Letters to the Editor

Published the week of July 12-18, 2000

He says at one point that the gnoccrhi is tasty and then two paragraphs later says it's "heavy and gummy." It's a potato pasta; it's going to be heavy and gummy.

He says he assumes the crème brûlée was supposed to be cold; in 16 years of cooking I have never seen one served hot. It seems he had more on his mind than a review; it seems to me that he was mad at someone and decided to use an unflattering review as revenge. I think not only was the review in error, I think the way it presents Harry's East is unprofessional. His review may be his opinion; this letter is my opinion.
Sean Kane
Belleville, Ill.

I am a former employee of Harry's East and believe your comments were harsh. I feel that you had every intention of knocking the place as you entered the door. Harry's East, I believe, was not intended to be a replica of the downtown or west location but a creative, similar restaurant that would succeed on this not-so-cultured side of the river.

I have worked at all three Harry's locations and noted several differences in the menu. I know the wait staff is not perfect. Did you consider that the restaurants on this side of the river Harry's is competing with? They're all chain-type restaurants like Outback Steak House, Ponderosa, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday's and Applebee's. Unfortunately for Harry's, people on the Illinois side of the river truly believe that those are fine dining. This is the same job market that Harry's is forced to get their wait staff from. As far as the food is concerned, the executive chef who prepares the menu and recipes for Harry's East provides the same recipes and menu concepts to the other two restaurants. I give you the benefit of the doubt in the pot roast -- I didn't care for it, but I didn't think it was bad. There have been dozens of great comments on it. The calamari is great for the value and is one of the best calamari dishes I have ever tasted. You also made no comments on the excellent quality and taste of the salads you received with the freshly made dressing. You commented on the flash-fried spinach that had an "off" taste -- did you mean awful, or not what you were expecting? I believe you had a bad experience on a Tuesday night. You may have had a newly trained server or possibly unforeseen problems elsewhere. As for Friday, I think you had a good experience but came in with a bad taste in your mouth from the Tuesday-night experience. So I would hope that next time you separate the two evenings and weigh out the differences.
Wade Walcher
Freeburg, Ill.

As a film professional who has been involved with the St. Louis Film Festival for the past few years and as an infrequent RFT contributor, I have to say I was dismayed by the headline on the front of this week's RFT ("It's Amateur Hour at the SLIFF.") While Eddie Silva's article, which does not bear that headline, at least in my online edition ("Reel Change," RFT, July 5), acknowledges the contribution of the professionals who work with the festival, the cover title is unfair, and I for one resent being labeled an amateur in the pejorative sense that I think Eddie is using. (If taken literally, we are all amateurs at the festival, doing what we do for the love of it.)

While Cliff Froehlich's sidebar was thoughtful and well balanced ("The Big Picture," RFT, July 5), I thought Eddie Silva did a disservice to new program manager Chris Clark by choosing not to mention Chris' past involvement with the festival. A quote from a board member alluded to Chris' SLIFF experience, but it went unexplained. Chris has served as a member of the NFF selection committee, fundraiser and community liaison, but the casual reader would think that Chris came straight from working in a restaurant to his position at SLIFF.

As the article points out, all of us who have worked with Chris are convinced of his qualifications and enthusiasm. While the outgoing director may fear that he lacks the industry relationships she cultivated, there are as many managerial styles as there are managers, and I'm sure Chris will do the job well and in his own way.
Brian Hohlfeld

As the director of the Webster University Film Series, and somebody who has been involved off and on with the St. Louis International Film Festival since its inception (I actually designed the first program booklets, served both as a judge and an advisory board member, as well as hostess for the New Filmmakers Forum one year at the Webster Film Series), I feel compelled to respond to the article in last week's RFT. As a film programmer with nearly seven years' experience, I find much to agree with and much to dispute.

I will begin with what's not true: It's not true that Webster waits three years to play films -- virtually all of our films are premieres and were created within the last year or two. It often takes some time for films to receive U.S. distribution and it's not unusual for the Webster Film Series to have premieres even before New York or Los Angeles.

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