Home / Live Wire / Bourdain’s starter menu: Humble pie with foot-in-mouth; Live Wire dissects Sabga-Aboud’s apology

Bourdain’s starter menu: Humble pie with foot-in-mouth; Live Wire dissects Sabga-Aboud’s apology

One serving of humble pie with a side order of foot in mouth please? And can I get some olive oil to go with that?

The Trinidad and Tobago have-nots scored a rare but fitting victory today as Mario Sabga-Aboud, a prominent local businessman and respected member of the Syrian/Lebanese community, apologised for comments made on CNN’s “Parts Unknown” show with host Anthony Bourdain.

Photo: American chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain is the host of TV show Parts Unknown.

And by “fitting”, Mr Live Wire means that Sabga-Aboud’s apology to the “man on the promenade” was free, empty and non-redeemable at any of the Global Brands Group of Companies.

Oh gorm, Super Mario, you couldn’t give us a coupon for Pizza Boys self?

Anyway, lesson learnt and we thank you, Sir. Don’t do that again!

So, you might ask—if you were too distracted by arguably more important things like flooding in south Trinidad, the disappearing CAL subsidy, the cybercrime bill, murders, suicides, sport and virtually anything else in the news—what did Sabga-Aboud say?

Well Sabga-Aboud, over an appetising dinner and surrounded by members of the Syrian/Lebanese community, suggested to Bourdain that, although theirs was one of the smallest ethnic groups in Trinidad, it was “the most powerful, almost the most powerful.”

The ice well and truly broken, other dinner guests chimed with equally outrageous and hateful comments such as “Trinidad has been good to us and we know it” and “life has been good to us in Trinidad.”

Photo: I slaved all day over this… Well, maybe ‘slaved’ isn’t the best word…
American chef and tv personality Anthony Bourdain (centre) is a dinner guest of the Syrian/Lebanese community.

The unmitigated gall! So, wealthy people generally think life is good? Smh. It is just as we all feared. Thank God for Bourdain and his not-so-secret cameras.

Unsurprisingly, the statements brought howls of protest from many of the same Facebookers who, paradoxically, argued that Bourdain’s show did not make Trinidad and Tobago seem “inviting” enough.

The silver-haired Peter George suggested that the disappearing middle class meant eroded security for the wealthiest and civil commotion.

Those poor little rich people. It would take a heart of stone to not weep into his half-empty cereal bowl after the moving admission that our financial troubles sometimes provided uneasy dinner conversation for the “haves.”

So what could those poor rich people do for their own self-interest?

Well, they could create a NGO to offered start-up capital to everyday Trinbagonians, so as to further stimulate entrepreneurial activity in poorer districts and help social mobility. Or maybe invest more in sport and culture; or partner with programmes which ensure a more dignified standard of living for the have-nots.

Photo: A protest at Fanny Government Primary School.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

But then pro-activism is not really a Trinbagonian trait. Old talk and reactive behaviour? Now you’re talking!

Little did they know that Bourdain was not their only dinner guest that night. The have-nots—crafty buggers as always—managed to defy copyright laws and get their hands on the controversial exchange.

And boy were Trinbagonians hopping mad—yes, even the ones who spent inordinate amounts of time watching Cribs and religiously follow Love and Hip Hop and Basketball Wives—at seeing locals enjoy their wealth. Somewhere, someone reacted with that word which billionaires worldwide have so far been unable to outlaw as hate speech: Boycott!

And now the Syrian/Lebanese community was all ears.

So how do you pacify people who are offended by the truth?

Well, Sabga-Aboud could have offered to share copies of the Syrian/Lebanese manual on influence—presumably named “How to influence political parties and alienate workers.”

Or maybe free classes on “How to speak like rich people”, which would be useful on job interviews or loan appointments.

Perhaps, more reasonably, there is a conversation to be had involving Trinidad and Tobago’s various ethnic communities on how we can work together and emerge stronger from this financial crisis and bloodletting: Black, Indian, Syrian/Lebanese, Chinese, Carib… and everything in-between.

Photo: Tribe revellers let loose on Carnival Monday in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

How can food glue us together if we don’t eat at the same table?

The rising tide of ultra all-inclusive parties means we don’t fete together anymore; the expansion of private schools—from kindergarten straight to tertiary level—suggests that fewer and fewer children from Goodwood Park will ever have the weird pleasure of sitting alongside a student from Valencia, Tunapuna or Penal in secondary school.

Ironically, Sabga-Aboud proved his Trinbagonian credentials by opting for the quick-fix: a short apology—he described it as “sincere”, which is a sure indicator that it wasn’t—that he did not even read himself or take questions on.

