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The Family Meal – Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

Let’s get to it…

The sad news – Per his own paper: “Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times restaurant critic who richly chronicled the city’s vast culinary landscape and made its food understandable and approachable to legions of fans, has died. He was 57. Gold died of pancreatic cancer at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles [Saturday] evening, according to his wife, Times arts and entertainment editor Laurie Ochoa. He was diagnosed with the disease in early July.”

The NYT and many, many others also tried to sum up the facts and meaning of his life and work, but my favorite tribute by far is Eater’s rundown of his fellow food writers’ favorite J. Gold clips, with links to some of his best essays and reviews, including several non-food columns. Selections from Francis LamGustavo ArellanoJeff GordinierJulia KramerJohn BirdsallPete WellsHelen RosnerGabriella GershensonBrett MartinKat KinsmanPaolo LucchesiBrett AndersonCharlotte DruckmanTom SietsemaBill Addison, and more.

The LA Times also has some farewell quotes from chefs (LefebvreSingsanongCentenoGoinKoslowYenbamroongAvilaHatfieldChoiYoonFenigerArrington, BotturaRedzepi, and Silverton) and on a fun, practical level, there’s this pairing of his essays with recipes. On hosting a Hanukkah party (latke recipe included): “And I will stagger into the dining room, knuckles bloodied, and hand you another platter of latkes. You will eat them until you plotz. This is the bargain we have made.”

Wish I’d had the chance to make that bargain.

And while it’s definitely too soon for the guessing game as to who might take over (will update my list of potential Bauer replacements for Friday), Farley Elliot did take stock of LA’s changing food media landscape for Eater: “It’s hard to think the Times would not inevitably fill the giant Gold void, yet both [Besha Rodell’s (LA Weekly) and Patric Kuh’s (LA Magazine)] roles have sat empty at their respective publications since leaving…”

More sad news – Madeleine Kamman, “renowned French chef and teacher” who “gave Americans a taste of France” died last week at 87. Full obituary in the NYT, and a tribute from Michael Bauer here.

The Job Description – Speaking of Mr. Bauer… “The Restaurant Critic is the most prominent media voice in one of the top dining destinations in the world. The Critic is a cultural thought leader, sparking and shaping how readers, chefs and makers understand the state of Bay Area dining.” Could that be you? Head on over to the SF Chronicle recruitment page and click Apply for Job. I did. (But only to try to see what the “Job Related Questions” section might hold. Unfortunately halfway through it disappeared and was replaced by “File Attachments”, so start prepping those pdf’s!)

P.S. – Eater DC is also seeking a new full-time Editor.

(Bar) Awards Season – The 12th annual Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards were presented in New Orleans on Saturday. A full list of winners is here. Some highlights are here: Best American Cocktail Bar: Lost Lake(Chicago); Best American Bar Team: Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co.(Miami); American Bartender of the Year: Yael VengroffThe Spare Room(LA); Best New American Cocktail Bar: Navy Strength (Seattle); Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book: Meehan’s Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan(sometimes Hong Kong); Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits: By the Smoke and the Smell by Thad Vogler (SF). And don’t let PR forget to congratulate this year’s Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer: M. Carrie Allan. Congrats, all!

In other NOLA / cocktail news… Neat Pour reports: “Chris Hannah To Depart French 75, Resurrect Jewel Of The South With Nick Detrich… The high profile bartenders just announced plans to team up with business partner John Stubbs to open Jewel of the South, a fine dining destination in NOLA’s French Quarter (1026 St. Louis St.) together this fall.”

Crowdfunding a Landmark – “Three Brooklyn restaurateurs have teamed up to rescue [a] 19th-century space on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn; Gage & Tollner closed in 2004 after 112 years there, but the building’s interior, designated a landmark, still has its original lamps and wall-length mirrors. Their aim is to return it to its former glory as a grand chop-and-oyster house. The three will kick off their effort in a very 21st-century way, through a $600,000 capital campaign on Wefunder…. ‘We realized we didn’t know 12 people who could give us $100,000 a piece,’ said St. John Frizell, an owner of the Red Hook bar Fort Defiance. His partners are Sohui Kim and Ben Schneider, owners of the Good Fork, in Red Hook, and Insa, in the Gowanus area. ‘But we did know 600 who could give us $1,000 a piece.’” Details – and a bonus photo of nonpolitical gaslighting – in the NYT.

