Marilyn Hagerty: Interview with genius Olive Garden reviewer

Everybody online today is enjoying the publication of The Greatest Restaurant Review Ever Written, a piece entitled "Long-awaited Olive Garden receives warm welcome" by Marilyn Hagerty of the Grand Forks Herald.

There are so many evocative parts of the review: The "two long, warm breadsticks," the raspberry lemonade that is proffered but rejected in favor of water. The understated yet wistful tone is reminiscent of a William Carlos Williams poem.

So far, the Olive Garden review has been tweeted over 6,800 times, and Liked on Facebook 4,477 times. The editors at the Grand Forks Herald are scrambling to assemble an article on the outsized reaction for tomorrow's paper, but in the meantime, we called Marilyn Hagerty to get her response to the sudden Internet fame.

UPDATE:
I'd like to make clear that I didn't intend to come off as disrespectful in this post. The reason I asked about the lemonade and the breadsticks is because so many of her readers seemed to enjoy those lines in her review and I wanted to get the back story. I'm a fan of Marilyn and her work--I really do think she has a brilliant voice, both in print and on the phone--and I apologize if my enthusiasm seemed sarcastic rather than genuine.

Hi, is this Marilyn?

Yeah?

Hi Marilyn, this is Kevin Hoffman. I'm the editor in chief of City Pages in the Twin Cities. How you doing?

I'm good.

I just wanted to call to tell you how much I enjoyed your Olive Garden review.

Oh, I'm sure you did.

And I was wondering if you had just a few minutes to do an interview about it?

Yeah, I do.

Are you aware of all the attention that it's been getting on the internet?

I wasn't until I just had a phone call from somebody in New York.

Was that Gawker?

I don't think so.

Did you think when you were writing it that it would get so much attention outside of Grand Forks?

I didn't really care.

How long have you been reviewing restaurants?

Oh, about 30 or 40 years ... I can't remember when I started doing that. I used to be the lifestyle editor of the Grand Forks Herald, and I started it sometime ... I can't remember when it's so long ago.

I take it there aren't a ton of restaurants to review in Grand Forks so it must be difficult to find a new place to go each time?

Yeah, that's exactly it. I had attended meetings of the national newspaper food editors for many years, and we had sessions on how to write restaurant reviews. And I got thinking, we don't have one, but why couldn't we? But if I did that, there are about three or four fine dining places, and then what would you do? So I decided that I would just write about all the restaurants, including McDonald's, or wherever people eat. Sort of like a news story to have our readers in our area to know what they can expect, what they can find, how much it will cost when they're visiting here. And the hometown people kind of like it, I mean they often tell me they do.

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133 comments
tatergumfries
tatergumfries

Don't see what the fuss is all about. Gal wrote a restaurant review. Happens every day.

Tryfitness
Tryfitness

I can't help but wonder who's laughing now... Marilyn is a guest in NYC, having visited the New York Times office and with dinner reservations at Le Bernardin. Best part is that she congartulated the NYT reporters on "making it" and one turned the compliment right back to her pointing out that she's the one who made it (unlike some other local writers). Nice rises above mean every time. Go Marilyn!

Robin
Robin

come on if you can't laugh at yourself, you are taking life to seriously.  I would be willing to bet she can laugh at herself.   Like she says "she doesn't care" what others think.  I total agree with that philosophy  I have no problem telling people something ridiculous that I have done, because it is hilarious and I like others to laugh also.

Jennifer Reddig
Jennifer Reddig

This woman sounds absolutely darling. I love people like that. Salt of the earth. (I also love how she's letting the snarkiness roll off her back. She's a class act.)

Mr. Dart
Mr. Dart

In her 80's, sharp as a tack, and cranking out 5 columns a week each and every week.  We should all be so lucky.  Bless her.

X
X

Shes a reporter and responded to the questions like a true reporter. A reporters job is not to have an opinion but only report what they are seeing. No taking sides just reporting of the facts. Unlike journalism today. 

Cmdr_Casey_Ryback
Cmdr_Casey_Ryback

WHY THE F NOT?

We've got a bunch of yahoos in D.C., insanely spending us into a $25,000,000,000,000.00 debt-hole to the Chinese Commies that will take decades to pay off.

Then, a little bit of Midwest-nice history appears, and everyone has a moment to smile.

Why the F not? As opposed to a non-stop gorging of political BS, lying and medacity?

