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The Chefs/Cheftestants of Top Chef

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Had my Zoom cooking class with Nini yesterday. Made Banh Mi. Nini was super friendly and knowledgeable, just like she is on the show. There were about 25 people on so you don't really get much one on one time with her. Some of the people on the call had taken classes with her before. We were mostly on mute so we could follow her instructions but she encouraged us to ask questions. We made an aoli to go with the sandwich and it's made with an immersion blender. I don't have one of those so she also showed us how to make it by hand with a whisk. At the end I unmuted and said I couldn't believe that I made it. She said she was excited that I was able to learn a new technique. The Banh Mi was delicious. All in all, I thought it was a great class and I'll definitely try another one of hers in the future. They do seem to sell out pretty quick. She also introduced us to her dog and he was adorable. 

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So many Top Chef people in the Food Network Tournament of Champions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by HyeChaps · Reason: typo
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Brooke Williamson (winner of the Charleston season and second place finisher in the Seattle season) is competing in Tournament of Champions on FN (which she won last year, but I somehow managed to miss even knowing it existed).  In last night's episode, she won her first round match to move on to the quarter-finals.  Every time a chef wins a round, they get to choose a restaurant to receive a $10k donation from the show (to help during the pandemic).  Brooke selected Ms Chi, which is Shirley Chung's restaurant (Shirley, of course, being the one Brooke beat in the Charleston finals, and the third-place cheftestant in the New Orleans season).

Antonia Lofaso also competed last night, beating Brian Malarkey (thank you, Antonia!). 

As note upthread, there are a lot of TC alumni in the tournament; both Voltaggio brothers and Tiffani Faison are also still in it. 

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Just binge watched this (nothing new cuz of covid!) and i have to say, i really liked brooke in her first season.  This season i was just really underwhelmed, and by the finale what really showed was her lack of creativity.  no doubt she has mad technical skills and can execute, but as they always stress on top chef, i never got her 'point of view' as a chef.  wish shirley had done just 10% more on the finale, i think she could have had it.

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(Deleted because I basically said what Bastet did two posts above and I completely overlooked!!!)

Edited by Harry24

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On 3/10/2021 at 6:16 PM, HyeChaps said:

https://press.discovery.com/us/food/press-releases/2021/cliff-crooks-puts-struggling-chefs-through-th-5375/

Maybe that why Cliff got a spot on Food Network Tournament of Champions.

 

My probably unpopular opinion (so please don’t throw rocks at me) is that I think he was somewhat unfairly made the primary — read: only — fall guy for Marcelgate. 

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1 hour ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

My probably unpopular opinion (so please don’t throw rocks at me) is that I think he was somewhat unfairly made the primary — read: only — fall guy for Marcelgate. 

This times a thousand.  Direct any rocks my way as I don’t believe it was ‘somewhat unfairly’ it was straight up unfair.  They were all in it together. 

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They were able to make Cliff the fall guy because he laid hands on Marcel. And that's crossing the line. Not that the others all deserved to be thrown out. As was noted, they all were in on Shavegate, and Tom wanted them all gone.

 

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4 hours ago, Ellee said:

This times a thousand.  Direct any rocks my way as I don’t believe it was ‘somewhat unfairly’ it was straight up unfair.  They were all in it together. 

I stopped watching it on a regular basis that season...

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On 4/1/2021 at 6:49 PM, xaxat said:

He didn't win, his first restaurant failed,  but Kwame Onwuachi might become one of the most influential contestant ever.

'Top Chef' Star Kwame Onwuachi Scores Cameo in Biopic on His Life Starring LaKeith Stanfield

I. Can’t. Wait. For starters, I absolutely LOVED his book. Plus, no pun intended (and I hope I’m using term correctly) I have stanned LaKeith Stanfield ever since I saw Short Term 12 when it was first released. 

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1 hour ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

I. Can’t. Wait. For starters, I absolutely LOVED his book. Plus, no pun intended (and I hope I’m using term correctly) I have stanned LaKeith Stanfield ever since I saw Short Term 12 when it was first released. 

I've only seen him in a few things (Get Out, Selma, and Knives Out), but liked him in all of them.  I haven't read Kwame's book yet, but I know the basics of his life and activism, so I'm excited about the film.

