valley. Her ancestor is still there (though the abode has back been renovated), amidst by chambermaid caregivers. Agg describes her adolescence cocky as an abusive brat. “I accept a approach that bodies don’t change much,” she says. A academy advice advocate already told her parents that her bull personality ability announce she was a , and that they should be concerned. “I was advantageous I had parents who encouraged my individuality, who never fabricated me feel like I had to be addition else.”
When Agg was 16, she larboard home and confused into a abode in Scarborough with three 18-year-old girls while she connected to appear aerial academy (she paid hire application abundance cheques). The abode was a hot blend of keg parties and acerbic trips and boys and . Her parents were devastated. “I’ll consistently feel accusable about affliction them, but they couldn’t accept a beneath bourgeois way of living.”
In her chief year, a acquaintance told her that Toby’s, the fratty pub at Bay and Bloor, was hiring bartenders. She got the gig, and, afterwards a few weeks, her bang-up beatific her to assignment abandoned in the admiral bar. She’d advertise $1,500 annual of beer by herself, authoritative up to $200 every about-face with tips.
When Agg was 18, she enrolled at U of T and majored in English but abdicate afterwards two years. “I’ve consistently been acutely accept with bottomward out of university. I did not affliction for it. I was annual all those books anyway. I was like, I got this,” she eye rolls. Anon after, she met her aboriginal husband, Tyler Taverner, a 24-year-old server who looked like a adolescent Chris Noth. Aural two months, she and Taverner confused in together. Aural five, they were married. She additionally upgraded from her job at Toby’s to a bartending gig at Souz Dal, the flouncy cocktail bar on College. “There were a lot of girls in sequinned acme and boot-cut jeans. It was like, ‘Woo, cosmos!’ ” she squeals in a acute Sex and the City falsetto.
Driving home one night, she saw a storefront on College, ahead a bar alleged Lola’s, up for lease. Agg and Taverner took it over in 1998 and adapted it into Cobalt, the cutest hobbit aperture in Little Italy. Agg refinished the old beer fridge while Tyler congenital the tables by hand. The place, outfitted with candlelit alcoves, was a honey pot for alum acceptance and affair kids on their way to a night out at the Midtown.
At first, Agg served the aforementioned creation and ’tinis she’d abstruse to accomplish at Souz Dal. Occasionally, though, addition would appeal a archetypal cocktail: an old fashioned, a sazerac, a body reviver. Agg ample out how to adjudge aback the drinks had been appropriately mixed, to boggle with the temperature, to accomplish abiding there was aloof abundant acidity and acerbic and booze (she won’t accomplish a booze with beneath than two ounces of liquor; she prefers three). It was during the Cobalt years that Agg able the art of bond a manhattan. “It’s the ideal cocktail. I’ll never get annoyed of it,” she gushes. “The vermouth cuts through the whiskey, so you can get a lot of booze into you absolutely fast.” There was boilerplate in Toronto to buy affection bitters at the time, so Agg fabricated her own, infusing rye with cloves, biscuit and allspice. She additionally activated lots of liquors for the base, clearing on 10-year-old Alberta Springs rye and the oaky Carpano Antica Formula vermouth that she alien from Italy (you can now buy it at the LCBO). These days, she additionally ages her manhattans in oak barrels for weeks at a time, and plunks in a brace of her own marinated acerb cherries, steeped in rye with absinthian almond tincture, caramelized amoroso and spices.
By 2006, business was dwindling, and so was Agg’s marriage. She still speaks able-bodied of Tyler but explains that they were bigger accompany than lovers. So she bankrupt Cobalt and afar him. She backward in their abode and took on attached to accomplish the rent. She’d been distinct for four months aback she wandered into Cocktail Molotov, a grotty dive in the Dundas West amplitude that currently houses the Atramentous Hoof. She sat bottomward at the bar and noticed a alpine man in his 50s with aphotic skin, a alpine acme of blah curls and a Vandyke bristles that looked like a loofah puff. It was Roland Jean, who endemic the abode at the time. “I wondered who she was staring at,” he tells me in his apathetic Haitian accent. “My acquaintance said it was me, and I said ‘Get the fuck out of here.’ ” Ten annual later, Agg and Jean were authoritative out at the bar.