Luckily, Mr Live Wire was able to witness the crafting of Aboud-Sabga’s apology, satirically-speaking:

(The Making of the Mario Sagba-Aboud apology)

June 28th, 2017

(Honey? Honey! I wrote tomorrow’s date. Now they will think we have a time machine too! Hahaha. What? Steups. Why I must take it out? I didn’t want to write this damn letter in the first place! What am I apologising for?! Why they don’t ask Darryl Smith or Sinanan or Shamfa for an apology?! Steups. Alright, alright. Well, let me just write the damn thing, then…)

Dear Have-Nots,

Members of the Working Class,

Fellow Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago,

Photo: Wait… What?!

(Honey, you think that opening sounds pompous? Why? But I always wanted to make a King’s Speech… What do you mean if I think I am John Rahael?! Steups. I’m keeping it!)

On the recently broadcast CNN show ‘Parts Unknown’ I used honest careless words in referring to the standing of citizens of Middle Eastern descent in our society and ended up making you feel bad misrepresenting myself and my values.

I have never taken for granted the blessing to be a born and bred (Honey, what’s the word I am looking for? Nah, that will get Tobagonians upset with me. I know David Rudder had it in that nice song but he is so ‘yesterday’. Everybody only listens to Sunny Bling now. Sunny Bling doesn’t sing? Look just tell me the other… Oh ho. Right, thanks…) Trinbagonian.

I am, and have always been humbled by the opportunities and support I have received in my over 30 years in business in T&T.

Over these many years, I have met with many people across the wider society who in one way or another have positively impacted and enriched my company life. This is testament to the amazing people of this country and as a Trinbagonian 🙂, I cherish that and I offer my deepest apologies to anyone whom choked on their haterade I offended.

Photo: Rituals owner Mario Sabga-Aboud.
(Copyright Aldwyn Sin-Pang/Rituals)

I always treat with minimum wage appreciation, love and respect the members of my staff, many of whom work for are like my family because they have been with me for over 25 and 30 years, and are fundamentally the reason for my accomplishments. (Honey, I can keep that last bit right? Why not? But we are like the Starbucks of the Caribbean?! Steups. I’m keeping it!)

This was a regrettable moment because I knew Parts Unknown doesn’t show on basic cable and didn’t realise everyone would see it where my excitement led me to misrepresent myself as boastful instead of proud. (Honey, if you see what I just wrote at the end of that sentence to screw with their sensitive little souls! Hahaha. What you mean? But, it’s a riddle… I bet you they don’t pick that up. Just watch!)

Though I cannot retract my words, I hope that you all recognise my frustration remorse and get back to work… How much damn holidays does June have anyway! accept my sincere apology.

Yours truly,

Mario Sabga-Aboud

Chairman

Rituals Coffee House, Pizza Boys, Church’s Chicken, Wok n Roll, Vie De France, Donut Boys, the VIP Flyers Club… (What?! Why not to list them? You think they’re so serious about that boycott in truth? Steups…)

Global Brands Group of Companies

PS: Allyuh buy coffee from me nah?! (What?! I heard a nuts man say that at a football match once. It would play really well with the working class people… Steups. Okay honey. 🙁 )

About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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218 comments

  1. I was really concerned about suddenly being a “Trini-day-dian”. Could a sworn I was aTrinidadian …

  2. The criminals hear your statement too…..I jus sipping on my coffee and staying tuned for random kidnappings

  3. Can we move on from this topic?? Seriously don’t you think Trinidad has much bigger issues than this. For the love of all that’s good! Why don’t you write articles about the prime minister and his lack of apology to the very people who put him there?
    When he says “eat cassava and tighten your belts” while every Minister is driving a million dollar car. Or the minister of finance who said the people haven’t rioted yet..:
    But you’ll take that though… SMFH

  4. You know parents ,teach your children to be a family ,spend less time on social media talking to strangers who do not care . teach your children to learn to cook , healthy foods ,teach them to set the table , share with each other daily happenings , be creative make your sandwich ,and Pelau , bake your cake ,coffee in ice hot , bring back old memories , go to the botanical garden ,play board games ,parents interact with your kids teach them basic respect and manners , set aside every day time for leisure reading and family prayer time ,teach them to love , show respect , tenderness ,empathy , encourage conversation listen to them , really hear what they are saying , you are the parent , it’s ok if you ground them and punish them , they may be angry with you , but in a strange way they feel loved . Do all the above INSTEAD of going out to eat unhealthy food from the above establishments , let eating out be for very special occasions as a treat .

