The Boston Globe Magazine examines Todd English's "wild ride" in this week's issue, wondering why Boston can't let him go even though he has "seemed to lose interest in the city that made him famous." (A corollary to that question, veering into meta territory, is whether it's actually "Boston" that won't let him go or just the media, which "gleefully" covers everything from his "algae-green eyes" to the downfall of the flagship Olives, not to mention "his fumbles, mishaps, and personal foibles, of which there are no shortage: lawsuits, a jilted bride, playboying, posing.") Here now are the most interesting tidbits from the Globe piece.
· There's an obligatory second-paragraph mention of his "movie star good looks" (and the fact that he wears sunglasses indoors). "Cameras and women love him, and he loves them both right back."
· He fired a gun on his birthday at Olives New York. "It's unclear when or from where English got the gun, but suddenly there it was, nestled in his right hand. With a hoot, he raised it and fired toward the restaurant's ceiling. The crowd was silent. Even English himself appeared shocked. Then he fired again." (Fourteen paragraphs later, it's revealed that it was merely a "fairly realistic" prop. "Todd's personality is like the Wild West, you know what I mean? Yee-haw!" said Daniel Koch, a nightlife entrepreneur.)
· There's a look back at his past, the timeline of how he became famous in the first place. Various alum from his kitchens point to his dreams, impulsiveness, boundless energy, and creativity. "He has a personal fortitude that's infectious. And when he cranks up the difficulty level for himself, and for you, and then you succeed," said Tiffani Faison (Sweet Cheeks Q), who worked in Bonfire, Olives, and more. But despite his larger-than-life persona, he's "secretly shy," said former Globe restaurant critic Alison Arnett.
· It was around 2002 when deals started going badly, money was owed, and restaurants were closing. English told a reporter in 2003 that he was "the king of bootstrapping. I rob Peter to pay Paul all the time." English was "becoming known as someone you had to chase after to collect your rent, or perhaps the fee for those tomatoes you sold him last summer."
· "I'm not a financial genius," English admitted years ago. Recent years have seen the local closures of Olives and Kingfish Hall with English allegedly owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent.
· Despite at least a decade of many things going wrong, plenty of things are also going right. English is expanding to far-off locales like Abu Dhabi and pulling in an estimated yearly salary around $11 million, and his name can be found not just on restaurants but on things like oven mitts and cookbooks. His PR team claims that he's not "moving on" from Boston by any means, but only two Figs and an airport Bonfire remain, and his daughter's cupcake shop, and his legacy: "Over 20 years, he has built Boston's dining scene in a way that cannot be destroyed or diminished, paving the way for countless others, pushing his chefs to be better for years after they no longer remain his chefs," asserts the Globe.
CORRECTION: Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey were not actually at English's birthday party, as previously stated. Colin Cowie, who has worked as their event planner, was there.