A leading London restaurant critic has accused a chef of sending threatening messages following a negative review

The critic revealed the tense exchanges in their latest column

Updated on 11 July 2019 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

A leading London restaurant critic has accused a chef of sending threatening messages following a negative review

One of London’s foremost restaurant critics has accused a chef of sending him threatening text messages and leaving aggressive voicemails following the publication of a negative review.

William Sitwell, who is the Daily Telegraph’s restaurant critic, has alleged that chef Richard Wilkins of Notting Hill restaurant 104 has sent him several abusive messages. Detailing the exchanges in his most recent restaurant column, Sitwell said that Wilkins first made contact with him via voicemail at 12:30am following the review’s publication. He claims the voicemail featured Wilkins saying: “I’m going to be waiting for you. I’m going to come and find you. Things are going to get really dirty. I mean it, I seriously mean it.”

The 48-year-old critic started at the Daily Telegraph in January 2019

The messages then took a darker turn, with Sitwell alleging that Wilkins also threatened to disrupt one of the critic’s supper clubs, which he hosts at his family’s expansive Northamptonshire estate. “Maybe I’ll turn up to one of your supper clubs and spoil it,” the chef said in a voicemail, “Let’s see. It’s only going to get worse.”

The communications begun after Sitwell published a dissaproving review of 104 entitled "Note to chef: make sure you check that innovation is functional, not unsettling", in which he labelled a dish involving Challans duck as "undercooked and chewy" and found a dessert of chocolate moelleux to be "too cold...to appreciate the chocolate." As well as the sinister voicemails, Sitwell also claims that Wilkins sent him hostile text messages, in which he told Sitwell “you won’t be able to avoid me for long” and that the journalist would have to “get used to having [Wilkins] in the back of your mind wherever you go.”

One of the desserts available at 104 Restaurant

This is not the first time that Sitwell has attracted controversy. In October of 2018, he stepped down from his job as editor of Waitrose Food magazine after sending a mocking email to freelance journalist Selene Nelson in which he suggested that the plant-based writer should pen a feature on “killing vegans”. Nelson subsequently leaked the information to the press, leading to Sitwell’s departure. Just three months later he began his new position at the Daily Telegraph.

Since the publication of our article, Wilkins got in touch with us to give his side of the story.