Eclectic / News

What is The Curious Canine Kitchen hiding?

The pop-up restaurant for dogs that’s either the dog’s bollocks or a dog’s breakfast

It’s funny how your day can turn out, especially in odd and unexpected ways. I don’t usually write about dogs or dog food (if only because I’m a cat person), but my interest was piqued by a Tweet promoting a pop-up restaurant for dogs called The Curious Canine Kitchen. I almost immediately snorted in disbelief, not because I have anything against dogs, canine health or pop-up restaurants but because of the vague, wishy-washy language on The Curious Canine Kitchen website.

Although it’s careful to avoid making any specific claims, the implication is clear: the menu they serve is more nutritious than standard dog food. ‘It All Starts With Nutrition.’ ‘Inspiring healthier dog diets with nutritious dishes’. ‘High-end, freshly prepared, organic canine cuisine’. It sounded pseudo-scientific to me, so I Tweeted my scepticism in a single word and thought nothing more of it:

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
02/04/2015 19:06
Sigh “@FeedFidoFresh: Booking 11/12 April – UK’s first Holistic Diner For Dogs #Shoreditch curiouscaninekitchen.com pic.twitter.com/SZdu3NGIUj”

What happened next was unexpected. The restaurant’s Twitter presence, @FeedFidoFresh, started a conversation trying to convince me of the benefits of its menu which includes “Textures of Tripe with seaweed and kale puree, crispy Paddywack with reishi mushroom flaxseed cream and coconut and blueberry chia pudding with gluten-free cinnamon quinoa ‘dog biscuits’ “.

I’ve included the full Twitter transcript below, but to summarise @FeedFidoFresh repeatedly evaded my questions about whether they had any scientific, veterinary backing to substantiate their implied nutritional claims. The person tweeting became increasingly agitated as I pressed my questions, even though I remained polite, made plain that I wasn’t accusing them of any ill-intent and tried not to put words in their mouth. Eventually, they promised to send details of their veterinary proof via email. At the time of writing, no such proof has been provided.

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 02:47
.@pickyglutton Why does #NUTRITION make you sigh? That’s the point of this event while fundraising for charity. Dogs will thank us for it!

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 11:34
.@FeedFidoFresh what’s the veterinary/nutritional science behind the menu? Or have any vets signed off on it?

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 11:39
.@pickyglutton Tis based on the work of Juliette de Bairacli Levy, pioneer of herbal medicine +holistic dog care. All information on website

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 11:44
. @pickyglutton Suggest you watch this doc about her work before you judge / if interested in herbs cultureunplugged.com/play/8638

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 11:54
.@FeedFidoFresh so menu hasn’t been signed off by any vets? Not implying any ill intent, merely sceptical about prima facie vague stuff

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 12:02
@pickyglutton First actually see site before you begin such.. You will see sponsors/Diet Dog for all herbs etc.

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 12:08
.@FeedFidoFresh evading question isn’t assuaging my doubts. If answer is no, why not? To emphasise, not implying any ill intent on your part

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 12:11
@pickyglutton Excuse me I am certainlyNOT evading question. Every ingredient certified SAFE by vets otherwise would never use! CHECK WEBSITE

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 12:22
.@FeedFidoFresh no need to shout. So menu *has* been signed off by vet? And will they attest to the claimed nutritional benefits?

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 13:03
@pickyglutton I expect you are going to offer to volunteer as a waiter for this charity event after all this yes? Have you visited site?

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 13:24
.@FeedFidoFresh menu on site doesn’t answer any of my questions. If don’t want to answer, that is of course your right.

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 13:33
@pickyglutton I have answered yr question Twice now. ALL ingredients are passed. Do you want the surgery to send you an email? You can eat.

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 13:35
.@FeedFidoFresh details by email? Yes please.

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 13:38
@pickyglutton What is your email then?

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 13:49
@FeedFidoFresh pickyglutton@gmail.com

Given that this Twitter exchange largely happened in public (by preceding each Tweet with a full stop), I felt the need to apologise to any of my Twitter followers that had no interest in pop-up restaurants for dogs. The response from @FeedFidoFresh was baffling in its immaturity and hysterical nonsense.

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 13:34
Apologies to anyone bored to tears by that exchange. Classic example tho of how not to manage social media & PR

CuriousCanineKitchen (@FeedFidoFresh)
03/04/2015 13:37
@pickyglutton Considering this is a charity event. 100% goes to @AmazonCares What you are doing is particularly spiteful. Shame on you.

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
03/04/2015 13:48
.@FeedFidoFresh asking reasonable questions politely is a curious & dubious example of spite. And Ad Hominem is a very poor debating tactic

To re-iterate, despite a follow-up tweet, The Curious Canine Kitchen has still not provided any scientific proof to substantiate the nutritional benefits of their menu.