Jean, who is now 60, comes beyond as quiet and abrupt at first, but afterwards a few glasses of rum or wine—he hates cocktails—he mellows into a benevolent storyteller. Jean grew up in the French Quarter of Port-Au-Prince. His ancestor took off aback he was young, abrogation his mother, a Creole chef, to accession four kids on her own in a two-room shack. Jean capital to be an artisan and, as a teenager, got a job at an absolute bi-weekly cartoon political cartoons. In his 20s, he activated to a cultural barter affairs in Canada and chose to achieve in Moncton for its francophone community. He affiliated a bounded woman and anchored his abiding residency; they had two kids, Ilsa and Dominic. In 1982, he started cartoon political caricatures for the CBC.
When Jean and his aboriginal wife afar in the backward ’80s, he confused to Toronto, area he transitioned from cartoons to louche pop art paintings that depicted women’s aperture splattered with berry and atramentous characters in whiteface. This was about the time Basquiat bankrupt out, and Jean rode the Haitian wave, announcement his assignment at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Smithsonian. He affiliated a additional wife, with whom he had addition son, Jamal, and calm they bought a architecture on Dundas, which they adapted into a architecture flat alleged Cocktail Molotov. Jean would buy $5 stainless animate bowls and acclimate them into repro mid-century avant-garde continuing lamps, which he would afresh advertise at New York architecture shows for $500 apiece. By 2004, Jean and his additional wife were separated, he’d angry his flat into a bubbler hole, and he was active in the accommodation upstairs.
After their antecedent assignation, Jean and Agg fell into a accelerated romance. They affiliated in 2009, and Jean’s youngest son, Jamal, confused in and lived with them part-time. Jean’s alert assets buffs bottomward Agg’s edge; aback she reacts with critical outrage, his calmness calms her down. She talked about Jean with the affectionate of asthmatic collapse you ability acquisition in a Brontë novel. “It’s an abnormally adventurous relationship,” she sighed. “It makes me catechism my feminism because I get so abundant backbone from accepting addition who believes in me, who supports me, who’s admiring to me. He gives me armour to booty on the douche-s on the Internet.” Jean was a little added succinct. Aback I asked him to acquaint me his favourite affair about Agg, he said, with a smirk, “She’s a acceptable fuck.”
Two years afterwards Cobalt closed, Agg was fed up with the city’s Waspy dining scene, its aggregate attraction with admixture and cream and formality. She capital to accessible the affectionate of abode area she could abrasion Converse and T-shirts, area she could comedy the Pixies and Jesus and Mary Chain. “A huge botheration in the aliment industry,” she says, “is that owners think, What do the bodies want? I think, What do I want? It comes off as arrogant, but it’s not.” She’d eaten charcuterie at the Montreal brasserie Au Pied de Cochon and absitively she capital to be the one who brought it to Toronto.
Jean awash the Cocktail Molotov architecture to advice armamentarium Agg’s restaurant, and the new owners agreed to hire them the basal floor, which already had a bar and a liquor licence. In 2008, no one was authoritative charcuterie in Toronto—except for Grant van Gameren, a self-taught meat adept who was experimenting with his own soppressatas, prosciuttos, salamis and claret sausages as a sous-chef at Lucien. He’d already able 20 varieties of charcuterie and was acquisitive to accomplish more. So aback Agg acquaint a Craigslist ad gluttonous a charcutier, van Gameren leapt at the opportunity. They entered into a affiliation and calm put $80,000 into the restaurant. By October 2008, the Hoof’s doors were open. By November, lineups were addition bottomward Dundas.
The Hoof’s seismic success owed as abundant to timing as it did to the affection of the aliment and atmosphere. The recession was at abounding tilt. White tablecloths and $30 entrées seemed tone-deaf, if not absolute insulting. Agg and van Gameren offered affordable booze, snackable plates and low-budget decor. Agg outfitted the amplitude with vintage-looking dupe and tchotchkes. There were three cooks alive a four-burner stove instead of a abounding agents and kitchen. And van Gameren’s compact card acclimated up every ounce of the animals he cooked: he served pig’s arch tacos, argot pastrami sandwiches and luges of cartilage marrow, which you were meant to absorb like an ability from the shell.
Over the aing few years, the Hoof’s access trickled outward, catalyzing a full-fledged accidental dining anarchy in Toronto. Restaurants like Beast and Enoteca Sociale and Marben put sweetbreads on the menu. Parts and Labour became accepted for a pig bowl of belly, foie gras and ear in trotter sauce. All over town, bodies mimicked the Hoof’s artfully decrepit allowance and the easygoing service, the sharable card and indie soundtrack cranked aloof aerial abundant to cushion you from the alfresco world. Agg and van Gameren banned to booty reservations, which angry into a d of craven to see how connected diners would delay on the biting sidewalk for a table.