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Nelson and Byron are collaborating on an eight-course tasting menu event with cocktail pairings at Nelson's Oakland restaurant/cocktail bar Sobre Mesa. I'm a local, so I’m cheering for Nelson this season.

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7 hours ago, caitmcg said:

Nelson and Byron are collaborating on an eight-course tasting menu event with cocktail pairings at Nelson's Oakland restaurant/cocktail bar Sobre Mesa. I'm a local, so I’m cheering for Nelson this season.

It must be a thing, tasting menus and popups, for this season's crew because last night I came across this. Such a cute cartoon drawing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNShtLWg5hJ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

eta oops, the instagram link is to Shota. He is doing a popup with Byron and Sara. 

 

Edited by stewedsquash · Reason: forgot to give context for link
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1 hour ago, stewedsquash said:

It must be a thing, tasting menus and popups, for this season's crew because last night I came across this. Such a cute cartoon drawing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNShtLWg5hJ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

eta oops, the instagram link is to Shota. He is doing a popup with Byron and Sara. 

 

It makes sense, given that a lot of restaurants are still closed, or doing limited business.  

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Well, I’m excited to see that Cliff Crooks is hosting a new show, Chefs Boot Camp, on Food Network. Looking forward to adding this to my summer-light watch list! 

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Joe Sasto is doing a Zoom cooking class for our company later this month.  I wasn’t a huge fan of his during his season.  He’s going to do homemade pasta, which I also find kinda boring, but I’m still looking forward to it.  Not sure if this was his call or the woman who drives the “culture committee”.  

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And I want to go on the record saying that I'm fine with Gabriel, but that I'm SO tired of the big deal that others are trying to make of it since I love Maria, Dawn and Jamie as well. It is what it is.

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59 minutes ago, The Solution said:

And I want to go on the record saying that I'm fine with Gabriel, but that I'm SO tired of the big deal that others are trying to make of it since I love Maria, Dawn and Jamie as well. It is what it is.

Ha, I am right there with you on Gabriel. I like Jamie and Dawn, both of them seem to have some controversy also, but I am hot and cold on Maria. One second I am Oh, cool Maria! next minute What the hell are you doing Maria? I have surprised myself in that I really want Jamie and Dawn to go to top three but with Maria, eh if she packs her knives and goes? No biggie. I can't deal with her emotional drama more than the Gabriel stuff. 

Gabriel was doomed from the start with this whole crew when they found out he was Tom's guy. I really think if he had been on another season, it wouldn't have fazed them as much.

What really irritates me this season is Sara and Shota. I hate workplace warm and fuzzies. 

 

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I just happened to catch a rerun of a Beat Bobby Flay last night.  (don't know how old it was) Gabriel was the chef who ended up cooking against Bobby.  They made cioppino.  Both of their dishes looked great but Bobby put Calabrian chilis in his which I always suspect tips off the judges and he won.  Gabriel was congenial, good-humored and came across just fine.

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I saw that, too (I'd seen it before, as I remember the ciopinno, but of course Gabriel was just some guy to me back then).  He made a couple of mildly obnoxious comments, but that sort of thing is encouraged on the show (which is why I always prefer the competitors who shrug and refuse to engage) and Gabriel has always been less annoying around men, so he indeed came across just fine.  Both dishes looked and sounded great, with Bobby's slightly better, so I figured it was going to go the way it did (I couldn't remember from the first airing).

I laughed when Gabriel mentioned having worked for Tom Colicchio; it was a totally natural mention as part of recapping his background, but viewed in hindsight after the TC editors seemingly included in the first two episodes every mention of working for Tom he ever made, it was funny.

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An article about Shota: https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2021/04/with-twice-fried-karaage-nuggets-and-wings-taku-ready-for-comeback-on-capitol-hill/

His menu: https://www.takuseattle.com/menu

I love his listing under the Extra Kewpie. 

He, Sara, and Byron seem to be tight after the show. It makes me happy that they formed a friendship. I am looking at the show differently since reading some articles and I am no longer giving the side eye over Shota and Sara.

Gabriel: Being less annoying around men makes no sense to me. He has come across as the same to me whether is interacting with men or women. I think it is the women who are reacting differently, not him. Just going by what I see on the show wise.

