Over the past couple of months I’ve been following the infamous chef James Stocks. Many of you will remember his ill-fated tenure at the fabulous Balbirnie House in Fife, where he was labelled ‘Walter Mitty’ after Marco Pierre White described him as such, before he had a remarkable recollection of memory.
Many people have been inquiring as to when the James Stocks post is going live, possibly anticipating my acidic sarcasm and curiosity to slice through Mr Stocks like a hot knife through butter. They seem to view him as fair game, yes he’ll admit it himself that he’s made mistakes, yet he’s remarkably stubborn when people are willing to offer an olive branch.
OK, let’s tackle the one question I get asked the most, the Twitter followers. Nobody is going to admit that they have bought Twitter followers, after all it’s going to make you look vain & insecure at the very least & egotistical at best. But as many of you will know who follow me on Twitter, I’ve tweeted the going rate after receiving a spam email:
Just had an email about buying Twitter followers. Apparently going rate is $20 for 10,000 as so many have asked me about it
So, has James Stocks bought Twitter followers? I suspect yes but as with most things like this it would be hard to prove. What I can prove is this. Everybody on the social networks generates a Klout score. Klout is a widely regarded unit of measurement concerning how much influence you have over people you interact with on the internet. So, for example Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) with her 31 million followers has a Klout score of 93, Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay01) with his 1.1Million followers has 85, and me? With my 4000+ followers I have a Klout score of 60. So with over 116,00 followers how is it that James Stocks only has a score of 48? What reinforces this even more is that when I tweet or do a Facebook update I can see the effect it has on blog traffic, yet the one time Mr Stocks re-tweeted (repeated my original tweet to his followers) how many people do you think actually clicked through? 100, 50, 10? No, none, a big fat zero. Naturally that isn’t Mr Stocks’ fault, but it does make you wonder, especially when you start looking at his twitter growth figures.
Using websites designed for this very purpose, I can document James Stocks’ follower growth, which again raises suspicions.
August 17th @ 52,389 followers but for the next 5days +6768( –/+2) followers every day.
August 24th @ 88,723 followers but for the next 3 days +2669( –/+2) followers every day.
August 31st @97,351 followers but for the next 5 days +4024( –/+1) followers every day.
And yet there is a constant gradual decline in between these miraculous growth spurts. If anybody else would care to look, please feel free: Twittercounter.com I would also like to point out that Mr Stocks has never denied or confirmed either way, to artificially inflating his Twitter followers.
Next let’s look at Mr Stocks’ new products which he openly flaunts on Twitter. Some have said that they are ‘photo-shopped’ images and that no actual products really exist. During the course of researching this post I found the name of Mr Stocks’ range of knives for the home cook:
Graphite by James Stocks
Surprisingly, after using eight different search engines (because they all will retrieve information in slightly different ways), I could only find that they appear on the internet just once, and that appears in James’ bio for a chef recruitment agency, which it seems, promoted him in Turkey as a Michelin starred chef.
Moving on to Turkey, again Mr Stocks always seems to bang the drum that he has several restaurants globally, but mainly in Turkey. I have seen, and taken screen grabs that James has eateries in Beijing, Istanbul along with forthcoming outlets in Glasgow & a country house hotel in rural Scotland. Yet when I scour the Net looking for references, web addresses & any form of PR, all I can really find is that he did three appearances, back to back, at three different venues: Candlestick Park; Chilam & Beymen Brasserie at a Turkish food festival earlier this year.
Now as I write this post, there is lots of too-ing & fro-ing, looking at the various subject matter and the one thing that ties James Stocks to most other chefs is accolades. Mr Stocks claims in various bio’s that he has won or has been described as:
- Won~Scotland’s National Restaurant of the Year.
- Won~Multiple AA Rosettes.
- Described~ “described on ITV as the new Gordon Ramsay.”
- Described~”an ambassador for the Princes Trust”.
- Described~”best known to television viewers who see him on Fox, Food Network, CNN, NBC”
So I’ll attempt to sort the fact from the fiction.
Did James Stocks win Scotland’s National Restaurant of the Year? Yes he did, in 2008 despite only being at Balbirnie for a total of 5 months, James Stocks at the Orangery won Restaurant of the year 2008. See this PDF, page 8
Has James Stocks won multiple AA rosettes? Yes he has. James Stocks at the Orangery is listed in the AA Restaurant guide for 2009 at two rosettes. Some way short of the 3Michelin stars he allegedly has tattooed on his fore arm.
James Stocks has a “syndicated newspaper column appears in 11 newspapers reaching more than 13.4 million people each month.”? Again working on the assumption that at least 1 of the 11 newspapers were to post online it would surely flag up? But no, nothing unless you count these two recipes on Dudetable: Fish with caviar & white foam & Lamb with vegetables .