Neither of them brand to allocution about their breakup, but Agg says that she and van Gameren had a agitated partnership. In 2011, Agg bought van Gameren’s allotment of the business, and she went into amplification mode. She opened Cocktail Bar, a Midnight in Paris fantasy of wrought iron, leaded canteen and aged tin. The afterward year, she took over the amplitude aing aperture to the Hoof and angry it into Raw Bar, a Cape Cod–style angle berth that was one of the aboriginal restaurants in Toronto to activity seafood charcuterie. It bankrupt in beneath a year. Agg places the accusation absolutely on the Globe and Mail’s review, which acclaimed the allowance and the drinks, but accursed the food.
She still gets formed up about that. “The kitchen may accept fucked up the night [the critic] visited, but it additionally beyond my apperception that maybe we got a harder time because of who I am.” She believes that her success in the industry fabricated her a target, and that acknowledgment cuts to the body of her barbed temperament: she disguises her airiness in the accent of barbarous self-possession. For all her bluster, Agg takes every insult personally, internalizes every abrupt critique. But aural three months, aggressive by her husband’s ancestry and rum’s beginning cachet as the new contemporary spirit, she had adapted Raw Bar into Rhum Corner. Jean brought his sister over from Haiti to advise then-chef Jesse Grasso how to baker djon djon rice and alkali cod patties.
Between the Atramentous Hoof and Rhum Corner, Agg employs seven cooks, two of whom are women. She has formed with four controlling chefs; so far, they accept all been men. She says that while she’s a backer of women captivation chief positions, she doesn’t accept in quotas and insists on accepting alone the best bodies assignment in her restaurants. Aback she hires a new baker or server or bartender, she doesn’t interview. Instead, she invites them to assignment a paid about-face or two so she can appraise them in action. Often, they’ll never apprehend from her again. Agg believes this is how she becoming her acceptability as the restaurant world’s Maleficent. “I don’t apologize for my behaviour, and that’s why bodies anticipate I’m a bitch,” she says. And to some extent, she’s right.
In the aftermost decade, chefs accept undergone an existential crisis. Already they were models of propriety, accepted for their punctilious plating, affected white straitjackets and active management. Afresh Emeril Lagasse came along. And Mario Batali. And Gordon Ramsay. In 2000, Anthony Bourdain appear Kitchen Confidential, glamorizing the alarm of the restaurant apple the way Apocalypse Now glamorized the Vietnam War. He wrote about cutting heroin and amusement coke on the job, about bearding in the backyard beside the restaurant, about the baneful yet blood-tingling atmosphere central the kitchen. Suddenly, at atomic in the accessible imagination, chefs were bedrock stars. “Don’t get me wrong, I adulation Bourdain,” Agg says, “but that book gave chefs a licence to be dirtbags. It perpetuated the abstraction that it’s all about bubbler and accepting laid.”
In June 2015, Kate Burnham, a above pastry chef at the schmoozy King West alehouse Weslodge, filed a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, alleging abiding animal aggravation in the kitchen. Over the advance of a year and a half, Burnham said, macho cooks had affective her s and genitals, apart her bra, angled her from behind, and alleged her “dyke.” As Burnham’s adventure went viral, added and added women took to amusing media with belief of apparent aggravation and assault. Ivy Knight, a Toronto biographer who abdicate affable bristles years ago afterwards a decade in the industry, talks about actuality shut in a applicant fridge by a chef who afresh pulled out his penis and wagged it at her. Once, while alive as a band cook, she told her macho sous-chef to fuck off. He airtight her up adjoin a adverse and afraid her. “I don’t apperceive if he’d accept done the aforementioned affair to a man. I was bristles bottom three and 95 pounds, so I apperceive he wasn’t afraid of me,” she explains. Aback she appear the adventure to her boss, she was told to blot it up.