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https://www.mashed.com/365480/the-best-dish-tom-colicchio-ever-ate-on-top-chef-exclusive/#:~:text=The dish Colicchio is referring,Top Chef in season 9 (

https://www.bravotv.com/blogs/best-thing-gail-simmons-ate-on-top-chef

Gail in 2017 and Tom in 2021, after all these seasons of Top Chef still said Paul Qui's dishes are the best they ever had.  If they had an all winner season, Paul inclusion is a must.  I hope by then, he was able to genuinely and properly redeeming himself to his victims (if that what they want and to be honest, they matter the most and really can be argue the only people that matter).  And then somehow genuinely portray to the people that need to see it that he is a changed person and working on improve himself and the society that he is in.  I, personally, think Paul can and does have the heart to do it.  Despite some of his comments didn't sit well with people.  Growing up in a very abusive family (assault included), I don't know why a person like me believe in second chance and reformative justice more than others.  But I do, I don't follow Paul's life so I don't know what he had done positively in his private life.  Because people don't air everything they do.  I hope his victims found peace, found strength through this rather be haunted by it.  I hope his fans and former fans can believe in the guy again.  And I hope that he do the right things.  It sounds easy.  But there is no manual to this.  Sometimes, you don't want to push a person into a corner with no way out.  A cousin of mine couldn't dig himself out of that hole, and now he is a vegetable..  A celebrity is still a human, much less Top Chef celebrity is probably on the lowest tier of celebrity anyway.  Despite the charges are drop, he know he done it.  But regardless, even the criminals need redemption.

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Watching Beat Bobby Flay (5/10/28) and Shota is one of the contestants.  I’ll update when I see the result.  
 

eta.  Decided not to wait and checked Wikipedia.   He did, indeed, beat Bobby Flay ...  the dish was Tempura.  

Edited by DEL901
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This may be one of the strangest entries ever in this thread but here goes:  Michael Voltaggio makes a cameo appearance as himself in the newly dropped season of Netflix's Lucifer  S5Ep15, "Is This Really How It's Going to End?" The scene is played for comedy, Top Chef is name dropped and a new Voltaggio restaurant gets a plug.

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On 5/31/2021 at 5:38 PM, DEL901 said:

Watching Beat Bobby Flay (5/10/28) and Shota is one of the contestants.  I’ll update when I see the result.  
 

eta.  Decided not to wait and checked Wikipedia.   He did, indeed, beat Bobby Flay ...  the dish was Tempura.  

I saw that episode. It's fairly predictable on that show when they get a capable chef to cook something as specific as tempura against Flay—of course Flay will lose. Nakajima was also on the short-lived Iron Chef Gauntlet. He was a solid contender, I think on the season where Stephanie Izard won (deservedly). They guy may genuinely be shy, but he's a pretty boy who seems to have no compunction about having his face projected onto TVs around the country on numerous competition shows. I'm really not trying to knock him, and certainly not his cooking skills. I like him, and I think he has a really good chance at winning this season. 

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Dawn Burrell, Nelson German, Kiki Louya and Chris Vlaud will be cooking a special Juneteenth dinner in Houston, proceeds to go to a nonprofit that fights food insecurity.

Quote

The participating chefs are bringing some of their own styles of Black cuisine to the table, channeling their upbringings and influences, per Timothy Malcolm at Houstonia. The meals will highlight the meanings of freedom throughout the African diaspora. Diners can anticipate tastes from across the world, including American, Jamaican, Haitian and Nigerian.

 

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I literally forgot the existence of Nelson which is funny because I have actually eaten at his restaurant!

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15 hours ago, Vermicious Knid said:

Wow, I wish I could attend this event, it sounds both delicious and informative with the diversity of the cultures being represented. 

 I have to admit I chuckled a little at the visuals that popped up when I read that it benefits a nonprofit that "fights food insecurity."  I understand it's a modern way to say "fights hunger" or "provides food for those who need it" but I keep imagining teams being sent out to help chefs gain confidence, or even better, making brussel sprouts feel better about themselves.

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After watching Gabe week after week I can't imagine him doing something horrible, I just can't. He seems far too easy going and kind. Until I hear an actual story that can be believed, he's on the good guy side for me.

This is just...not how the world works. I'm sorry. He was fired for "repeated violations of our policies and for behavior in conflict with our values." Do you think a celebrated-but-new restaurant would fire their head chef, who is about to be on national television and bring in a ton of press, in the middle of a pandemic if it were not legitimately serious?

