He singled out the Big Bay Club, a shrimp salad and crab cake sandwich, for criticism, calling it unwieldy and the shrimp refrigerated and possibly "tainted."

Revamped restaurant

Ramsay gave the restaurant a makeover and retooled the menu with Whiting's blessing.

Whiting used the show as an opportunity to apologize for trademarking 'Hon.'


"Like" explorebaltimorecounty's Facebook page

Whiting said she has since "tweaked" the Café Hon menu, bringing back some items Ramsay had cut.

"People wanted the Big Bay Club," she said. "Now, we bring it back as a special. And of course we have to have the dill vinaigrette dressing."

Replacing the sandwich on the regular menu is a crab and shrimp salad.

Last week, Ramsay revisited Café Hon, calling the restaurant more energetic and the food "delicious," according to Whiting.

Whiting said Ramsay gave her two gifts. One, which she showed, was a tiny pink flamingo on a pedestal, on which he wrote, "Love, Gordon."

The other was a lead on a local chef to succeed Jones, who has quit as Café Hon's head chef since the show aired. Whiting said she would interview the candidate this week. In the meantime, the sous chef and the kitchen manager "have stepped up," Whiting said.

There's been no lack of applicants for the head chef position, although one promising candidate showed up drunk for his second interview, she said.

'It's gone now'

Whiting has nothing but praise for Ramsay, saying he was instrumental in helping her make peace with her staff and quiet her trademark critics.

"He helped us get out from under that," she said. "It's lifted. It's gone now."

Honfest 2012 material for potential festival vendors still includes a reference to the old trademark, due to an employee error, Whiting said.

And she was still in late-hour negotiations last week with Baltimore City over the style of stages the city will supply for HonFest.

But she said, "It wouldn't be HonFest if we didn't have some little blip."

Whiting has become active with the Hampden Community Council again, and has worked with council treasurer Genny Dill to organize Hampden HiFi, an eight-week concert series in Roosevelt Park. HiFi kicks off June 8, the night before HonFest starts.

Whiting said she feeds lunch Tuesdays at Cafe Hon to students from the Hampden-based Academy for College and Career Exploration, in exchange for ACCE students picking up trash in the park each week.

Dill said Whiting has always given back to the area, donating money to the Roosevelt Recreation Center for its Halloween Haunted House and serving mac and cheese with two employees during last fall's HampdenFest, among other good deeds.