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This…is insane. Can anyone explain who thought this would be a good idea?

Apparently, several New York-based food writers were invited to a “secret restaurant” private opening hosted by television chef George Duran (who, coincidentally, happens to be ConAgra‘s celebrity chef spokesman). But the invitation-only opening of “Sotto Terra” in the West Village took a bizarre turn when the writers realized that Sotto Terra wasn’t a “secret restaurant” at all–it was a good ol’ bait-and-switch sales pitch for Marie Callender frozen dinners.

Lon at FoodMayhem.com recounts his simultaneously hilarious and disturbing experience in an open letter to Duran:

“As we ate the ‘cheesy garlic bread’ I said aloud how incredibly salty it was. Jessica, her neighbor to the right, and the couple across from us all agreed. Another guest said it wasn’t garlicky enough. The cheese tasted cheap and like a lot of fat was added. Your exuberance extended our patience and we figured it was a minor fumble, we moved on. But then, the entrées came out. Generic-looking lasagna of the type I’d expect to find in my elementary school cafeteria. But whoa, where was my wife’s cube of the dish? Instead she received zucchini with a light tomato and shallot sauce with a side of cous cous. We asked why and they said ‘there might be food coloring’ in the lasagna. Sojourn here a moment. We eat… a lot… at many places… around the world. We have never heard of anything like this. Why on Earth would a chef color an entree like lasagna? (hint #4)

“It was a lucky thing Jessica mentioned her allergy to artificial food coloring as her topic of interest.  Had she not, it would’ve been a fun night thanks to your fraudulent ‘food.’”

Even crazier? The event was apparently being taped hidden camera-style in an attempt to capture testimonials for a commercial. According to Lon, the evening unfolded sort of like this…

Lon wraps up his open letter by saying that the event was more than just a bad idea; it was blatantly disrespectful.

“Let’s consider a more personal hypothetical: George, how would you feel if invited to my home, fed chicken cordon bleu, and then afterwards informed that we had secretly stuffed the cavity with entrails of rats found in the street, cleansed using various chemicals from the utility closet, such as bleach (also food safe in small quantities).

“Perhaps I’m not being clear enough: DO NOT FEED GUESTS FOOD THEY SAID THEY DO NOT WANT.  It’s bad enough you feed that non-food to anyone, but you crossed the line.”

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