Padraigan
Padraigan

Seems like Kevin was chewed up to me.

Spearman
Spearman

Marilyn was just on CBS Morning News for all you snarky slugs who are still in bed. She does more before most of you are out of bed than you do in a day. For an 86 yr. old she is more articulate and coherent than half the people commenting on this site. She was totally charming & joking about what it meant for her to have gone viral.  BTW when Andy Rooney was in Grand Forks 20 yrs. ago he remarked on 60 MInutes the next week that he found better wine selections in GF liquor stores than in NYC.  Seems there are so many millionaire farmers there that they can afford the best wines.  Also there is a 5 star restaurant in Grand Forks.

Samuel
Samuel

Spearman: No disrespect intended, but if you even momentarily skim the comments above your post, you'll see that nearly 100% of the "snarky slugs" on this thread are thoroughly support Marilyn and are blasting the slime who wrote this article.

Spearman
Spearman

I know.  I actually copied this from where I had posted it on the Grand Forks herald site this morning where comments were being moderated I assume to protect Marilyn from snarks.  Since it is a computer doing the moderating it takers forever for them to pass the smell test on a weekend.  So being in a hurry I just moved it.  I appreciate all the comments made in her support.

Dsmith
Dsmith

Poor Kevin, getting your arse kicked like that must hurt.

Jane S. C.
Jane S. C.

I can't believe this guy still hasn't properly apologized. To Marilyn, and to his readers for insulting our intelligence. 

And for god's sake TAKE THAT IMAGE OF HER DOWN. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Paul
Paul

I've never been so embarrassed to be from Minneapolis.

Bubbles LaTour
Bubbles LaTour

People often misjudge the level of sophistication of old people.  You don't get to be 85 without learning a few things about people.   Ms. Hagerty knows her audience and wrote for them, not the pseudo-sophisticates of The Cities.  I hope she knocks back a couple Crown Royals and writes in her private journal about the hubbub her review has created.  LOL!!    BTW, I've got a great recipe for a knock-off of OG's Zuppa Toscana.  (*^;^)

Aaron
Aaron

Kevin, you are a tool.

J.M.
J.M.

"UPDATE FROM KEVIN HOFFMAN: I'd like to make clear that I didn't intend to come off as disrespectful in this post. The reason I asked about the lemonade and the breadsticks is because so many of her readers seemed to enjoy those lines in her review and I wanted to get the back story. I'm a fan of Marilyn and her work--I really do think she has a brilliant voice, both in print and on the phone--and I apologize if my enthusiasm seemed sarcastic rather than genuine."

Unfortunately, everything in the article and interview you wrote and posted speaks otherwise, usually in capital letters and italics (not to mention the LOLCAT) . You can't simply will away an obvious example of condescension and snark by saying you didn't intend it. That's about as credible as Rush Limbaugh saying he didn't intend to offend.

In other words, you're taking your readers for fools; it's patently obvious what tone you intended to take. Not least of all because if you felt she has a "brilliant voice" in print, there is nothing in your article that indicates as much.

In other words: try again. Take the rest of the weekend, read through what you wrote, try to recognize what so many people find objectionable about it, then come back with a real apology. We are trying to expand your capacity for self-knowledge and -critique; unless you are entirely satisfied with your evidently limited social intelligence, you should take the hint.

Danielle
Danielle

The Grand Forks Herald has a Pulitzer. Just saying. I'm from East Grand Forks, and Marilyn is pretty awesome. she's 86 and likes the Olive Garden. Lighten up people.

Henrietta Pussycat
Henrietta Pussycat

What is this, Upside Down Day? City Pages doesn't get to make fun of anyone else's small town writing. If the pen is mightier than the sword, KHoff wields the equivalent of pinking shears. 

Kylebille
Kylebille

This reminds me of when Rachel Hutton wrote the terrible review of the South side Resto Modern Times, trashing the neighborhood and its people. She no longer works for the CP! Hope this happens to this ass!

Bobo Clown
Bobo Clown

If you didn't mean to be disrespectful, why the caption on her photo?

Maureen Owen
Maureen Owen

Not a lot of restaurants and yet the place is called Grand Forks. Has anyone commented on the irony?

Rosa
Rosa

The name comes from The Red River of the North that divides itself into a fork, this river flows to the north into Canada.

Sarah G.
Sarah G.