  5. Please let the man speak…..the truth!

  6. It is not a foreign thing for Trinbagos to be victimized by companies and cultures, that is why

  7. He definitely spoke the truth. Their influence on our country goes beyond belief. Lets be real

  8. Thinking that ppl actually do things for the ‘good of the country’ now that itself is a myth…Most trinis do what’s right or good only when they are being watched.

  9. What is the fuss about the man talked the truth get real people

  10. Myron, too much of what we all think we know about each other as ethnic groups is myth. Really all sides need to put their prejudices aside for the good of the country.

  11. What killing me about all of this …..
    Is the apparent “unawareness “, of trinbago, toward the Syrian elements. ..being in their natural element, speaking what we have known since the patriarch ( who had recently passed on,) existed and was the “king of trinbago “……. And presenting ourselves, as shocked and appalled, at such a horrendous outburst. ……

    We in trinbago, have always suffered from acute nine day memory lapses, since the rats eating the cocaine in MORVANT police station, the Dana seetahal murders ,et al, the missile in Sadiq Baksh ‘s water tank, the monos island beheading , the fact that a sitting prime minister and attorney general , can blatantly try to force new property tax initiatives upon the public, the rude and super disrespectful comments by the finance tiefing minister, colm imbert, the unc and all the CRAP of their five year term , not to mention all the CRAP of the many corrupt pnm terms , election , after election……
    And lastly, but not leastly, the $100 million in coke juice, from Trinidad citrus growers limited. ……..

    Sigh, I guess we’ll see how long this will last……Wait , it’s and ready forgotten by soo many ppl already, as I’ve seen rituals after rituals buyers enjoying making money for Mario sabga aboud…….

    Anyway , , don’t mind me….. I’m just a ….#ChupideeOnChupidness

  12. If you agree with everything said here your a total dumbass. So you don’t think the companies these people own, or even have a share in doesn’t give back. These companies sponsor so many sporting groups, so many charities. They give back to the Trinidad community so much and all you see is negativity? That’s the Trinidad mentality!!! If you don’t have it your jealous, and if you have it your keeping it. Such hypocrisy is being said here. Stop the hating and jealousy and do what is right, work hard for what you want and maybe one day if your not caught stealing or committing fraud you will one day move up in that company and maybe run it one day. Don’t be vex your not rich at 30 years old!!! Warren buffet made his first million dollars at the age of 40!

  13. Yeah…it’s like all those ppl who don’t mention how much money they are begging their baby daddies for… Not polite dinner conversation I guess.

  14. The truth came out. They are running the country. For many years.

  15. Incestuous clan of greedy people…….that man said what he and his believe …..boycott

  16. Interview sounded like he had was trying impress the man.

    Have no beef with persons being proud of their heritage and where they have come from.

    But it kinda sucks being an employee after you find out what your so called “boss” thinks about about where he is on the food chain.

    • Good letter from Gary Aboud. I might have tagged the wrong Aboud there. Lol. My apologies if I did. But I think he is right about the need for a national conversation.
      So much racial tension is just simmering beneath the surface here.

    • As I said elsewhere, for a country made up of the descendants of immigrants both forced and voluntary, we can be xenophobic, ignorant and hateful…. *sigh*

    • Alana Morton You forgetting that colourism, racism and classism omnipresent. And that have nothing to do with ya status as an (or decended from) immigrant

    • I didn’t forget but I am tired of all the unnecessary ignorance, xenophobia and hatefulness we on. When we continue to refer to each other as they and them and treat people born right here as alien and tell them they don’t belong, then we have very far to go. This goes for the fair elites, the bourgeoisie, the wannabes and everything in between.

    • I’m embarrassed that Gary had to do this, none of us should be made to feel it necessary to reaffirm our shared Trinidadianess in order to be accepted, it simply isn’t fair!

    • Gary’s letter was a good read. But one of the points I think he is missing is that the comment about the middle class being a “buffer” between the haves and have-nots was extremely crass. Many people are of the view that by the exploitation of workers those same “haves” have a direct hand in the eroding of the same buffer that is needed for their own comfort and security. I guess it could be argued that is poor people they exploiting and not middle class?

  17. All who PNM or UNC loyal got hurt by this statement, something in their mind rang off telling them that regardless they all are “have nots”.
    It is a good day in Trinidad when on of the “haves” made one statement to shut these PNM/UNC people who usually talk garbage up.

  18. How come nobody vex with Mark Bassant?

  19. Water under the bridge. You cannot take back the spoken word. It’s up to Trinbagonians to put it in perspective and act accordingly.

