Monday, August 17, 2009

Jason Gould to leave Gravitas over dispute with Scott Tycer

UPDATE: An anonymous commenter posted a link to Tycer's version of the story.

Cleverley Stone broke a story on her radio show over the weekend that will probably infuriate a lot of Houston foodies.

Jason Gould, the Executive Chef at Gravitas, is leaving. And the reason isn't pretty.

"I was lead to believe that I was part owner, but I was not" Gould said. And he sounded genuinely hurt by this unfortunate surprise.

This story is just the latest in the drama surrounding Scott Tycer, the owner of Gravitas and Textile, and the enfant terrible of the Houston food scene.

Gifted in the kitchen, Tycer's reputation among those he works with is markedly less positive, with staff reportedly walking on eggshells waiting for Tycer's next outburst. But this takes things a step further, if Gould's allegations are correct.

Our Take:

In our opinion, misleading a key employee about his equity in a business goes beyond a breach of ethics. We don't have personal knowledge of what was said, but Tycer's reputation for abusing his staff doesn't make this allegation tough to believe.

Over the years, we went from being mildly amused by Tycer's antics to being put off by how he treated his staff. Every time we write about him we feel a growing sense of distaste for contributing in any small way to his success. But for us, this is the last straw. Jason Gould is a class act, and he is the heart and soul behind the success of Gravitas. He deserves far better than this.

Our Bottom Line: We won't be returning to any Tycer restaurants, and won't continue to cover them in this blog. Best of luck to the staff at these locations; you folks may have the toughest jobs in the Houston food scene.

32 comments:

  1. As someone who once worked for Tycer at Aries (and is still working the line, hence Anon), I'm glad to see that others are taking notice of his 'antics'. Gould is a class act indeed. Scott, not so much. It may take some time, but when Karma comes around to the Tycer world, it won't be pleasant to watch.

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  2. jason broke the news himself on twitter, with a tweet that said he resigned that night and his last day would be the 27th.

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  3. How refreshing to see someone finally come out and call it as it is! One correction I feel I must point out, Tycer has not been in a kitchen for well over 6 years. Gould stepped in at Aries and was the force behind the food there (just as he is at Gravitas - Tycer's never even touched a pan in that restaurant) and it is understood that Dax Mcanear runs the kitchen at Textile. Tycer is only at Textile long enough to drink his requisite 2 bottles of wine a night (another common known fact).

    I concur with the first comment in regards to karma. I'd hate to be in their world when it hits.

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  4. If Jason broke the news on Twitter, a lot of people did not know about it.

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  5. As a long time supporter of Jason, all of the above info and comments are absolutely TRUE! Aries survived far beyond it's natural life ONLY thru the efforts of it's then Sous Chef, Jason. And from it's inception Jason has been the heart and soul of Gravitas, on every level... every amazing dish he created, the respect and integrity with which he treated his staff (not to mention their loyalty to him), his wonderful "Aussie" personality and ease with his guests, his willingness to give back to the Houston community for countless charity events... BUT - the one incident that distills this sordid situation in one sentence is this: I was in Gravitas for brunch about a year after it opened, and happened to be introduced to Scott's father, who raved about Gravitas, and began singing JASON'S praises. I was surprised, and then Scott's father said to our entire table, " You shouldn't be surprised, Jason is the talent and brains in this restaurant, and Scott will NEVER be the Chef that Jason is." All true, every word. Karma does exsist, and when it happens here, the word "tsunami" come to mind.

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  6. I was at Gravitas with a group one night when Scott rampaged through the dinning room screaming at the staff all the way to the kitchen. He is obviously a troubled person and
    should lay off the drinking.

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  7. I guess we will not be going back to Gravitas.
    There is no Gravitas without Jason.

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  8. Whoever brought Scott's family into this equation has absolutely no class. Furthermore, Scott Tycer is one of the most innovative Chefs in this city, and is one of the first to bring fine dining to the Houston scene. For someone who has worked with both men for several years, I have learned so much from both of them. This is a personal matter between two men. I wish them both the best and hope they continue to give Houston upscale dining at its best.

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  9. http://www.examiner.com/x-3259-Houston-Cheap-Eats-Examiner~y2009m8d19-More-about-the-change-at-Gravitasfrom-Scott-Tycer

    Regardless of Tycer's faults and drinking habits you should all educate yourselves on the subject before making an opinion. You have no idea what really happened.

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  10. Tycer is a liar, a cheat, lazy and a drunk. Those in the know say he screwed Chef Gould. Gravitas will be lucky to make it to next year. Staff are bailing on the place as I type this.