Marilyn: Worldly, hip, and independently-minded.

Kevin Hoffman: Editor of an ad-littered, failing weekly Village Voice-knockoff, blogger, and country bumpkin.

Me
Me

I find the fact that the banner ad at the top of the page is for Buca di Beppo to be hilariously ironic.

Jason
Jason

Marilyn Haggerty: Traveled the world. Son is an editor of the Wall Street Journal. Has been a guest at the White House on several occasions. Knows Anthony Bourdain, who thinks she's awesome. Thinks she's pretty awesome herself, and doesn't need a Village Voice knockoff editor's validation.

Kevin Hoffman:Editor of a corporate, ad-littered weekly which has long since failed as a relevant source for in depth journalism. Blogger. Country bumpkin.

JSRLS
JSRLS

What a dick. Your "UPDATE" is about as sincere as the word "genius" in the blog post title. I spent a decade living in Minneapolis, and love the Twin Cities, but seriously, Kevin, maybe you need to take a look at map and remember where YOU are.

bleatreader
bleatreader

K-Hoff- "I'd like to make clear that I didn't intend to come off as disrespectful in this post." Then why the "zany antics" tag and the lolcats style photo?  You saw a chance for hits and took it.

Ryan19
Ryan19

First, you try to humiliate an 85 year old woman, who clearly sees through it and she answers your questions honestly without giving you any of the ammo you intended to get. Then you post this interview for some reason, thinking people will like it, when actually, pretty much everybody is angered by your lame ass attmept at exploiting this old lady. Then after seeing how badly you bombed on this one, you post this UPDATE: I'd like to make clear that I didn't intend to come off as disrespectful in this post. The reason I asked about the lemonade.....thinking that people will actually believe you meant it. So basically to sum this up, who here is the ignorant one? The writer for a small town newspaper who knows who and what she is and doesn't care what you or your wannabe friends think, or you? I know who I'm going to pick....

Ryankuntz19
Ryankuntz19

First, you try to humiliate an 85 year old woman, who clearly sees through it and she answers your questions honestly without giving you any of the ammo you intended to get. Then you post this interview for some reason, thinking people will like it, when actually, pretty much everybody is angered by your lame ass attmept at exploiting this old lady. Then after seeing how badly you bombed on this one, you post this UPDATE: I'd like to make clear that I didn't intend to come off as disrespectful in this post. The reason I asked about the lemonade.....thinking that people will actually believe you meant it. So basically to sum this up, who here is the ignorant one? The writer for a small town newspaper who knows who and what she is and doesn't care what you or your wannabe friends think, or you? I know who I'm going to pick....

J-Walk
J-Walk

Hey Kevin,

Making fun of an old lady?! You have no class.

I looked up your photo, you are what my grandpa would call unfortunate looking. You are a massive tool, a substantial piece of human excrement, and you can go and suck a bag of male genitals. I'm trying not to swear but it's hard because I don't like you.

Peace out you chump hipster douche.

P.S. Your mother is a promiscuous woman.

Scout
Scout

Marilyn is cool she is my old neighbor.  Her son was stationed in Hong Kong and Brussels as an editor for the Wall Street Journal.  He is now an editor for WSJ in NY.  She has traveled all over the world, eaten at the White House a couple times.  Best thing of all as a joke she got a pump station named after her.  She loved it thought it was hilarious.  Read her articles about after the flood that destroyed the town.  By the way Anthony Bourdain from the show no reservations on the travel channel loved her.  He saw nothing wrong about reviewing a chain resturant.  Marilyn rocks.

frank1
frank1

Awesome! She does sound amazing. And the editor of City Pages sounds like a real dick.

bleatreader
bleatreader

Is the city pages that is making fun of this person the same city pages that published a review of a new My Burger, a fast food burger joint, when it opened in calhoun-isles a couple of months ago? 

Joel
Joel

You mean the review with the stunning insight of: "The chicken sandwich was very well-seasoned; not overloaded with mayo like most chicken sandwiches you find. Even the French fries tasted fresh. Our only complaint was with the onion rings, which didn't really taste very oniony."

I wonder if that writer will get a pandering call from some d-bag editor about it?

ludwigtr
ludwigtr

Oniony must be one of those foodie technical terms...  We're just not cultured enough to understand how great of a review that actually is...