Picky Glutton (@pickyglutton)
09/04/2015 12:08
.@FeedFidoFresh hi! Never received promised report from your vet?

I therefore asked Dan Chan of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) for his opinion on the matter, passing on the link to the menu. Mr Chan is a Senior Lecturer in Emergency and Critical Care and a Clinical Nutritionist at the RVC. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. While Mr. Chan wouldn’t come out either for or against the menu, his reasons were illuminating: ‘It’s impossible to ascertain the nutritional appropriateness from a menu as it requires a detailed analysis of the ingredients, the amounts of each ingredient and the nutrient profile of each ingredient (most of which will be unknown for those ingredients) – so a chemical analysis would be required’ (emphasis added).

‘I therefore asked Dan Chan of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) for his opinion’

So to re-iterate, the nutrient profiles of most of the ingredients on The Curious Canine Kitchen’s menu are unknown to a qualified and experienced veterinary researcher. While this of course doesn’t categorically disprove The Curious Canine Kitchen’s claims, it does reinforce my initial scepticism. What do they know that a veterinary professional does not? It also gives me further reason to doubt @FeedFidoFresh’s belated assertion of having veterinary proof/backing for their claims of nutritional benefit. If it exists, why has it still not been publicly released? Or at least circulated among the veterinary community, either in a peer-reviewed journal or otherwise?

‘the nutrient profiles of most of the ingredients on The Curious Canine Kitchen’s menu are unknown to a highly qualified veterinary researcher’

My suspicion is that such proof does not exist and the belated assertion that it did exist was a feeble attempt to fob off further inquiry. Judging from their public statements so far, I don’t think the people behind The Curious Canine Kitchen are acting maliciously in continuing to publicise their unsubstantiated claims of nutritional benefit. They may well honestly believe their nutritional claims, but they probably don’t actually know them to be true – at least not to any rigorous standard.

‘My suspicion is that such proof does not exist’

Predictably, all of the sittings at the Curious Canine Kitchen are apparently sold out. While all those dog owners may well have a good time with their money apparently going to a charity (which is registered with the US IRS but oddly not with the Charities Commission in the UK), they are by no means assured of extra nutrition for their dogs compared to standard dog food.

-The Picky Glutton

Editorial notes: I decided not to press The Curious Canine Kitchen on their assertion that their menu is based on the work of Juliette de Bairacli Levy. Ms Levy died in 2009 and therefore almost certainly had no direct input into their menu. This is also why I decided not to further investigate the validity of Ms Levy’s work as a whole – my interest here is whether The Curious Canine Kitchen’s claims about their menu can be substantiated or not.

Aside from adding bold to make the Twitter transcripts easier to read, they have not been edited in any way.

Technical aside: the technologically astute among you will be wondering why the Twitter transcriptions are just plain text, lacking the usual avatars etc. It turns out that Twitter only lets you easily embed individual Tweets, not whole conversations, and even then you have to copy and paste the HTML code for each individual Tweet which is long-winded tedium I can do without. I tried using Storify, but that was no more effective given its surprisingly poor integration with Twitter. In the end, I opted to use Tweetbot. Using this splendid iOS Twitter app, I quickly and simply emailed the entire conversation transcripts to myself albeit only in plain text. I may eventually embed the Twitter HTML blocks for a more aesthetically pleasing article. But I probably won’t.

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13 thoughts on “What is The Curious Canine Kitchen hiding?

  1. It is a shame you felt the need to publicly drag this out and then share it in a blog post – whomever was responsible. Whether or not the diet is veterinary endorsed or not should it matter so much to you, as you clearly state, you are not usually interested in dog nutrition? As an owner of a young dog with a number of serious medical conditions, including bowel disease, such a diet has been transformational and by far a better choice than the many veterinary endorsed specialist dog diets – quite a lucrative industry too. Don’t get me wrong, our dog sees a team of veterinary specialists for his condition, his Gastro Specialist at the RVC is supportive of our choices and his natural diet has significantly improved his health. The Curious Canine Kitchen are just that – a dog kitchen for those curious to pursue a more natural approach to nutrition for their beloved four legged foodies. May I suggest you tap into the worldwide natural nutrition movement perhaps as a far more effective way to avoid ‘needless gout’ for yourself and your readers.

    • Hi Charlotte,

      If you look beyond my slogan (which is intended to be humorous), you’ll see that my website is ultimately concerned with two main things – whether businesses, in this case restaurants, are dealing honestly with their customers and whether what they provide is good value or not.

      It is therefore of no surprise that I took an interest in the Curious Canine Kitchen. In peddling psuedoscientific claims that they cannot prove, they are, intentionally or not, deceiving their customers. If the media are not allowed to inquire into such outfits and their claims, what is to stop even less scrupulous businesses from making up any old nonsense and getting away with it? Nonsense that could not only have no benefit, but even be harmful?