This isn't about personality. This is about behavior and accountability and I sure as hell am going to believe the restaurant that did an investigation over the snippets I see on TV every week.

Edited by hendersonrocks
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17 hours ago, ree1778 said:

After watching Gabe week after week I can't imagine him doing something horrible, I just can't. He seems far too easy going and kind. Until I hear an actual story that can be believed, he's on the good guy side for me.

 

If only we could tell the good guys from the bad guys just by looking at them. But we can't. 

As I look at all the chefs who worked for decades being racist, sexist, harassing assholes, I think it's been damn near impossible for one of them to get fired.

I'm also just fine with the restaurant keeping the details to themselves. That says to me there is a victim who deserves protection. 

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My industry is full of Men Behaving Badly and This is Normal. Many of the worst offenders have seemed like totally cool dudes and have treated me well specifically. Some have been crushing disappointments when facts about them became public. Others were less surprising. And it's the guys who seem like the nicest, friendliest ones who can get away with certain behaviors the longest because it's so hard to reconcile their bad behavior with their public persona. As much as it's hard to see Gabe as someone with serious flaws, I also know his excellent demeanor on a reality show doesn't mean that's the true summary of him and his life.

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Yeah.  It's hard to reconcile what we see with what we've heard but Gabe is amongst equals or even has to be judged.  Some people harass equals but many will focus their energy on people who have significant less power. 

We don't know what the issues were--if it was sexual or some other kind of harassment--but I tend to believe the issues are real.  If it was just creative differences, the parting would have been more mutual.

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Re: Gabe, I kind of prefer to comment and read comments on what we are seeing in the episodes and go to spoilers if I want to learn more about people.  There are several forums in which I participate where posters will remind others that the editors are just showing us what they want and the reality may be different, but, again, what we see is what we comment about.  So, I really only can "judge" Gabe based on what we have been shown.  Just as I can freely criticize those who bother me based on what we have been shown.

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4 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

We don't know what the issues were--if it was sexual or some other kind of harassment--but I tend to believe the issues are real.  If it was just creative differences, the parting would have been more mutual.

I'm sure it wasn't creative, but I'm not sure that makes the issues more real. Without knowing the issues, and we don't, everything is pure speculation. I'm not comfortable with accepting that someone is a horrible person without having some kind of proof of it. I've read everything I could find and the most damning thing I saw was someone on a Redit forum that said that it was "well known among the employees that he was sexually harassing employees". That could be the truth or it could be a lie told by someone who is jealous or someone repeating rumors. 

I do see an establishment firing someone over accusations even if he might come back a Top Chef winner. I say that because in today's society the mere whiff of unPC behavior will do far more damage to your business than a TC winner will bring in. 

What I know is what I'm seeing. I see someone who is helpful, kind, soft spoken, doesn't seem to care about anyone's orientation and has made some terrific food. If it comes out in the future that he's an awful person then we'll have our proof, but people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Kinda like Michael Costello's story that just hit Yahoo today. He came close to losing his career and taking his own life because of lies that were circulated about him by an ex employee and then perpetuated by the media.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/michael-costello-chrissy-teigen-bullying_n_60c8afbee4b038a6a4e5fcdd

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We really don't know what happened with Gabe at his restaurant, since nobody involved has chosen to say more. Sometimes (probably most of the time) losing a job is sufficient consequence for whatever happened (at least for those of us who are not party to any of it - those who are can sort it out amongst themselves, and apparently have done so).

People can learn from their mistakes, especially when they have faced consequences; and sometimes losing a job wasn't actually a fair outcome. I don't know, so I'm not going to make any assumptions one way or the other. I'm noting the question mark, but I plan to just judge him based on what I see going forwards, which has been fine. People who have the choice of hiring him or not, or investing in his projects or not, will probably look into things more closely before making their own choices (is he a bad bet? was it just a situation that went bad once and won't likely happen again? etc.), but it's not anything I need to take a stand on.

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1 hour ago, ree1778 said:

I do see an establishment firing someone over accusations even if he might come back a Top Chef winner.

I like TV show Gabe.  I like the bond he has with Maria.   He and Shota made a good team in this ep.  The way he and Dawn usually end up paired together or against one another in competitions amuses me.  So I totally get this feeling. 

