Written by: Steve Stover
Date: November 2, 2017
The Grumpy Gourmet, aka Doral Chenoweth, aka “The Grump,” the legendary restaurant reviewer for the Columbus Dispatch, turned 96 earlier this year with a gala birthday party at Westminister Thurber, where the Grump claims to be “an inmate.”
Then-Dispatch food Editor Lisa Abraham, joined by her husband Richard Hart, organized the party. Guests included Jon Christensen, who followed the Grump as Dispatch restaurant reviewer, and yours truely who was the Grump’s friendly nemesis as editor of Zagat Survey Ohio restaurant guides in the 1990s.
The Grump’s son Doral III was there to “referee.” Sending regards and cards were Chef Hartmut Handke, WOSU restaurant reviewer Rich Terapak, and local food pioneer Jim Budros.
Doral started his journalism career when he bought a short-lived newspaper in 1945. In the 1960s, he was the gossip columnist and restaurant reviewer for the Columbus Star. He also worked for the Casto organization for many years.
The Grumpy Gourmet took over as Dispatch restaurant reviewer in 1979, following Jim O’Conner.
The Grump jokes that he offered to pay Luke Feck, then-Dispatch editor, to be the restaurant reviewer.
The Grump’s first and last reviews were The Top Steakhouse on E. Main Street. He wrote hundreds of reviews, as well as two column: “Re$taurant$” and “Toque of the Town,” and organized the Gourmet Galaxy, a series of cooking demonstrations at the Dispatch Home & Garden Show.
The Grump was also a visible part of the Columbus restaurant scene, and attended just about every food-related event in Central Ohio for many years, even after he retired.
Although he tried to be gruff and grumpy, he really had, and has, a heart of gold — just ask anybody in the food business.
In 2000, the Grump “retired” and was followed by Jon Christensen, who had been with Columbus Monthly and This Week newspapers.
The Grump reminisced for about an hour telling stories about restaurants that “closed in one day or one review” (remember Turkey Trot?).
He grudgingly admitted that many of Columbus’ restaurant reviewers have been lawyers, including the late Benson Wolman (aka “Ben Vivant”), Jon Christensen, Steve Stover, Rich Terapak, and John Marshall.
Most of us participated in a cooking competition to raise funds in memory of Benson Wolman. The competition was judged by chefs (turnabout is fair play), and the winner was Jim Budros, who is not a lawyer.
We sang, and toasted, and ate cake (Grump was a hearty eater) and a good time was had by all! Doral, we wish you many more happy, and grumpy, years.