P.S. – Click on the “numbers” tab on the Wefunder page to see their ten year pro forma projections and repayment schedule. $4.5M revenue year one on service alone. $6.8M year ten with events, etc.

Fast Casual Dispatch – St. Louis empire-builder Gerard Craft (Sardella et al.) will close his fast casual Porano Pasta at the end of the month. He blamed it partly on “all of the amazing convention business [the city] lost this year.” Hopefully the bad business travel stats don’t impact his upcoming Cinder House in the Four Seasons STL.

The Suits – Chicago’s Four Corners restaurant group has been hit with a teeny-tiny wage theft class action: “We estimate there is more than $30 million dollars in unpaid tips that are owed to the bartenders and waitresses,” the plaintiffs’ council tells NBC5. Quoth the defendant: “Without merit”.

The Monologue Treatment – This fantastic Belinda Leong interview of Cecilia Chiang is one long, matter-of-fact reminder of both the unique contributions and unique patriotism of so many immigrants: “We had four restaurants one time. Two Mandarins, one here, one in Beverly Hills. And also we had two little Mandarette. Actually, Mandarette is kind of P.F. Chang’s. That’s how [my son] started that…. I’m 98. When I started… I was 30. In a foreign land. Didn’t know the background or the history of the USA. And that’s not very easy. But also I’m very grateful to the United States, because it’s hard. This would never happen in China or Japan for a foreigner. This [is] something I’m very thankful for…. That’s why now when I meet young people from China or somewhere else who want to start a business, if they need my help, I always help. I’ve sponsored 26 people: my niece and nephew, an MIT professor, also bankers, architects, doctors, and they’re all doing really well.”

For design fans – Oakland’s Farmhouse Kitchen bucks the succulents-and-green-danglers trend with walls covered in pink, white, and red roses. Yes, it’s being done elsewhere (and no it’s not my favorite), but after endless photo spreads of brass and wood shelves holding up potted cactus varieties, I almost forgot flowers existed.

And last but not least: The Playlist – “Ryuichi Sakamoto, the renowned musician and composer who lives in the West Village,” was a fan of everything about Kajitsu in Murray Hill except one thing, so one night, “He went home and composed an email to [then chef Hiroki Odo]. ‘I love your food, I respect you and I love this restaurant, but I hate the music,’ he remembered writing. ‘Who chose this? Whose decision of mixing this terrible roundup? Let me do it. Because your food is as good as the beauty of Katsura Rikyu.’ (He meant the thousand-year-old palatial villa in Kyoto, built to some degree on the aesthetic principles of imperfections and natural circumstances known as wabi-sabi.) ‘But the music in your restaurant is like Trump Tower.’” The playlist he came up with – all 47 songs – is included via Spotify about halfway through the full story in the NYT.

I listened while I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray.

And that’s it for today. Life is short and fragile. I’m off to write some fan letters.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or latkes to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

P.S. – With the tough news and extra reading this week, I could not get my act together to switch email servers as mentioned on Friday. It’ll happen this week. So help me MailChimp.

The Family Meal – Friday, July 20th, 2018

Hello Friday,

Quick programming note to start: If all goes well, Family Meal will switch servers on Tuesday and begin coming to you from Substack as opposed to Mailchimp. Reasons for the move: Substack is free for me, and it lets people who want to contribute contribute. Don’t worry, there’s no pay wall on the horizon, and you shouldn’t notice any major changes.

Let’s get to it…

Replacing Michael Bauer – Over the past few days, I’ve asked a national cross-section of food writers and editors for their thoughts on who might or might-should get one of the most influential food writing gigs in the country when the restaurant critic role at the San Francisco Chronicle opens up in September. My longish notes on those conversations are at the very bottom of the newsletter, so as not to overwhelm less interested readers. Scroll down past the sign off if you’re in a rush.

And below those, you’ll find a quick Q&A with writer Julia Turshen, who was kind enough to provide an update on her Equity At The Table (EATT) online directory / community for “women/gender non-conforming individuals… focusing primarily on POC and the LGBTQ community.” It’s the site Daniel Patterson highlighted in tweets about his hopes for the next Chronicle critic. Some media folks privately criticized those tweets as: A) laughable because a chef was trying to lead the conversation about who should be his critic, and B) more of Patterson’s “non-stop virtue signaling” (“his heart is in the right place”), BUT no one disagreed that EATT would be an excellent resource for the Chronicle’s selection committee. So look out below for an update on that, and users / true believers should definitely hit up their Patreon page.

