A Letter from Nancy McConnell
September 15, 2021
A recent article was posted by Ian Froeb a food critic at the St. Louis Post Dispatch in regards to the re-opening of our beloved Stone Soup Cottage. I wanted to take a moment to process before I wrote an official statement. At first I did not want to dignify such a hit piece and give one moment of attention to such a reckless "journalist". But as a wife, mother and small business owner it is my duty to reach out so this can never happen to another family or business owner again.
Mr. Froeb wrote a scathing article about our reopening and in it cited a personal family matter that happened almost 2 years ago. In it he dug up a police report about an incident that was in no way related to our business or our reopening and exciting future plans.
Mr. Froeb did not at anytime attempt to contact me, Carl's wife and business partner, to collaborate the details of which he so recklessly reported. Had he done his due diligence before trying to ruin a man's career and good name and try to destroy a family he would have realized that the police report that he copied and pasted was inaccurate.
Had he further researched, as a reputable journalist would have done, he would have seen that affidavits had been filed in the court by the parties stating that there was no prior history of such instances and that there were details in that report that were miswritten as often they can be.
Had Mr. Froeb contacted me he would have been told this and that the personal family matter which happened again almost 2 years ago was irrelevant. To reopen and publicize such a sad and personal time in our life in order to further his career is disgraceful. We have children, we are family and we have weathered the storm and have become stronger than we ever have been. We have worked together as a family for the past 18 months providing the acclaimed boutique Cottage to Carriage delivery program. Mr. Froeb knew this. Yet he still posed the question...are you closing because of a family incident? Disgraceful.
Mr. Froeb is a food critic. He makes a living reporting on all things related to food and we have had a wonderful relationship with him over the past years. I would have welcomed him calling me and asking about this. But he never gave us that opportunity. He saw a chance for a hit piece and ran with it. In turn, other publications reported on this without again following up with the main source - me.
So why am I giving attention to this? Again it is so this never happens to another business or family. Mr. Froeb has a very powerful position in the food scene. In fact, he assists the James Beard Foundation in nominating restaurants for such a coveted award. He can make or break a business with a few clicks on a keyboard. We rely on food critics to be ethical and fair and to report on restaurant's food not dig up personal family issues in the past.
As a restaurant we know that we are subject to food reviews. In fact, Mr. Froeb has throughout the years reported on just that and has given us the #1 restaurant in St. Louis and top 5 throughout the years. We have worked extremely hard to provide our guests with amazing food, service and hospitality. This current piece posted yesterday was in no way part of a food critic's role.
He holds an authoritative position of influence and is followed by many. Such a person with that editorial power holds a great responsibility to his audience. Most importantly to the incredible restaurants and chefs and their families who work tirelessly day in and day out in an extremely stressful profession sacrificing so much. He should be lifting us up not tearing us down as the industry recovers from such a devastating 2 years.
I would wonder at this time what the beloved Joe Bonwich, God rest his soul, would think had he read this article with our family yesterday. A journalist who lived and breathed the coveted distinction of a true food critic with care and compassion and fairness. Joe was a dear friend of our family and my guess, if he was still with us today, he would be saddened that his profession was so tarnished.
Within the last 24 hours we have received the most loving support from those in the industry and our amazing guests. My family can not thank you enough for showing such compassion and grace.
We so look forward to our re-opening in September and the exciting future plans for Stone Soup Cottage Farm.
With gratitude and appreciation,