  20. I am going to continue to try my utmost best to discontinue patronizing those business… i click the say that much though…..is not what he said…it’s the manner in which

  21. we always know they run things

  22. The question is what can we learn from him and the 1 percent he said who rule is the bigger picture.

  23. epic editorial.

  24. I will like to thank Anthony Bourdain for allowing the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to meet the our true government for the first time. It was nice to see the real PM and well as a few of the real ministers. Humus anyone?????? Its trinidayedian flavoured.

  25. Look at the photo, do you see any local cuisine on the 5able. Lmfao

  26. As I said in a post before…Why not use that opportunity to thank T&T for being so accepting? There are many places in the world today look at that same 1% with scorn!

  27. “So how do you pacify people who are offended by the truth?” AH LOVE IT!!!

  28. The guy gave his opinion. It was some loosely strung together words that he possibly didn’t think through. It was a personal statement that truly has no bearing on anything. It came from one person and who knows if even the people at the same table agreed with him. Powerful can be defined in many ways. It would actually be cool if a journalist sat with him to try and understand what he meant by the statement and if appropriate, challenge him in a proper follow-up dialogue rather than just get all over-sensitive and evoke a useless “apology”. Apology for what? So what if he actually thinks his community is the most “powerful” (however he defines it) in TT society? If he’s wrong he’s wrong. It’s just words.

    And to those in this thread calling the lady country bookie, how is that any better behavior? y’all real sad.

    • I didn’t take issue with his belief that his is the most powerful group.
      The disdain for the rest of us is what bothers me.
      If the most powerful in society, with the capability of influencing every sphere of society, see us as nothing more than a buffer, will real opportunity for the rest of us to ever be more than a protective blanket ever really come?
      It is ironic though that there are those up in arms about the scorn of his statement while they heap scorn on others in even lower social standing than they are. The comments about those affected by Bret’s associated floods would be a good example.

    • Chabeth I totally get it. Lots said that could rub people the wrong way depending on how you interpret it, but I think folks should take it for what it’s worth. The guy didn’t purport anything as fact, declare anything, or issue any kind of authoritative statement. An apology to the nation for this just seems kind of silly. If anything, clarification and further discussion is probably more valuable – that’s how you build understanding and move forward…If that’s not practical, just leave it there. Same goes for the middle class buffer comment – clarification needed.

      About the 360 degree scorn – yeah – sad.

    • But wait, there’s more! Regarding the disdain…a part of me is outraged. But another part of me wonders id we don’t deserve this disdain. We’re a former British colony. Britain used class stratification (and rum) to control the natives. We inherited the class structures from the British. We continue to maintain these divisions by “class”…whatever that is. It stands to reason therefore, that if we, as so called educated and intelligent people continue to seek avenues to keep us divided, instead of seeking the things that unite id (which outnumber the divisions), then strictly speaking, we deserve the disdain. The Syrian community works as a unit. They support each other. As do the Chinese. Do we do the same thing in our community? Or do we seek to tear each other down based on race, religion, or who play with whichever mas band?

    • Describing a particular behaviour as country bookish is sad Duane Campbell? Or only when it involves Sabga-Abouds?
      So you can watch a clip of let’s say police on the street and say their behaviour is unmannerly and that’s understandable… But saying that it is country bookish for a dude to use a foreign company as a gauge to compare his own success–when that same foreign company is now his rival–made you whip out your violin?
      :-/

    • Duane, I agree with you on the apology. I see no need for it and I don’t think it has done any good.
      As for middle class buffer… I think it’s self explanatory. I first heard the terms years ago when someone was talking to me about Venezuela. And look at Venezuela now. Hence his (I suppose) logical concern about “civil commotion.”

    • Lasana – come on. Country bookie is a derogatory term. Unmannerly is a literal criticism. The two adjectives are not comparable. And take a look back at the context in which the term is being ascribed to the Syrian lady in this thread. It seems like a petty response to the overall ire surrounding the situation being described in here. It’s stooping and it’s sad. Ethnicity of the recipient notwithstanding…

    • Duane Campbell, we would call out own loving family members country bookie if we think they are acting like one. Is that seriously a derogatory term where you are from?
      A friend of yours never called you an imps in your life?

    • And I’m not calling you an imps eh Duane. Lol. Just to be clear. I’m saying that those terms aren’t hate speech in Trinidad. Far from it. Just expressions.
      Sure it wasn’t an positive expression. But it sure ent a nasty one either.

    • I’m not saying it’s hate speech by any stretch, but in this context it’s appears retaliatory…. i.e You think you’re better than me so I’m gonna call you country bookie for some petty reason… that if you look back… doesn’t really make sense. It’s stooping..and for me, that’s where any kind of meaningful convo breaks down into just trading jabs and insults. Which is why I call it sad. If my bredren call me country bookie under kix for whatever reason, that’s a different story.