Aaron Spransy
Aaron Spransy

"Zany Antics" huh?Kevin Hoffman, way to pick on an old lady.

Who doesn't love an older women who drinks Crown Royal...awesome!Respect your elders people!!

Lemmy Caution
Lemmy Caution

If you want to create some real change, hit them where their pocketbooks are. Contact City Pages' advertisers and threaten/organise a boycott until this waste of journalistic space is fired. First, contact their national advertising and inform them of your intentions via the Village Voice parent:

Voice Media Group

voicemediagroup.com (602) 238-4800

Then, contact advertisers directly, voice your outrage, and let them know you won't be buying their products or using their services until something is done. Though there may be more advertisers, the list includes:

Bud LightCoors Light

AEG Live/Ticketmaster

TickethorseH&R BlockAmerican ApparelVillage Voice

OC Weekly/VOICE Daily DealsNYC government via NYC.gov and nycquits.orgJones Satre & Weime (CenterForUnpaidWages.com)Isle CasinoLake Wine SpiritsHennepin Theatre TrustMinneapolis Musical TheatreAT&T Performing Arts Center in DallasConcorde Career Institute

Heart of Sonoma Valley Winery AssociationKnight ArtsBellevue Arts MuseumWorld Erotic Art Museum (actually, that sounds pretty awesome!!!)Chicas Locas in HoustonEvergreen Apothecary in DenverLevy Restaurants in MiamiD PlaceBeautologic Cosmetic Surgery Center

Dallas County Community College District

Satellite ConsultantsRiverfront Times - Iron Fork 2012The Pet's Play PalaceVertical Endeavors

Mesa Festival of CreativityKona Grill

Wabasha Deli & Cafe

Barbette

Forepaughs

In this thinning journalistic world, advertisers dictate the game. And, if it can bring down Rush Limbaugh, better believe it can happen to this small fry.

Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson

I worked at City Pages for a semester in college in the late 90s, so I know the wormy type of person who works as a writer at an alternative weekly. It's a guy who would make fun of an old lady for reviewing the Olive Garden. I could think of no better way to describe the personalities of alternative weekly employees. Thank you Kevin Harris for that contribution to my mental storage trunk of seldom used metaphors.

However, I'm conflicted as to how I really feel about this, because I grew up in Grand Forks and truly hated Marilyn Hagerty's restaurant reviews, and almost everything else about the area. 

J.M.
J.M.

Kevin Hoffman -- I'll say what your interviewee was too polite to tell you (although she hinted at it): you're an asshole. Every attempt you make here to appear sophisticated and to cast Ms. Hagerty as a rube blows back in your face. You have demonstrated your callowness, your inability to read between the lines, you desperation, and your inhumanity. By contrast, she has demonstrated her patience, sophistication, and basic decency. I hope the fact that nearly everybody who has posted here seems to agree with my assessment will cause you to do some self-reflection. An apology might be in order -- not a Limbaugh-like faux-pology but one that actually demonstrates that you understand and regret the cravenness of this interview. Otherwise, good riddance to you.

J.M.
J.M.

I should add that it's disconcerting that the Twin Cities' major arts weekly is edited by an evident arrested adolescent who can only manage the most cornball and cruel "irony." You must work cheap.

fuzzcherry
fuzzcherry

Right now City Pages' two main headlines revolve around a pseudo prank phone call of a woman in her eighties and 91 year-old Sid Hartman joining Twitter. This publication's elitist (and now ageist) attitudes in nearly every story they post is deplorable. What the fuck is wrong with you, City Pages?

Newshound
Newshound

Marilyn has more respect than you ever will.

P.S. Learn how to edit a Q&A.

Cari
Cari

She was born in the 1920’s. You should have considered the wisdom she has, the things she has seen, and then taken advantage of her good will rather than this stupid, not-so-subtle attempt to mock her. I bet she would have been willing to share some of her knowledge with you rather than just tolerate your stupid, condescending questions. Why not ask her something interesting like about the changes in journalism, influence of chain restaurants on cuisine, impact of social media, changes in public civility, etc What a waste of her time and a lack of willingness to learn on yours. I recommend you apologize to her and your readers and then see if she would be willing to do another interview where you and your readers do gain from her wisdom.

xq
xq

"Merilyn Haggery ate both breadsticks. They were warm and delicious." i love this caption, but you spelled her name wrong in it. COME ON CITYPAGES COPYEDITORS.

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