Soleil Ho Continues Making Mark In Food Journalism As San Francisco Chronicle Critic

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Mike Hardin, center, reaches for a dumpling while dining with others taking a tour with Avital Food Tours at China Live in San Francisco. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
Mike Hardin, center, reaches for a dumpling while dining with others taking a tour with Avital Food Tours at China Live in San Francisco. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Update: During this hour with food critic Soleil Ho, at 11:30 a.m. ET, we took a call from someone who identified himself as "Dominic" from "Aspen, Colorado." He unexpectedly made racist comments about African-American restaurant patrons. He also claimed to be "a vice president of a chain of restaurants called Chart House."

Host Meghna Chakrabarti condemned those remarks and addressed the issue several times in the remainder of the hour.

In order to verify the identity of the caller, On Point spoke with Steve Scheinthal, executive vice president and general counsel for Landry’s, Inc., the Houston, Texas-based company that owns the Chart House restaurant chain.

"There is no Dominic that’s a vice president of Chart House, and no vice president of Chart House called. I don’t even know who this Dominic is," said Scheinthal. "This is a horrible hoax. Our organization has zero tolerance for any kind of racism. We take this seriously. It was a horrible statement that does not reflect the views of our organization."

Scheinthal said no employee of Landry’s, Inc. or Chart House lives in Aspen, and there is no Chart House restaurant currently in Aspen. The first Chart House restaurant, however, was opened in Aspen in 1961, according to the Chart House website. That location is closed. The closest Chart House is in the Denver suburb of Golden, Colorado. The restaurant chain has 26 locations in 15 states.

Landry’s has owned Chart House since 2002. Scheinthal said since Landry’s acquired Chart House, there has never been a company officer named Dominic. He’s not personally aware of any employee named Dominic.

On Point screens its callers to create the most robust hour of live conversation possible. We apologize that this hoax got on the air.

With Meghna Chakrabarti

The San Francisco Chronicle’s new restaurant critic Soleil Ho is spicing up reviews with a dash of politics. She joins us.


Soleil Ho, incoming restaurant critic, San Francisco Chronicle. Host of the podcasts "Racist Sandwich" and "Popaganda." Author of the graphic novel "MEAL," about culinary mentorship, queer romance and eating insects. (@hooleil)

From The Reading List

San Francisco Chronicle: "Soleil Ho named the San Francisco Chronicle’s new restaurant critic" — "The San Francisco Chronicle has named Soleil Ho, a nationally recognized food journalist and trained chef, to be the company’s next restaurant critic.

"'We are thrilled to welcome Soleil to the team. She was a clear choice: she has a fresh and modern approach to food journalism,' said Audrey Cooper, editor in chief of The Chronicle.

"Ho is known for her insightful, thought-provoking commentary and deep culinary knowledge. Her influential writing has appeared in national publications such as The New Yorker, GQ and Eater, and she has gained a following with her podcast, Racist Sandwich, that explores the lines between race, class and gender. Ho launched the podcast in May 2016 with co-host Zahir Janmohamed."

Washington Post: "San Francisco Chronicle hires writer and ‘Racist Sandwich’ podcast host Soleil Ho as its new restaurant critic" — "Soleil Ho, a Vietnamese American food writer and podcaster who has explored such issues as cultural appropriation, bro culture and race, will be the next restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, the newspaper announced Wednesday.

"Ho will replace Michael Bauer, the Chronicle’s venerable though sometimes controversial critic who retired after 32 years on the job. Ho’s editor expects her to shake up not only the type of restaurants under review but also how they are reviewed.

"Paolo Lucchesi, the Chronicle’s senior editor for lifestyle, which includes food coverage, said the paper’s editors 'wanted to see how we could push the genre forward,' which explains, in part, why they selected a writer who covers food through the lens of culture, race and gender instead of someone already employed as a restaurant critic.

"'We had so many great candidates, and I think she has this unparalleled combination. She’s a great writer, in and of itself,' Lucchesi said during a phone interview with The Post. 'She’s a cultural critic already. She’s already changed food journalism in so many ways in America, and I’m excited to see how she will continue to.' "

Eater San Francisco: "New SF Chronicle Critic Prepares to Take On Bay Area Food Scene" — "Ho hasn’t been in the Bay Area long, but she mentioned already eating at Dyafa, Reem Assil’s Middle Eastern restaurant in Oakland; Slanted Door ('I do prefer the little Vietnamese restaurants, no offense to Charles'); and Beauty’s Bagels ('pretty good').

"She’s definitely not bothering with the anonymous thing. 'I am a millennial and I’ve been on the internet for 15 years and it’s really hard to cover up my tracks at this point,' she said. 'It’s out there, my face is out there.'

"She loves regional Chinese cuisine, especially Xian-style food, which she finds 'really compelling and delicious. I just love a wheat bun.' "

Brian Hardzinski produced this hour for broadcast.

This article was originally published on December 20, 2018.

This program aired on December 20, 2018.


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