The (other) critics – “In perhaps the most anticlimactic Chicago moment since Geraldo Rivera pried open Al Capone’s vault,” the Tribune’s longtime critic Phil Vettel has revealed his face and is ditching the anonymity he worries has “created an uneven playing field, giving an advantage to restaurants clever enough to recognize me and smart enough not to let it show… And, to my readers, it’s more honest. I’ve always made a point of disclosing in my reviews when service took a suspicious VIP turn, but I suspect I’m being recognized more often than I realize.” (Yes, critics at major outlets, I suspect anything less than #prettymucheverysingletime is probably an underestimation.)

Some sad news – In Manhattan, EV Grieve reports, “Jim Moffett, the owner of the 35-year-old Great Jones Cafe on Great Jones Street, died last week… A friend said that Moffett was 59.”

Awards Season – Congratulations to Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken: “The pair will be the first set of partners and the first women to receive the Julia Child Award, which was previously awarded to chefs Jacques Pepinand Rick Bayless, and restaurateur Danny Meyer. The award will be presented to Milliken and Feniger on Nov. 1, at a gala for Smithsonian Food History Weekend at the National Museum of American History.” Details, anecdotes, and a bit of the profile treatment via Maura Judkis in the Washington Post. Appropriation watchers will be interested to see Bayless, Feniger, and Milliken on such a short list…

(Alleged) A-hole Whack-a-Mole – Also from Judkis: “Someone Else’s Problem” is a painful accounting of six women seeking justice from D.C.’s Mindful Restaurant Group (Aqua al 2GhibellinaLa Puerta Verdeetc.). Spoiler: They didn’t get it. Un-spoiler: You have to read through to her kicker to understand the full extent of the run around. And you should.

Arrested at TOTC – “A well-known Chicago mixologist was arrested in New Orleans early Wednesday (July 18) on a third-degree rape charge in connection to a 2015 accusation, according to court documents. The man who reported the rape told police he was visiting New Orleans from New York for the 2015 Tales of the Cocktail and went to a party hosted by Adam Seger, 48, according to Seger’s warrant. After having ‘numerous’ alcoholic drinks, the man said he fell asleep in a poolside chair. When the man woke up, Seger was performing unwanted oral sex on him, the warrant states.” Details on

UnChef’d – The meal kit company that partnered with celebrities and celebrity chefs (Dominique CrennDuff GoldmanMatty MathesonSimon MajumdarSusan Feniger, Wolfgang Puck, among others) to let fans cook their recipes at home shut down this week. This, despite lots of supposedly good news recently: “Last month, Chef’d announced it would sell its meal kits in 30 Duane Reade and Walgreens locations in New York. In May, Chef’d announced it would be partnering with Byte Foods to stock meal kits in the company’s smart fridges. Last year, the company raised $35 million from Campbell’s and pork producer Smithfield Foods.” Big food companies that were eager and/or pressured to get in on Silicon Valley VC style bets are learning some tough lessons… Details in Business Insider.

The Gall – Thailand Edition: Quite the interview here from Jason Bailey of Paste Gaysorn in Bangkok. He criticizes new Nahm head chef Pim Techamuanvivit (of Kin Khao SF fame for some) for “being an import” (she was born and raised in Bangkok, he’s Australian) and “in essence a blogger” (she won a Michelin star in SF) and for forsaking pure art and scholarship to instead “get all the press contacts [and] network.” Techamuanvivit did not take it quietly.

The Fallout – In DC, “Two Mike Isabella restaurants have closed in recent months, and now it looks like a third could be in danger. The landlord of Graffiato, Isabella’s first eatery, is suing for more than $28,000 in alleged unpaid rent and other fees.” His reaction to the Washingtonian’s questions: “‘Don’t know what your talking about,’ Isabella said via e-mail about the eviction lawsuit, which was filed in DC court on June 29.” Which either means he’s still having problems with honesty, or his investors have another, larger problem.