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  11. Thats funny that "Weritas" claims that those in the know say that Tycer screwed Gould. There are like 5 people who actually know what really happened and the rest is speculation.

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  12. Sounds to me that Weritas was probably a substandard employee that got canned and is now angry at Scott for not wanting scrubs in his restaurants.

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  13. Isnt it funny how Gordan Ramsey (or any European Chef) can scream and rampage and belittle people, but when it happens it Texas its the end of the world. Isnt it funny how Tycers restaurants are awesome even though he "Doesnt do anything". I guess Thomas Kellar is working the line every night and has a beer with the whole kitchen staff at the end of the shift.... right? Oh wait, lets get back to reality. Wake up !! The president doesnt mow the White House lawn.

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  14. this time it's not about tycer being an ass, it's about tycer not giving jason the ownership he was promised.

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  15. i will never forget the story of a dear friend who drove in from Austin to have dinner at Aries bout 6 years ago. this friend is a quadriplegic and asked the waiter to have the kitchen cut his food for him before it is brought to the table. the waiter told him that he would have to first check with the chef, who was scott at that time. waiter came back and told the my friend that the chef wouldn't cut it cause it would mess up the plate presentation. my friend then asked if he could see the plate and after seeing the presentation of the plate would they they please take it to the kitchen and cut it for him to easily eat. the waiter said he would have to check with the chef first.....the response was no! so other members of his dining party did the honors of cutting his meal for him.....this person is a very well respected individual, unpretentious, very high profile, & very well traveled....he handled himself as a true gentleman in this setting but swore he would never go back to eat at Aires!!!!
    sounds as if scott is at least consistant....

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  16. Those of you to believe Gould is a class act, don't know him well. Those employees that praise him are on the line with him and have nothing he can manipulate or use to benefit him. He's a lying, cheating jerk that will step on anyone in his path to fulfill his dream of being a restaurant owner. He uses and abuses and even seduces anyone that can get him closer to that dream and thinks nothing of it because he blatanly tells them this is his dream and nothing or no one else matters, all with a charming smile and an Australian accent. For years of doing this to people, even on your own staff, this is exactly what Gould deserves. This is his Karma.

    As for Tycer, as any chef or anyone in the restaurant industry, he does drink, he does yell, but he also has a very kind heart. He is rough on his staff, but so are many other bosses out there that aren't publicly critiqued. Gould tried to be Tycer and failed short. Tycer has the knowledge to do and teach and does fulfill his dreams with and without Gould and will continue doing so.

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  17. um wouldn't it make more sense to ask your friends and party to cut your food rather then teh waiter or chef anyway. its not like if you were to go to Denny's they would do it either.

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  18. I've never known a Chef that didn't drink alcohol and yell at his staff. Its a high stress atmosphere and people and employees shouldn't take it persoanlly. Its called the restaurant industry. If you can't handle it then get out.

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  19. I'm amused at those who feel Gould swooped in and saved Aries as if Tycer hadn't created and successfully ran Aries for many years. As any chef with multiple businesses would do, he hired a chef to continue his efforts as he would. Tycer taught Gould, not the other way around people. Without Tycer, Gravitas would have never existed and no one would know Gould's name.

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  20. Finally some smart comments are coming in, rather than a bunch of idiots who think Gould is so awesome and nice and caring. I laugh at those who wont go to Gravitas without him. I'm sure someone else will be able to make steak frites, beef bourguignon, salad nicoise and croque madaam's. It turns out that these "oh so creative" dishes have only been done since man discovered fire.

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  21. WAKE UP!!!!! THEY BOTH GOT WHAT THEY DESERVED
    HOW CAN YOU BE SO STUPID TO GO INTO A BUSINESS DEAL WITHOUT CONTRACTS AND LAWYERS. NO WONDER HOUSTON IS SO BEHIND THE TIMES. EVERYONE IS POINTING THEIR FINGER...THIS IS SO DAM FUNNY.
    HOUSTON IS A COWBOY TOWN FOR SURE

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  22. Oh, the righteous anger of the anonymous Tycer defenders. C'mon folks, don't any of you have the courage to stand behind your opinions?

    (And to our friend who accused us of plagiarizing a Houston Press review of Textile - that's kinda strange, because we've never posted a review of Textile, much less a plagarized one. Your comment was cheerfully deleted.)

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  23. I think both are great chefs, but with opposing personalities. Gravitas will be fine without Gould. And I wish Guold the best of luck in his mission to be the chef/owner of his own restaurant.

