For a college student, Bryan Zupon receives more publicity than anyone who isn’t a Division I athlete. After the big write-up in the New York Times Magazine followed by a semi-critical article in the News & Observer, Bryan and his Z Kitchen were featured this morning in a fairly detailed piece on the Today Show.
I was a little upset when I was the first one to be quoted in the mainstream press for paying Bryan money to cover his food costs, and Bryan has publicly stated that he didn’t want the attention. I didn’t want Zupon to be the target of misdirected (or misguided) scrutiny. I actually received some negative comments questioning why I would want to be aiding and abetting an allegedly illegal operation. I felt bad for Bryan, hoping things would just fade away, just like he claimed he wanted.
Well, after this piece, I question whether Bryan is being honest with us, let alone with himself. If you want to avoid scrutiny and truly keep your place “underground,” you shun the attention. Accept the fact that the glory of an underground eating establishment is the attention and praise of your guests, and the word-of-mouth attention the meals foster. The discussion of Z Kitchen on eGullet clearly shows that Bryan Zupon did not shy away from any discussions of what he was doing — he sought out attention. The story of Z Kitchen was extensively written up in print and online media. He’s become an underground star.
I’m happy for all the attention Bryan is getting, and it is well-deserved, but he needs to be less disingenuous and start admitting that he is not trying to hide from the limelight. I just have trouble with how he says he tried to stop stories about Z Kitchen from being written, and then he later shows off for a national television audience. Admit it, Bryan, that you enjoy being a media star — it’s really OK. Just enjoy the ride, Bryan, and milk it for all its worth. But realize that if this all comes crashing down on you, you brought it on yourself.