Lists I like – Eater is out with their Young Guns 2018 list of up-and-coming talent. And this year’s 18 winners are: Amelie Kang (Co-Founder of MáLà Project and Tomorrow, NYC); Caitlin McMillan (Exec Chef of Goldie, Philadelphia); Chelsea Gregoire (Bar Manager at Hotel Revival, Baltimore); Christine Larroucau (GM at Majordomo, LA); Daniel Alvarez (Pastry Chef at Union Square Cafe and Daily Provisions, NYC); DeVonn Francis, Chef / Founder of Yardy, NYC); Gabe Barker (Chef / Owner of Pizzeria Mercato, Carrboro, NC); Kaitlyn Caruke (Head Somm at Walnut Street Café, Philadelphia); Kate Kavanaugh, (CEO of Western Daughters Butcher Shop, Denver); Laura Johnson  (Owner of You and Yours Distilling Co., San Diego); Lena Sareini (Pastry Chef at Selden Standard, Detroit); Nico de Leon(Sous Chef at Lasa, LA); Niels Brisbane (Culinary Director of Canlis Research Kitchen at the Bread Lab, Burlington, WA); Nite Yun (Chef / Owner of Nyum Bai, Oakland); Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod (CEOs of Rasa, DC); Shota Nakajima (Chef / Owner of Adana, Seattle); and Sumi Ali (Co-Founder of Yes Plz, LA).

The whole package is definitely worth looking around, not least because Eater managed to get a murderers’ row of writers to do the profiles.

Tell PR – If your restaurant’s near a rail line, Amtrak’s magazine has a new senior editor looking for food and hospitality pitches. Lauren Vespoli: “Pitch me!”

For the somm – Per the Chronicle, “Kosta Browne, the acclaimed Sebastopol maker of Pinot Noir, has been purchased by Duckhorn Wine Co. of St. Helena.”

And some sad news with a full obit in the NYT, “Auguste Clape, a pillar of the northern Rhône Valley wine region whose sturdy yet remarkably soulful wines awakened interest in the little-known Cornas appellation, died on July 13 in Valence, France. He was 93.”

And last but certainly not least – As anti-straw mania engulfs the industry, there are occasional mentions of what banning them means for disabled people. Honestly, I never quite got it until I read this piece from Alice Wong: “I refuse to apologize or feel shame about the way my body works and how I navigate in the world. Everyone consumes goods and creates waste. We all do what we can to reduce, reuse, and recycle. We should recognize that different needs require different solutions.” Bonus: It ends with perfectly reasonable and manageable solutions.

And that’s it for today. Stay tuned below for the Bauer replacement rumors and a quick update on EATT. I’m off to launch my kickstarter for a new documentary short titled “Replacing Michael Bauer”. At the $10k level, you can join me for a private screening in The French Laundry kitchen garden, followed by a trip to the Napa County lockup.

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or Phil Vettel look-a-likes to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

Replacing Michael Bauer

Before we start, two things: 1) I want to be clear that I am 99% passing on thoughts here. It should be clear where my own views come in, so please save your cheering, heckling, and/or eye-rolls for your fellow readers. 2) I don’t want to be in the business of publicly judging writers too harshly, so I may be holding back some places. So be it.

And now, at the risk of pissing everyone off….

The name that came up most frequently was Tejal Rao (“TAY-jull with a hard j, as in jam. And rau, like the acrimonious quarrel”, FYI, SF PR). Folks noted she has basically everything the Chronicle could want (at least from an out-of-towner): A long resume of criticism at the Village Voice and Bloomberg News (with two James Beard awards for her trouble), and a solid mix of frivolous lists, deeply reported stories, profiles, and recipe writing at the New York Times.

Her website is an easy place to poke around her work, and includes a link to this interview in Tiffin if you want to get to know her better. “Born in London to Indian émigré parents, she grew up, variously, in London, Khartoum, Kuwait, Paris, and Atlanta, in between extended summer sojourns with grandparents in Nairobi and Pune.” There’s a lot to get to know…

BUT, several people noted that besides the personal pros and cons of a cross-country move, there’s the question of what’s going on at NYT Food. Pete Wellsis coming up on seven years as head critic in November, longer than any of his recent predecessors Sam Sifton (two years), Frank Bruni (five), William Grimes (four), and Ruth Reichl (six). If Rao is next in line, how long will she have to wait, and will she?

