We, the owners, management, and employees (our “family”) at Indigo Café and Catering in downtown San Diego would like to take a few moments to respond to the recent review of our restaurant in the April 15 issue conducted by Ms. Naomi Wise. We found this review to be offensive, inaccurate, and unprofessional.

Before attending to the multiple mistakes made by Ms. Wise regarding our California-Cajun menu options, we would first and foremost like to address the offensive tone and culturally sensitive content featured in Ms. Wise’s critique. Her review began with an assumption — that upon first glance, our cook “looked more likely to be from Nuevo León,” Mexico, “than from Nuevo Orleans,” but she “didn’t yet lower [her] expectations.” Is this comment necessary? What does ethnic background have to do with cooking abilities? Moreover, it is impossible upon first glance to tell the ethnicity or cultural backgrounds of any San Diegan, and this cultural stereotype is neither appreciated nor taken lightly by our staff or our regulars. Although Ms. Wise does suggest that “good cooks can easily learn other cuisines,” it is inappropriate and borderline racially discriminatory to suggest that ethnic background can be determined by looks alone, and therefore that any expectation of food quality should be lowered or questioned. Our staff is highly trained in the art of California-Cajun cuisine, and our cooking staff has taken personal offense to the judgments asserted by Ms. Wise.

Ms. Wise also felt comfortable making several corrective suggestions regarding our menu selections. We stand behind our food 100 percent and have operated for ten years within the San Diego community with great success. Never on our website, nor in our restaurant, do we claim to offer authentic Louisiana cuisine, nor authentic Creole, nor authentic Cajun. Rather, we pride ourselves on our ability to offer a California-Cajun-inspired menu, one that celebrates the delicacies passed along through Louisiana recipes and culture. By definition, the word “Creole” (coming from the Latin word Creare) means “to create.” Creole food is the creation or evolution of cultures and cuisines that have inspired recipes from the South for decades, and we in California continue to “create.”

Ms. Wise also states that “somebody got their recipes crossed,” and we are afraid that has been Ms. Wise! Our jambalaya is tomato-based, made with thick Andouille sausage, the description that Ms. Wise gives of our gumbo; and our gumbo is roux-based, the description Ms. Wise gives for our jambalaya. We do not prepare our jambalaya with a roux base, nor do we prepare our gumbo with a tomato base. We understand that everyone has different and unique food preferences; however, Ms. Wise was clearly confused which items she was in fact critiquing. These were not her only mistakes — our Cajun Pesto Pasta does not feature “shrimp” nor any type of seafood, nor does it contain “mozzarella” (rather, Parmesan cheese), a claim made by Ms. Wise; we do not serve 1000 Island dressing on our Po’ Boy Sandwich (1000 Island contains relish, our homemade sauces do not); we do not feature a “chipotle aioli,” rather a chili aioli made from scratch.

Calling out our staff’s professional experience, specifically our owners’, by questioning “have the owners never heard of cookbooks? For a few bucks’ investment, the kitchen could get some education” assumes that our owners are inexperienced and uneducated. Rick Trevino, owner and chef, is a graduate of the San Diego Culinary Institute, and his outstanding talent and creativity earned him the Peter Metz Award — clearly he has read a cookbook or two. While we do not argue that each individual maintains their own food preferences, we strongly stand behind our expertise and our recipes and believe that each one, upon critique, should be reviewed professionally.

Given the current economic climate, when “mom and pop” businesses strive to bring in new business, we cannot help but assume that the harsh tones in the article were meant to hurt both our employees and our business. We question whether Ms. Wise, having accumulated a bill that included seven mixed drinks and a bottle of wine, was qualified in her judgments to write such a mean-spirited review. Perhaps her cocktails contained more alcohol than she thought (our sweet cocktails disguise a powerful punch).

The tone, verbiage, and overall connotation of Ms. Wise’s critique were personally offensive to our staff and attacking on many levels. However, despite Ms. Wise’s attempts to paint a negative portrait of our restaurants, our local patrons have responded with generosity and concern. Their utter disbelief that someone with professional credentials and community influence would write this critique has strengthened our bond as a “family.” We appreciate the opportunity to express our feedback and thank you for your time and consideration.