      I will also point out that the Curious Canine Kitchen initiated a public discussion with me, not the other way around, and they must have been well aware that I write articles for public consumption. If they had merely marketed their meals as a fun diversion for pet owners and their animals, then I would’ve had no qualms with their business. But selling what may well be half-baked pseudoscience, being rude, aggressive and immature when asked about it and then, I suspect, actively lying about having proof to back up their flim flam is a series of reprehensible behaviours are that are beyond the pale.

      I obviously can’t speak with any authority regarding your own experiences with your pet. If an alternative diet has definitively given qualitative and/or quantitative medical benefits to your own pet, then I am of course happy for you. And, believe it or not, I still have an open mind as to whether alternative diets can be beneficial or not – for humans and non-humans alike. But this has to be proven, not just based on belief – no matter how feverishly such belief is held. Unless the Curious Canine Kitchen, or the people behind it, designed the medically beneficial diet for your pet and the improvement in your pet’s condition can be causally linked to that diet, then I suspect you are letting your own experiences cloud your judgement in this case. To put it another way by posing a counterfactual, would you have objected to my inquiries and my article if, all other things being equal, I had uncovered scientific backing for the Curious Canine Kitchen’s claims? I very much doubt it.

      I’m sorry if you feel offended in any way, but I won’t apologise for asking reasonable, reasoned questions politely and publicly and then publishing the results of my inquiries.

      Kind regards and all the best,

      The Picky Glutton

      • This appears to be a somewhat pointless attack on an otherwise harmless, fun and informative event.

        As someone with an interest in food it is surprising that you quote “what is to stop even less scrupulous businesses from making up any old nonsense and getting away with it? Nonsense that could not only have no benefit, but even be harmful?” Goodness, you mean claims the likes of McDonalds, Coca Cola etc have been making for years?

        The Curious Canine Kitchen to many is The ‘Common sense’ Canine Kitchen, and that, for those who choose a more natural diet, is a fact.

      • Charlotte,

        I’m honestly not sure if you’ve honestly misunderstood everything that I’ve written until this point, or whether you’re attempting to deliberately misconstrue and distort what I’ve written. If I were mounting an ‘attack’, I would not have given The Curious Canine Kitchen opportunities to withdraw from the discussion, a right to reply or the benefit of the doubt. Nor would have I gone through the effort of sourcing an opinion from a qualified and experienced clinical veterinarian.

        Avoiding almost all of the points I raised in my first reply and then attempting to change the topic of discussion by mentioning irrelevant brands is the type of poor debating tactic I’d expect from The Curious Canine Kitchen Twitter user. It is not what I would expect from someone who is apparently (from your registration details) professionally linked to Group Eight/greight.com, ‘a global business development & brand management group’. Although does all that mean you do, or do not, support the right of the media to conduct inquiries?

        If I understand your last, somewhat poorly-written sentence correctly then I object to the distorted use of words such as ‘common sense’ and ‘fact’ as synonyms for what are still unproven, pseudoscientific claims about nutritional benefit. You may feverishly believe in such claims, but there is still no evidence for them.

        What I find especially interesting is your forthright statement that it was a ‘harmless, fun and informative event’, which implies some first hand knowledge of the meal(s), and the passion evident in your last sentence. Does that mean you are/were a customer of the Curious Canine Kitchen? Or are they (at the risk of giving you more ammunition for another feeble and futile diversion) one of your ‘brand management’ clients? Did they design the remedial menu for your pet, as mentioned in your last reply? Would the supportive RVC Gastro Specialist you mentioned be willing to comment?

        At this point I’m not expecting any substantive answers to any of my questions, from either yourself or the Curious Canine Kitchen, nor am I holding my breath for any intellectually coherent, tactically sound discourse from yourself. But, if nothing else, I am even more intrigued than ever.

        -The Picky Glutton

      • I felt passionate enough to comment on your blog entry which I felt required no need to publish, as you said, you usually have no interest in dogs or dog food for that matter. That you have now decided to publicly share information that I have selected as private here is as ridiculous as insinuating that I am acting on behalf of this pop up. I have nothing to do with the Canine Kitchen, simply your article came up in a search out of my curiosity in attending this event – as I have pointed out – I have an active interest as an owner of a dog with serious medical issues. Your comments in your final paragraph are incredibly insulting and with that in mind I will most certainly not be entering any further discourse.

      • Oh Charlotte.

        I hadn’t realised free speech and the right of the media to conduct inquiries into potentially suspect business practices and unproven claims, based on what may be pseudoscience, was dependent on one’s repertoire or CV. Such a feeble argument along with, in your latest reply, distorting an honest and reasonable question into an ‘insinuation’, evading all other questions and continuing to avoid all the other substantive points that I’ve raised are but the latest examples of your poor quality discourse.

