Sunday is usually a day off for chefs but much of the Dallas restaurant community was working hard on March 1, checking the Instagram feed of Austin chef Gabriel Erales, of acclaimed Austin Mexican restaurant Comedor.
In behavior unusual to the food & beverage world, Erales called out a Dallas chef and his food writer girlfriend for stiffing a server and exhibiting a sense of privilege.
Erales posted a receipt from a meal showing a reservation made at Comedor by Taylor Adams with a note beneath her name that said "Food Writer for Dallas Observer, dining with Peter Barlow, former Head Chef of Stephen [sic] Pyles Fauna."
The receipt was for $49.39, and the tip line had been X'd out, with a note written by Barlow at the bottom that said, "Gabe, you should be here! THX."
The other image Erales posted was apparently a text from Barlow. It said, "Also we paid 49 dollars for 2 shitty cocktails and a crudo we didn't eat. Amazing. As a winner also of Texas Monthly best, I expected a lot more. Also your caliber of Attention was missed. This trip was based to see you and eat. Fucking major dissatisfaction. I had better with tacos last time. This sucks. Cool too because I'm with Dallas observer editor."
Erales explained in a comment that he'd gone home early that night to spend time with family.
"Three years ago when I was working in Tulum I got a message from the Head Chef of Stephen Pyles' then-new restaurant Flora Street introducing himself and telling me that he was coming to eat with Chef Pyles and his girlfriend. He then asked if I could arrange a stage for the two of them for the day of their dinner. Not knowing him and only assuming character based off the accomplished and respected Chef Pyles who in fact paid for my culinary school, I arranged it."
"Fast forward three years and this same Chef comes to our restaurant, then storms out because I was not there to 'style' him out and treat him like he is a celebrity," Erales continued. "He then stiffs our server and proceeds to send me insulting messages about our restaurant and the food via IG, yet he only ordered one item. I’ve never encountered a Chef that felt so privileged to insult a team because they did not get treated like they were celebrities. Sorry I missed you at the restaurant @elchefpeter! I left early to spend the Saturday night with my kids. I hope your night got better."
The post attracted comments from numerous chefs including Dallas chef Matt McCallister, who called Barlow "a piece of shit," as well as Pyles himself, who threw Barlow under the bus, saying, "I have been the target recently of Peter's wrath as well, and it is indeed unpleasant. I'm sorry this happened to you."
Barlow was part of the chef team at Flora Street Cafe when it opened in 2016. It closed in January 2020. Barlow has since been doing pop-ups and has plans to stage at restaurants in Europe this spring.
In response to Erales' comment, Barlow doubled down by posting a photo of what he said was himself handing a $100 bill to the manager. "No waiteress [sic] stiffed," he said. "But we did pay 149$ for terrible time. (12 minuets there total) Didn't eat or drink a drop. I took this pic in hindsight. Just so you know. No need to bash further in posts that's immature @comedortx."
The original Instagram post continued to draw more comments, criticizing Barlow's behavior. And then Adams posted a comment, stating that Barlow's behavior "does not align with my values," and that she had broken up with him.
Not long thereafter, Barlow changed his tune and became contrite.
"Fueled by emotions and alcohol, I was completely and utterlly, a ticking time bomb," he said. "I'm owning those mistakes and making amends."
All within the time span of a few hours.
One day and 358 comments later, no chefs have come to Barlow's defense. One commenter wondered if it was appropriate for Erales to air the beef online, but that comment disappeared.
Barlow and Adams were already dating before she was hired by the Observer in July 2019, so it doesn't seem to have presented a problem to the editor of the publication, despite the fact that it's considered a conflict of interest to be involved with someone you may write about, and can lead to situations exactly like this.
Since Adams has been hired, Barlow's name has appeared in the weekly's food coverage 17 times, including a story about a trip the couple took to Santa Fe in October 2019.
Then again, this is the Dallas Observer that recently published a Top 100 restaurants list riddled with errors, including wrong chefs and one restaurant that was closed, which they called a "glitch."