Food Critic Whose Olive Garden Review Made News Remembers How Anthony Bourdain Supported Her

Wikimedia Commons and Grand Forks Herald

Back in 2012, a food critic’s review of a new Olive Garden restaurant went viral. People on the Internet and even websites were joining in to make fun of her review.

At the time, Marilyn Hagerty was 88-years-old. She lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota. As a food columnist for the local Grand Forks Herald, she wrote a review of the new Olive Garden in town. She called it “the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks.”


marilyn hagerty
Grand Forks Herald

According to Buzzfeed, her review said, “The chicken Alfredo ($10.95) was warm and comforting on a cold day. The portion was generous. My server was ready with Parmesan cheese.”

People all over the web started making fun of Marilyn. They laughed at her for reviewing Olive Garden at all, and made fun of the fact that she really enjoyed it.


In his tweets, Anthony Bourdain defended Marilyn when the review went viral and was happy to see her “triumph over the snarkologists.”

“Marilyn Hagerty’s years of reviews to be a history of dining in America too few of us from the coasts have seen. We need to see,” he also tweeted.

After her Internet rise to fame, she went to New York to do media rounds and actually met with Anthony Bourdain for coffee. She ended up getting a book deal out of the whole thing. She eventually published a book of her reviews — Bourdain edited the book and even wrote the foreword.

grand forks
NY Daily News

In the foreword, he praised her for being a hard-working food writer with knowledge of her community.

“She is never mean — even when circumstances would clearly excuse a sharp elbow, a cruel remark,” he wrote. “In fact, watching Marilyn struggle to find something nice to say about a place she clearly loathes is part of the fun. She is, unfailingly, a good neighbor and good citizen first — and entertainer second.”

Marilyn said she was shocked to hear about Bourdain’s death and called it “sad, shocking news.” She only met with him once in New York but still looks fondly on that day and her time spent with Bourdain.


“Anthony Bourdain spoke up for me at a time when people all over the country were making great fun of the column I write,” Hagerty told BuzzFeed News. “To have a man of his stature rise up and befriend me, it meant a lot to me.”

anthony Bourdain
Wikimedia Commons

“You know, sometimes you go through life and… you think about all the wonderful things that happened to you,” she said. “And one of the wonderful things that happened to me was when Anthony Bourdain spoke up for me and wanted to publish my columns in a book.”

What a touching story! If you enjoyed this article, please pass along to a friend!

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