        I have no respect for your ability to write or debate coherently and persuasively as you have, thus far, consistently failed to do so.

        Let’s put it another way:

        The facts (actual facts, not a ‘fact’ derived from a derisible circular argument):
        1. The Curious Canine Kitchen charged people money for meals.
        2. These meals were intended for the customers’ dogs.
        3. The Curious Canine Kitchen claims that their meals offer nutritional benefit.
        4. Thus far, the Curious Canine Kitchen has not supplied any veterinary/scientific proof to back up their claims despite promising to do so.

        Interpretation of expert opinion
        An opinion from a qualified and experienced veterinary researcher gives me reasonable doubt that such evidence exists

        Unanswered questions
        1. If this evidence exists, why has the Curious Canine Kitchen not provided it as promised?
        2. If it does not exist, why did the Curious Canine Kitchen lie about its existence?

        Nothing that you have contributed thus far has altered or given me any reason to doubt any of the above. You have thus far failed to elaborate on any potential contributions you could make, either in terms of facts or potential further expert opinion.

        I have no respect for your ability to write or debate coherently and persuasively as you have, thus far, consistently failed to do so.

        -The Picky Glutton

  2. If The Curious Canine Kitchen started a dialogue with you, it is because they believe in what they do, but care more about their cause than learning proper PR techniques. Human holistic diets are scientifically debated as well. Just leave them alone. Their hearts are in the right places, they didn’t rip anyone off, and they existed for 2 days (the organizer is moving to the US). If you do any research on Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education & Safety (www.amazoncares.org), you will find we are a well respected animal welfare charity. Natty visited Peru and was impressed with our work. We are on a shoestring budget, and have no paid employees at all other than in Peru.
    Natty takes this so personally and her heart is in the right place. Can’t we all just get along. Every tiny bit of money she raises for @AmazonCares saves many animals. We have a website at http://www.amazoncares.org, but our volunteer webmaster went to vet school, and I don’t know how to update it (I’m in law school studying animal law, so my time is also limited). That’s why I’m referencing our FB page in my signature below.

    • Hi Molly,

      Thanks for commenting.

      I have no opinion or stance about Amazon Cares [or at least I didn’t until a certain immature Tweet was sent]. I certainly do not wish any harm to any legitimate charity.

      But I don’t find your defence of the Curious Canine Kitchen to be at all persuasive, if only because you haven’t substantially addressed any of my concerns. I’ll refer you to the content of my original article and my replies to Charlotte, especially my summary of the state of affairs in my most recent reply to Charlotte.

      I will also emphasise points that I should’ve made in my original article: raising money for charity does not justify peddling unproven claims – especially if they are based on what may well be pseudoscience. Additionally, raising money for charity does not give one the right to attempt to silence reasonable questions asked politely. One can decline to answer, of course.

      I have no personal quarrel with any of the people behind the Curious Canine Kitchen, even though at least one person whom I conversed with via Twitter behaved very immaturely. I believe I acted fairly and reasonably during the initial Twitter conversation and in my reporting. I gave opportunities to withdraw from the discussion, the benefit of the doubt and a right to reply. That right to reply is still open. That right, of course, does not have to be exercised if one does not wish to use it.

      I continue to stand by every word.

      -The Picky Glutton

      • You are 100% correct about my inappropriate tweet earlier. I was upset on Nattie’s behalf. The charity is very close to my heart. I told you that I am in law school, training to be an animal lawyer. I don’t have time to raise money anymore, and somebody enthusiastic like Natty is a blessing for a small charity. As for the nutritional claims, I have no knowledge or scientific education to make a comment. In the Amazon, we are happy to provide any type of dog food rather than odd scraps many homeless dogs struggle to find. I will delete my immature tweet. I know this is not a personal feud for you, and there is much room for intelligent conversation about the benefits of holistic diets for dogs. There is also discussion about vegetarian diets for dogs. As i said, I am not a dog nutrition expert, merely a rescuer. Natty’s heart is in the right place. The dogs and their owners had a lovely night. I appreciate your journalistic integrity,

      • Clearly eating and hiding behind your guise as the ‘Picky Glutton’ leaves you with some time on your hands. Once again, we are simply passionate about the care of our animals and as I have expressed I am in no way linked, yet you continue with your defensive, repetitive dialogue. To refer to yourself as a member of the British media is somewhat grand and your means of inquiry is quite distasteful. Please stop, you are doing enough damage and your argument is now pointless and rather upsetting.

      • Oh Charlotte.

        You really do have very little of substance to contribute, so you’ve now resorted to what you accused me of earlier – mounting an attack. You’ve made my day, you really have.

        -The Picky Glutton

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