What happens when restaurant chains start opening in small towns? This unique point of view convinced Anthony Bourdain to publish the book – Grand Forks: A History of American Dinning in 128 Reviews.
Marilyn Hagerty, wrote a review on the Olive Garden back in 2012. It was a very positive take on the restaurant, but it focused more on the decor rather than the food. She was mocked mercilessly until Anthony Bourdain decided to publish her reviews.
Who is Marilyn Hagerty?
Marilyn Hagerty was a newspaper columnist for the Grand Forks Herald since 1957 when her husband; Jack Hagerty became the editor. For 27 years, she has been covering the restaurant scene in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She has been writing reviews for several restaurants in the area. (Source: Eater)
She became famous in 2012 in her oddly positive review of the Olive Garden. Bourdain calls her work a sincere and genuine reportage of food that people don’t really see or talk about. He goes on to describing how Marilyn is never mean even when the situation calls for it, she will struggle to find something nice to say about a place she clearly dislikes. Her son, who writes obituaries, also describes his mother as a very kind woman who will never say anything bad. That if she is displeased with the food or service, she will talk about the decor. (Source: Eater)
What is the Olive Garden Review About?
If you haven’t read the review yet, you will find it here. In a nutshell, the review was overwhelmingly positive. Now, the reason why this was problematic was the fact that writing reviews for chain restaurants weren’t as respected amongst food critics.
Her rise to fame started when another critic wrote about her review on their blog using quite a condescending tone. In a matter of hours, the post went viral and Marilyn Hagerty became the talk of the town. A lot of people, especially those on Reddit, poked fun at her for how she was very enthusiastic about the Olive Garden. This was something that got out of hand but Marilyn wasn’t really affected by the mockery. She had been reviewing other chain restaurants like Taco Bell, Subway, and even McDonald’s for quite some time and is unfazed by the attention. (Source: Wavy Web Surf)
Should You Read Her Book?
After the media circus and tons of unwanted attention. The famous author and chef; Anthony Bourdain stepped and offered Marilyn Hagerty a book deal. He encourages everyone to read the book by saying: “Reading these reviews, we can see, we can watch over the course of time, who makes it and who doesn’t. And you will understand why the opening of an Olive Garden might be earnestly anticipated as an exciting and much welcome event. Her reviews, writes Bourdain, offer up a fascinating picture of dining in America, a gradual, cumulative overview of how we got from there to here.” (Source: Eater)
At the end of they day, people should remember how it’s different in each town. Grand Forks is not New York after all. What may be common in big cities may seem grand and sophisticated in others.