Rick and Tiffany Trevino
Gretchen Vedder
Owners
Indigo Café and Catering

Naomi Wise responds: In today’s climate, any mention of race at all seems to translate instantly into “racism” for those who are looking for it. Hell, everybody knows that in San Diego, Latinos make up most restaurant kitchen staffs at every economic level, and as I mentioned in that review, any good cook can master another cuisine. (Off the top of my head, I’ll cite Tijuana-born Damaso Lee, famed for his Italian cooking at Trattoria Acqua.) Only, somebody’s got to teach them, to make that happen. (Whereas, if the cook behind the counter were a born Louisianan, s/he wouldn’t need any instruction from the boss to correct the cockamamie recipes that shaped the food we ate there.) I’ve spent a lot of time in Louisiana (mainly New Orleans, but also some in “Cajun Country”), eating happily, and have been cooking this cuisine at home for some 30 years. (I also collaborated with “Queen Ida” Guillory, zydeco accordionist, on her cookbook for Prima Press, Cookin’ with Queen Ida.) The essential problem at Indigo is that almost nothing has the authentic taste of Louisiana! It’s fine to do “creative” versions of this cuisine (as, for instance, Susan Spicer does), but Indigo’s dishes seemed deracinated — Louisiana ingredients assembled in very non-Louisiana ways.

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Comments

Dorian Hargrove April 28, 2010 @ 1:45 p.m.

"I was one of the physicians caring for Dorian...It is clear he is and probably always was an insecure, angry, and self-absorbed person...He comes across as an immature, careless person."

Dr. Shiny Black Shoes is that you? Must be. You know doctor, (showing my maturity by not typing out your real name), I might be an angry, insecure person, and my judgement may have been off but doctor you forget one thing; I had a traumatic brain injury and I was two days out of a coma. What's your excuse? Maybe I was in better condition than I thought, even with a head injury I could see the type of person you are.

As for the rest of the staff at Alvarado Hospital, they were great. And as for the doctors and nurses at Scripps; they saved my life. The therapists at Sharp; they informed me about my injury. You did nothing.

Oh, and once my insurance handles all of my claims, the check will be in the mail. Buy some new shoes or something, anything to distract people from seeing the person you are. Thanks for the confirmation, doctor.

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HonestGovernment April 28, 2010 @ 2:33 p.m.

To Dr. What-an-Insult: Wow, it is totally shocking that you would respond so cruelly to Dorian. Disregarding your strange comment, "I am unsure I have ever been paid", your personal attack on a patient is unprofessional and really, really, unbelievably off the mark. I can't imagine that Alvarado's board would agree that you should have submitted in writing these hurtful accusations. I will write the hospital board and suggest that they evaluate your behavior.

You could have taken the opportunity to apologize to Dorian for any perception that you weren't meeting his needs, and you could have explained why he might have felt that way and how you really felt (well, I guess we do know the latter, now). You, the supposed un-brain-damaged professional, should have been the one to recognize that the wrong chemistry existed between you and your patient. YOU should have helped Dorian to access a physician with whom he felt comfortable.

Having worked inside a hopital as a professional, I know what everyone knows: (1) being a patient almost always has its horrible moments and experiences, and (2) hospital personnel are a mix of the good, bad, and ugly. And sometimes they hate patients on sight, and patients sense it.

Further, everyone knows that doctors don't have the time, nor do many have the personality, to interact with every patient successfully. It is inevitable that the wrong chemistry will pop up between doctor and patient, and part of the doctor's duty is to recognize this and to help redirect the patient.

Shame on you! Sorry, Dorian. You and Aimee don't need this kind of ugliness in your lives. Just chalk it up to living in the real world...LIVING, thank goodness!

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SDaniels April 28, 2010 @ 2:51 p.m.

Uhhhhhh, what's up, doc?

You know, I am not even sure this is serious--the writer does not demonstrate the kind of intelligence one might expect from the incisive mind of a physician--there is a lot of careless repetition of subjects, as though this person hasn't been that familiar or comfortable with a pen--much less a surgeon's knife.

Dorian has a literacy-challenged enemy of some kind, with extremely poor taste. That's about all you can gather from this--a "hit on the medical community?"

Come on. Wacka wacka, doc!

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HonestGovernment April 28, 2010 @ 3:28 p.m.

^ Agreed. And if it is real, repeat: whacked.

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poohburr April 28, 2010 @ 4:38 p.m.

In response to 'Doctor' Shiny Black Shoes, your letter in regards to Dorian's article is nothing more than proof of the arrogance that looms above your head. At all times, especially with a recovering patient of severe traumatic brain injury such as Dorian's, I believe a doctor should show compassion towards all patients, this including patients already released from the facility. To even mention not having 'been paid' is a reflection of what your sole motive is in your profession, to make money... to get by with your job and bring home that sadly earned bacon. Your part in this article was minuscule in relation to the bigger picture this article is trying to convey and if you can't get your self to see that, even to just obtain a glimpse of it, then oh well, more accidents and brain injuries for us, more money for you right? Regardless of what the reality was and how you were portrayed in this story, hundreds of lives were saved in the past week that this issue of The Reader was out, and many more will continue to be saved thanks to the courageous effort of the author to write this story. It was hard to read and I could only imagine how hard it was to live it then relive it in words. Thanks for being an inspiration to us all Dorian.