Was James Stocks described on ITV as “the new Gordon Ramsay.”? This is quite a tough question to answer, as there isn’t any real evidence to support it. Mr Stocks claims it was verbal, but as the YouTube clip below clearly shows, it was a header into the programme.
So the actual quote is: “the new Gordon Ramsay?” with the question mark signifying it’s a question, rather than a statement of fact or opinion.
Is James Stocks an Ambassador for The Princes Trust? Some of you may remember not so long ago a minor spat on twitter which became public after James & myself exchanged nearly 40 direct messages. I’d emailed the Trust after inquiring as to the validity of his claim. I confronted Mr Stocks with this information and his reply was that it was a fake & I didn’t have the guts to go public with it. To which I replied in my typical way:
So it seems that Mr James Stocks thinks I lack bollox to put an email on twitter. 1high court injunction & 2lawyer’s letters says I’m not!!
And here is a transcript of that email:
I have spoken to our ambassadors team here at The Trust and they have not heard of James and confirm that he is definitely NOT an ambassador of The Prince’s Trust.
Our digital marketing team recognise him, but not in a professional capacity.
Hope this is of assistance to you.
| Customer Services Administrator
Subsequently not long after the eruption on twitter, another email arrived from The Princes Trust compounding matters:
This is to confirm that James Stocks is an Ambassador for The Trust in Scotland. I can provide more detail if you require it. I believe you may have received incorrect information previously. I am very sorry for any confusion.
| Deputy Director of Communications | The Prince’s Trust, 18 Park Square East, London, NW1 4LH
I apologised to Mr Stocks and it seemed we moved on, although something didn’t quite sit right. So at the time of writing this, I’m awaiting yet another email from the Trust with answers to some of my questions.
Additional material received 20th November 2012 from The Princes ‘s Trust:
Apologies, for the delay in coming back to you. In response to the questions you sent last week:
Yes, James has a red pin and he has offered to support the charity’s work as an ambassador in Scotland. There are no restrictions around where somebody is resident. People are invited to become charity ambassadors to support the Trust’s work helping disadvantaged young people into jobs and training. Like all our supporters, they wear a red pin badge to demonstrate their support of our cause.
| PR Manager | The Prince’s Trust, 18 Park Square East, London, NW1 4LH
James Stocks is ”best known to television viewers who see him on Fox, Food Network, CNN, NBC”?Again yet another claim which is hard to substantiate. There is this clip of Mr Stocks on Turkish CNN:
but after that, nothing, I’ve sifted through pages of search engines & couldn’t find anything.
James Stocks has an endorsed/branded product range coming out next year? Well here’s the curious thing. Mr Stocks regularly flaunts images on Twitter trying to get people interested in these products, such as this branded chopping board:
But let’s put it into context, is it real? Make up your own mind with it next to an image I found on the internet:
Sure the colour is marginally different but that could be altered easily. Look closer at say, the grain of the wood. Remarkable no?
All in all I spent over 10 days, on & off researching Mr Stocks and even when you Google him there are the ubiquitous websites that seem to hog the front page of Google: Twitter; Facebook;Linked In; etc. even when you get to over 15 pages in there isn’t that much to discover.
I grew bored of the pages that had been cached & deleted by various websites and this is principally because James Stocks took a number of publications to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). Mr Stocks maintains that he received compensation from each of the publications, where as the PCC website only says it negotiated the removal or retraction of articles. I’ve approached some of the publications concerned & one which didn’t want to be named said that no compensation was paid & as a precaution they removed all material relating to Mr Stocks.
Mr Stocks, who has clearly been facing an up hill battle on Twitter fails to understand how the world of PR works. He was even mistaken in thinking that he could pay me a fee for some positive tweets until I pointed out:
People already come to me if they want to give me stories. The blog is at no point up for sale or can be bought
He did retract it by saying it was a genuine mistake, but you have to wonder. I have pointed out to Mr Stocks that he’s going to struggle on the PR front, just because he feels vindicated that he’s won all his cases at the PCC, what makes him think that anybody will publish any of his press releases or review any of his properties?
Let’s not forget how we all came to know the name James Stocks? It was some very shady practices in recruitment and somebody being economical with the truth.
I’d like to offer James Stocks the same advice that many have offered him:
Get your head down & let your food do the talking.
I’m now done with Mr Stocks, I’m bored of the whole sorry episode, but hats off to him. He became infamous four years ago for the wrong reasons & we’re still talking about him today. Comments will be open, but as usual they will be moderated so please bear this in mind when trying to post.