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  24. Hey "smart" person, every comment on here is anonymous, except Weritas, but if I had to guess, I would bet thats not a real name either. Also is there something wrong with defending the truth? Or is it your goal to crucify someone who made mistakes when they were first started out years & years ago, regardless of the facts in this particular case.

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  25. as someone who worked at aires and opened gravitas. i think both are in the wrong and both hopefully will be better off apart. both men are hard to work for and both talented. i have learned many things from both. and had the honor to build gravitas with both. to say either man would be nothing without the other is a mistake. but the whole of the union, is better. gravitas wasnt built to change the face of dining. it was created as a bistro with great food, great price point,to hang and enjoy friends and food. and we suceed in that. winning awards and praises and a few disses. my heart is sadden more at seeing an end to a partnership of over 8 yrs end and a end of a restaurant i cherish, one that is in my heart and soul, one where my sweat still lays---Sexy

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  26. they are both talented men, and it is a shame they have not been able to get along for a few years. I think Jason has a better business sense where Scott tends not to listen and that is why he is always in financial trouble. the restaurant community knows that scott is a great chef but a terriable business man who reacts before he thinks and lets his ego get in the way of making smart business decisions. everyone knows that is why aries failed financially. It is sad that he brings such great businesses such as gravitas and kraftsmen to financial woes with poor business decisions. he needs to stick to what he knows best and do what other great chefs do who have a sucessfull business, leave the running of it to those more qualified. maybe then we as investors and vendors can get the money that is owed to us.

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  27. Sounds like both are going to be doing some deep thinking. Jason is young - he can dust himself off, learn from his ignorance, and get busy with a new place. It sounds like Tycer has not learned yet from past mistakes - which is really sad because restaurants are such a difficult business and he does have the talent. Looking forward to seeing what Jason does next.

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  28. Aries had a very good run and made a name for Scott Tycer. It gave him the base to create other ventures such as Kraftsmen, Gravitas and now Textile. Scott is all about creativity and the art of cooking and not about the all mighty dollar. He enjoys what he does and we enjoy his food and I'm pretty sure each and every one of you enjoy his bread, his Kraftsmen artisan bread, at any restaurant you sit down at in this city.

    Scott created a good chef in Jason Gould, but the menu at Gravitas was nothing spectacular. Scott will do a great job at recreating the menu. Scott's new sous chef at Textile, Dax McAnear, will blow Jason Gould right out of the water. He's definitely a better chef and a better person as a whole.

    Keep it up Scott!

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  29. Have not eaten at either place, nor at Aries because Tycer's drunken reputation preceeded him and his food.

    What a bunch of alcoholics.

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  30. Whoever is justifying his yelling at his employees IS AN A-HOLE, TOO! Employers should NEVER yell at employees - it is an abuse of their position, rude and ABUSIVE in and of itself! The employees are forced to put up with it b/c if they say anything against him, they know they will be fired and "there will be 10 more people lined up to take their job." I am so tired of restaurant owners/managers excusing that kind of behavior, aside from the fact that they always run their restaurants on a skeleton staff, forcing them to work without proper breaks and squeezing all the can out of them just to take home a bigger profit margin. IT IS NOT OK TO ABUSE YOUR EMPLOYEES, DAMMIT! And give me a break with the "it you can't hack it, don't do it" - even a dog knows when it is being kicked. Restaurant employees need to organize and put these abusive restaurant owners out of business.

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  31. Two things that stand out:
    1.) after half a year, gravitas hasnt shut its doors, and doesnt appear to be doing so in the next six months. So i dont know where this "tsunami" of bad karma is going to come from but your predictions on that as well as other posters predictions of such were just wrong.

    2.) After saying you would never write about scott tycer restaurants because it left a bad taste in your mouth, you awarded plinio chef of the year and he still works for scott tycer.

    did the passage of time soften your stance on things, change your perspective. did you learn something that you didnt know before? because the reports that you allowed to be posted on your blog of scott's rampant drinking would be classified as slanderous and a responsible news organization wouldnt allow them to stay up as long as you have. But I guess that what seperates bad bloggers who get less than 100 unique hits in a night from productive people in society.

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  32. Thanks for the comments, Anon. My responses:

    1. Yes, Gravatas has survived for six months. I expected no less; the Tycers have been doing this long enough to be able to weather a slow spell.

    2. Plinio is not Tycer. I think he's one of the most talented chefs in Houston, and I wouldn't dream of penalizing him because of where he works.

    I don't edit comments from readers, they get posted as is. And I've not been contacted by anyone in Tycer's organization with a takedown request, so I see no meaningful objection; thus they stay up.

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