A few of the changeable chefs I batten to declared a anatomy of Stockholm Syndrome—they didn’t apprehend kitchen ability was so baneful until they’d able it. Like abounding women in male-dominated fields, they acquainted they had to adapt, that this was normal. “The cerebration goes that you can’t exhausted ’em, so you accept to accompany ’em,” Knight says. “You’re assertive if you accuse that some chef slapped your ass, you’ll be labelled a .” Léonie Lilla, the above chef at Farmer’s Daughter on Dupont, believes the ability of abhorrence and aggravation is not a gendered issue. “Chefs will scream at you during your shift, afresh buy you a beer. That’s the way it is. You accept to accord with it or get out.” Agg argues that this affectionate of cerebration demonstrates a angled internalized misogyny. “Older women in the industry generally say, ‘I had to boxy it out, I had to go through this shit, so should you.’ That’s not helpful!” she tells me, her articulation rising. “Why the fuck should you accept to do that?”
When Agg apprehend about Kate Burnham’s experience, she got mad. She had been talking about ism in restaurants for years, so while she was abashed by the allegations, she wasn’t shocked. What affronted her was the blackout she perceived from added chefs and owners. Her acerbity metastasized over the aing brace of days, and her Twitter followers watched it advance in absolute time. “A lot of us assume to accede that the machismo-soaked ‘leadership’ performed by SO MANY chef-bros is THE WORST. WHY does NOTHING EVER CHANGE???” she tweeted. “Snicker, complain about what a crazy allegation I am GO AHEAD I don’t accord a FUCK,” she wrote the aing day.
Agg says she has never been ually addled at work, but she’s additionally her own boss. “I don’t accept the affectionate of personality that invites that affectionate of behaviour,” she says, and pauses. “Not that I’m adage added women do,” she adds carefully. Aback she heard about Burnham’s suit, she absitively to do article about it: she organized a appointment alleged Kitchen Bitches at Revival Bar on College, and arrive changeable chefs and cooks to allotment stories. She ample if bodies started talking about aggravation and ism in the kitchen, they’d be one footfall afterpiece to endlessly it. Best of the restaurant workers I batten to were captivated about the event, praising Agg’s aplomb and persistence. But a few told me they anticipate she’s activity about it all wrong. One chef argued that by threading the chat “bitch” into her branding, Agg is assiduity the abstraction that it’s accept to use aspersing language. Addition said Agg had no appropriate to allege out on annual of chefs aback she has never formed in the kitchen. A brace insisted that her activism seems advised added to draw absorption to herself than the issue.
They ability accept a point. At her best, Agg is a acute apostle who uses her allure to get bodies onside. She has wit and aplomb and ascendancy in an industry area best women don’t allege out because they address to macho employers. She is able-bodied accepted in the Toronto comestible scene, and absolutely the best apparent woman. And best of the time, she uses her admiral for good. She afresh wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that eloquently and foolishly declared the misogynistic bane of kitchens. There are times, however, aback she gets so bent up in her bulletin that her address hardens into rigidity, her abuse into dismissiveness. It isn’t productive, for example, to assail one bearing of changeable chefs in adjustment to deliver another, or to agglomeration every tattooed macho chef into the aforementioned Neanderthal underclass.
On the asleep TV alternation Hannibal, the titular aborigine had a motto: “Eat the rude.” Jen Agg has the aforementioned aesthetics aback it comes to her customers. Her Twitter annual is a feminist foghorn, but it’s additionally area Agg calls out bodies who insult the servers or affront at the offal-heavy menu. “When bodies see the charcuterie, they’re like, ‘That’s aloof cafeteria meat, I could buy it at Loblaws!’ ’’ she says, in a faux beef that sounds unnervingly like Estelle Costanza. “Do they apperceive how abundant time and money and man ability and woman ability went into this dish? They can fuck off.” She rarely berates barter in person—shaming them on the atom would agitate anybody else. But on Twitter, she lets loose. Aforementioned goes for aback she’s ashore abaft a apathetic mover at the grocery store, or built-in aing to a nose-picker on the streetcar. “I don’t affliction if my Twitter annual alienates people,” she told me. “If it alienates you, I don’t appetite you there.”
Agg claims she’s abandonment her attack into activism, that she can’t handle the time and activity it takes. I alarm bullshit. Aback you’re Jen Agg, there’s no such affair as retirement. She may not adapt any added conferences, but she’s proselytizing in every added way that counts—on podcasts, panels, amusing media. And in the fall, she’ll absolution her aboriginal book, a sprawling account about her ancestors and restaurants and feminism that she wrote on the alternation amid Toronto and Montreal. It’s alleged I Apprehend She’s a Absolute Bitch.
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