It's just that I don't think people get fired at a whiff of impropriety--one we wouldn't have known about had they not put out a statement about the firing.  The restaurant industry is so toxic.  I still think there's more value in keeping him around as a high Top Chef finisher even if he ended up being controversial.  People want to try Top Chef food.  Even a grace period of 6 months post show would be a boon for a restaurant.

1 hour ago, ree1778 said:

Kinda like Michael Costello's story that just hit Yahoo today. He came close to losing his career and taking his own life because of lies that were circulated about him by an ex employee and then perpetuated by the media.

Except there are people on Twitter now disputing his claim that he never used racial slurs and claim he has a history of mistreating black women.  I'll take the details to the Misc. Celeb thread so people can judge for themselves.

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Kwame is coming out with a line of nail polish. I don't think I ever noticed him wearing any. The overall article is about the growing acceptance of men wearing nail polish, I'll just quote the relevant part. The Mondrian design is very cool though.

Quote

The first time he got his nails done, the thing that surprised “Top Chef” judge Kwame Onwuachi wasn’t how they looked, but how he felt.

“It felt empowering,” he says.

Onwuachi had taken his young nieces for a manicure. He had always wanted to try polish on his own nails and finally had an excuse to do it.

The black nail polish boosted his confidence. It represented “being comfortable with yourself,” he says. “Like, you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.” It quickly became his signature look. Sometimes, he and his fiancee get their nails done together. These days, “if I don’t have my nails polished, I feel kind of naked.”

The chef and author is launching a nail polish line later this summer. The four polishes in the Kwame line, Onwuachi says, represent different aspects of his personality — there’s a slate blue, burgundy, a matte topcoat and his usual black, which he named “Chef’s Kiss.” “Hopefully I’ll have 16, 24 colors eventually,” he says. “Like lipstick red. I would definitely do a chrome.”

His agenda: to “normalize men wearing nail polish.”

 

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Nice! I will totally check his nail polish line out. Go men in makeup!

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Whoa! Major Gabe update! If it's true, then he totally has my support to win, and I'm also so relieved. I hope it is true!

According to the guys on Watch What Crappens, they were approached by someone who actually knows the owners of the restaurant where Gabe was fired. And the skinny is a customer came in and ordered a huge amount of food -- like $400 worth -- and left a five-dollar tip. So Gabe posted the receipt on social media and read this customer for filth. I don't know if he shared the name of the customer -- which is tricky legal territory -- but that's where the clash of "values and culture" came into play. He was fired for customer shaming.

...And if this is true, then honestly, I am now totally team Gabe. Because treating the service staff like that during a pandemic is disgraceful, and it shows to me he cares about his FOH as much as he does the people in his kitchen. Which...is what you want. I hope someone else will verify this to be true. Because I want to believe.

Here's the episode:

https://play.acast.com/s/watchwhatcrappens/0d71b7fd-d26b-4ebb-b3bd-ad520055d67f

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41 minutes ago, Rai said:

According to the guys on Watch What Crappens,

 Couldn’t get to their claims because the fact that they apparently have made it a recurring gag to pit Padma and Gail against each other because they are the two female judges and so one must hate the other I found absolutely revolting and not worth my time.

I have my doubts because people can literally find all your deleted shit and people were monitoring Gabe’s social media at the time of his firing because the cast had been known by then. 

Edited by biakbiak
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Here's the Austin Chronicle's report on the firing.

https://www.austinchronicle.com/food/2020-12-25/shakeup-at-comedor-after-high-profile-chef-out/

In the report, the owner of the restaurant mentioned involving a third party HR company, a hotline and repeated violations.  They're not going to do that over Gabe posting a receipt online. 

In addition, a year ago, this was published about an Instagram account collecting reports of abusive and unethical behavior towards people in the service industry in Austin.

https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/welp-512-instagram-austin-restaurants-alamo/

Comedore, and its chefs, was the subject of at least one of the reports.  It aligns far better with the eventual firing statement, IMO.

Edited by Irlandesa
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4 minutes ago, Irlandesa said:

addition, a year ago, this was published about an Instagram account collecting reports of abusive and unethical behavior towards the service industry in Austin.

I would follow that account and trust it more than deuxmoi!

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