To the comments about the graphic nature of the cover: you wrote in didn't you? Another impact has been made. Kudos to The Reader and amazing job on the photography Aimee.

-Erny C.

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magicsfive April 30, 2010 @ 9:05 a.m.

RE: What An Insult

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

if you really are a doctor, which i suspect you are NOT, i am pretty sure it is some sort of a HIPAA violation to even come here and discuss his patient care...at all. it was his choice to share his ordeal with everyone. and for you to come in here and trash him...HOW DARE YOU?!? why don't you state your name, DOCTOR, so i and everyone else may avoid your services at all costs. doctor, my fat ass. you sicken me.

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magicsfive April 30, 2010 @ 9:13 a.m.

...and RE: Disturbed:

Seriously? after all this young man has been through and was courageous enough to tell his story, you are "Disturbed" by a photo of his head injury?? where is everyone's compassion? you should be shouting praises that he is alive and giving words of encouragement for him. christ, wtf is wrong with you people? why don't you, like, stop reading the reader, like, write something contructive, like...

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nan shartel April 30, 2010 @ 1:35 p.m.

the doc is being petty in some ways but

i think DorianH has no idea or empathy for all that medical personal do to save lives and especially his life

his recovery is quite remarkable...but without all that were involved with his care he wouldn't be here to tell us all about it

guess u can tell i worked in hospital 30 years eh ;-)

believe me i've known arrogant physicians i would have like to take out back and horse whipped...but if i needed their specialty because of the type injury i had they could act like horses a*sses all day long and i would have still opted to have them on my case

bless u for ur story Dorian...it was a very brave thing to do ..and a pic too

continued recovery mister and blessing

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magicsfive April 30, 2010 @ 4:12 p.m.

i hear what you're saying, nan. but i am a nurse too and many times it is a thankless job..don't get me wrong, i don't ever expect thanks, i LOVE what i do and like you, have met many arrogant a**hole "doctors" like this, more than i care to remember..but to come here and complain about a patient when all he is doing is telling his story and trying to heal, inexcusable, inappropriate, unprofessional.. i really do wish he would identify himself so that everyone could avoid being stuck seeing him. just saying.

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Dorian Hargrove April 30, 2010 @ 6:17 p.m.

Nan,

I appreciate the comments, but keep in mind my life was saved by different doctors and nurses at a different hospital. The doctor I had my issue with is the head of the rehabilitation institute at Alvarado, my second hospital after awaking from the coma. He never saved my life and had nothing to do with my rehab.

And trust me, I appreciate everything that everyone did for me. I don't, however appreciate someone just because they are doctor, especially one with a horrendous bedside manner. Just had to clarify. Thanks.

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SDaniels April 30, 2010 @ 7:22 p.m.

Exactly. Let's not let this blow out of proportion. If you read the actual piece written by Dorian, there is no "hit on the medical community," and actually very little mention of even this doctor. Read the piece in its entirety before you comment.

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CuddleFish April 30, 2010 @ 8:25 p.m.

I agree. Dorian took a dislike to one particular doctor, not the entire medical profession, which he resolved by asking for a change of doctors; he discussed this situation as one part of the whole ordeal he went through. Should he have not talked about it? I think the doctor took on significance due to the circumstances, and therefore I feel it was appropriate to discuss in the article, which Dorian did, with honesty. If nothing else, he has a right to his opinion.

Does the doctor have an equal right? I think perhaps not an equal right to express it: Do no harm. Keep your highly paid trap shut.

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NotQuiteADiva May 2, 2010 @ 11:46 p.m.

I am amazed! Amazed by Dorian’s story, and amazed by the responses to it…

First of all, Doctor Shiny Shoes is the lowest and least that I care to respond to. Frankly, it surprises me that our medical system doesn’t produce more of his ilk. Yet consider the medical educational process that aspiring doctors go through. Most people could not even imagine how tough that is! It’s a wonder to me that anyone can survive it with their humanity intact... That being said, what annoys me more are the ones complaining about the cover. Open your eyes to the reality of life! He had part of his skull removed!! That’s what it looks like, you twits!!!

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Shotgun Shela April 22, 2012 @ 9:15 p.m.

I'm HAPPY yer alive and recoverin Dorian, and proud to call you friend!

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