(So many people suggested her that I actually forgot to reach out to her for her thoughts. Guessing it’ll be a polite “no comment”, but will let you know.)

The second name that came up most was Soleil Ho of the Racist Sandwich podcast. Consensus is she has the restaurant chops and writing skill to write about all corners of the industry, but some wondered if the critic role would be too confining for someone who wants to write about broader issues.

Other current critics mentioned were:

Tim Carman at the Washington Post – someone said he might add a bit of a Jonathan Gold lens to the Bay Area – but Carman’s another white man, and that doesn’t seem to be where the conversation is at right now. (Ditto Tom Sietsema, though no one I heard from expects him to give up his spot in DC anytime soon.)

Bill Addison at Eater (and previously a critic at the Chronicle) has the same demographic strike against as Carman, and word is he might be happy to end his life on the road in Wells’ job too…

Devra First – May be ready for a move from the Boston Globe?

Hillary Dixler Canavan – Eater’s national restaurant editor, who ironically(?) just moved from SF to LA.

Luke Tsai – Food editor at SF Magazine, and former critic at the East Bay Express with the local cred.

Rachel Khong – One of the top choices out of the Bay Area, but maybe she’s got the taste for novel writing now?

Stephen Satterfield – Another Bay Area favorite, but may want to keep his focus on Whetstone and other projects.

Hanna Raskin at the Charleston Post & Courier, who is a sharp enough critic that she tends to get banned from places.

Besha Rodell – Now covering Australia for the NYT. (Actually, I suggested Besha might be missing California, but someone told me they thought there was no way she’d make that move again.)

Then there’s the in-house moves, but for reasons purely of inertia it’s hard for me to imagine anyone leaving their current roles. Esther Mobley just expanded her portfolio with the new Press section, and Jonathan Kauffman seems to have a good gig moving his focus around wherever his interests take him. Not sure who else would make the move?

And more suggestions in no particular order:

Kate Krader – Current food editor at Bloomberg, after 20 years at Food & Wine.

Korsha Wilson – Lots of great writing in her name, and does A Hungry Society podcast. Recommended multiple times.

Khushbu Shah – Food features editor at Thrillist.

Pryia Krishna – Probably pretty busy with her cookbook, but when has that ever stopped anybody?

Osayi Endolyn – Great writing all over the place.

Tunde Wey – Could he make the switch from performance art / activism / broader writing to restaurant criticism?

Patty Unterman – Bauer’s predecessor at the Chronicle, who went on to spend 20 years at the Examiner and co-owns the Hayes Street Grill. A homecoming?

And that’s what I’ve got so far. It’s an incomplete list FOR SURE, and you’re right if you think it needs some editing. But I thought I’d put it out there and see what you think.

What do you think?

P.S. – If anyone wants to play the “What’s next at NYT Food” game with me, I’m in: Sifton moves to Cooking full time. Wells up to editor. Rao in as critic. I take over newsletters, on-location tropical features, and cheese. Everyone else holds firm. Done and done.

And now…

Some Q’s for Julia Turshen re: Equity At The Table. What’s happened so far, and what’s next?

Hi Julia! Equity At The Table (EATT) has been online for just over three months now. How has the project been going so far? Any interesting successes or unexpected outcomes you can share?

It’s going great— we have new members joining all of the time and I frequently hear from editors and other gatekeepers that they’re using EATT. The most delightful outcome so far has been a community email that I’ve been sending to members…it’s a place to share community news, job openings, and more.

A lot of the focus I see has been on EATT’s role as a directory, but you also describe EATT as a community. How is the community aspect playing out on and/or offline?

It’s playing out through our Instagram feed (run by Meme!) and through my regular emails to members. We’re currently exploring ways for it to play out offline. I have a lot of hopes for ways people can engage with the site and the members on it can engage with each other and my favorite measure of success is knowing that members have personally connected with other members and are getting to know each other. Community is everything.

Daniel Patterson recently shouted EATT out in his Twitter conversation with Chronicle EIC Audrey Cooper, citing it as a good place for them to hunt for a replacement for Michael Bauer. This feels like the kind of moment EATT was built for. 