    • Well, fair enough Duane. Some people are more angry than others over this too. Personally, I see Mario as the boastful uncle that every family has. He ramajayed a little too much for his own good. It rubbed some people the wrong way.
      But he was not being dishonest and, importantly, I don’t think he was trying to be malicious either. I don’t think anyone around that table said anything malicious in the show.
      They were just sharing what their Trinidad looks like.

    • The only bit that I can remember someone referring to the lady as country bookie was when she asked Bourdain if he ever had a particular dish before.
      That would be like asking a maths whiz if he every heard of algebra. It was funny. Maybe country bookie wasn’t the right word for that.
      But I don’t see that comment as spiteful at all. We all have those kind of senior citizen moments. Or she might have just been trying to make small talk and got nervous.
      People already overly sensitive about this topic as it is. Don’t start asking people to apologise for saying country bookie now. Lol.
      (Although from what I understand, people have definitely said stuff that they ought to apologise for about the Syrian community. If you ever see anything nasty in this group Duane Campbell… Please alert me. I don’t see all comments).

    • lol nah I not appealing for any apology – I personally was not offended per se… and yeah I get it’s not that serious – Just seemed petty and a bit out of character. My overall point in my initial post was that in situations like this it’d be cool to see Mario S. be challenged on his statement – by a morning talk show host or journalist etc – invite him to clarify his statement and challenge him if you think he stepped out of his lane. Take the opportunity to really get into to substance with him… might be very insightful and could have the potential to really advance the conversation. As it is, it seems like mostly noise until the next piece of compelling entertainment hits.

    • Yep. All superficial. That’s how we roll in T&T.

    • Considering the scale of the noise, it might have been hard for him to explain himself anyway. And risky to even try.

  29. What Sabga said was the truth. The Serians has the economic and political power of this country, everyone knows that. What’s new?

  30. If the consumers ( mainly afro Trinidadians) class in Trinidad and Tobago would respect their hard earned doller more we would be in a better position to deal with the racist and the bigots more effectively , we dont own buisnesses but we are the consumers that supports and make millionaires of the Syrians, the east indians , the Asians by spending our monies in their various establishments , we must begin to choose were , when , and who gets our patronage.

  31. Good article – like the sarcasm. Now if Machel goes on international tv and declares himself the best soca artist ever, we’ll have an uproar about that. This is all so petty – unbelievable

  32. The Syrian/ Lebanese community wealth represents new money in T&T. 1898 to present is just 130 years. Local history is not taught so most of us don’t have an understanding of why they were embraced by old money at the expense of others on this plantation, pre independence. Their wealth were not accumulated overnight. T& T is a young Republic. Their statements should make us reflect and appreciate the work of Butler and the labour movement, Dr Eric Williams for nationalizing Enterprises and the Chief Servant in 1970 for attempting to increase the plebs share of the pie. Without them our share of the pie today would have been a lot smaller as we were oppressed by Old money and not new money. The owners of the plantation pre independence(old money)has shaped and will continue to shape our future. New money is still a small fish in this global village.

    • don’t play yourself.
      130 years is “new” money in a country that not even half that age?
      Those particular Syrians came to T&T with a longgggg history of business and trade, going back generations.
      By your definition “old” money is some Spanish conquistador from the old San Jose barracks? or some Taino gold horder?

  33. I guess no one remembers the plot to clear the hills of Laventille and how that is impacting us…the long game

  34. Dwayne McClean-Parris Yea, the type ‘free of farts’ even though there’s a extra price fuh dat! LOL

  35. Heyyyy….bud. Y’wanna buy…some air?

  36. Dwayne McClean-Parris We might as well stop breathing in T&T because we may find out that these people own all the oxygen! LOL

  37. I do agree Sue, excellent read.

  38. If u’ll keep this up he will have to close his businesses and revert to what made him rich $$$$$ .

  39. Travis Mulraine , the man said what it is. What about those people who are hiding behind the cloak of being the Robin Hood of their community and in their hearts they see the peasants as slaves.

  40. LoL. So I ask if these words didn’t come out we jokey Trinis would not have ‘ realized ‘ what he said is the reality of sweet sweet T&T? well at least there is some outrage that’s a good start. But I’m sure next week we would be back in their restaurants,fabric stores,car dealerships etc etc making them richer because we are a jokey people.
    We jamming still

  41. apology for what – confirming what every Trini knows…they should also admit what else they contribute to at the expense to our youth