I’m delighted to know it’s being put to use— that is definitely the point of EATT. It’s a tool. It’s a resource. It’s evidence that marginalized voices are not a monolith and we all have very distinct skills and stories to share. As Advisory Board member Shakirah Simley said the day we launched: “No excuses.

What’s next for EATT? (Please feel free to break news or spread gossip!) And what do you need from the public to help make it happen?

To continue being a valuable resource and to keep finding ways for us members to connect with each other. The more people who are eligible to join that join, the better. The more people in positions of power who bookmark EATT and keeping coming back to it, the better. The more people who might want to pledge a little bit financially to help us pay our part-time employee and to support offline opportunities, the better. Thank you for asking.

Thank you, Julia!

The Family Meal – Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

And a quick shout out to everyone reading Family Meal down in New Orleans! Big day for Tales of the Cocktail, as the TOTC Foundation allocates its first $250k worth of grants this afternoon at the Hotel Monteleone.

Let’s get to it…

Bauer bounces – On Friday, after 32 years at the paper, critic Michael Bauerannounced his last day with the SF Chronicle will be sometime in September. He’s “not calling it retirement.”

The Chronicle ran a glowing goodbye piece for him, with a long resume stretching back to his first gig as a features writer at the Kansas City Star in 1975 before moving on to restaurant criticism at the Dallas Times Herald and eventually San Francisco, where he started Inside Scoop, the wine section, and more. It’s definitely worth a read to see just how much influence he’s had and how many publications he’s inspired / launched, but as a huge fan of the Chronicle food section, I was really disappointed to see that it reads like a rosy family obit (so, opinion?) and fails to utter that simple, key phrase…

His tenure was not without controversy. The most damning public accusations came from Rebecca Flint Marx’s two year old piece in San Francisco Magazine, “The Trouble with the Michaels,” in which she breaks down the many conflicts of interest brought on both by Bauer’s boyfriend Michael Murphy’s job at IfOnly, and the couple’s closeness with so many of the people that at least one of them was supposed to be impartial about: “San Francisco is a village, one that’s full of chefs who have spent their entire career under a single critic and have been conditioned to please him and to not, with very few exceptions, ask any questions. It’s a place where you can go to a party at the home of that critic, look around at all of the chefs in attendance, and realize, as one past attendee of one Bauer-Murphy soiree did, that ‘if you dropped a bomb on the house right now, the food scene would be done.’” Cc: The Swamp.

There are a bunch more accusations large and small, fair and unfair, both in that article and elsewhere, and it would be impossible for me to go into all the details here. But I really hope the Chronicle food section gives it a go themselves. They say they want to look to the future of criticism in the Bay Area. Hard to do that without first having a frank discussion on the past, and I think they owe it to their loyal readers (me) and subjects of criticism (many of you) to examine (critique!) the Bauer era openly.

Meanwhile… Eater has a fun rundown of his greatest hits reviews here, and a collection of “mixed” reactions to his departure here.

And looking to the future… Food editor Paolo Lucchesi says they’re conducting a nationwide search to replace Bauer with “someone who has fresh ideas about what is next, and the restaurants that truly matter (and don’t matter) in 2018. We want someone who loves to examine the politics of caviar as much as the virtues of sourdough. Readers, we want to hear from you. Chefs, servers, cooks, bussers, restaurateurs: We want to hear from you, too. And future Bay Area restaurant critics: We definitely want to hear from you… Email: Twitter: @lucchesi.

He’s already heard from Daniel Patterson, who has some thoughts on who could step in to fill the role (and how), but I’ll save my own suggestions and guesses for now, and must respectfully ask that Mr. Lucchesi refrain from further solicitation. I can’t be your critic, Paolo. Too famous.

And now, the rest of the news…

The scratch – The NYPost reports that at Three World Trade Center, “Plans for a 7,000-square-foot casual dining spot from Will Guidara and chef Daniel Humm, of Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad fame, have been scratched.… Meanwhile, Hawksmoor — an acclaimed steakhouse with seven locations in Britain that was supposed to open a 14,000-square-foot jumbo at Three World Trade last year — is ‘now looking at a different location uptown,’ a source said, ‘near Park Avenue South.’”

The profile treatment – This Tim Carman profile of pitmaster Rodney Scottand his journey to prominence is fantastic. It touches on the value of hard work, good press, solid mentorship, selective business partnership, and a whole lot of optimism and ambition, and then hits on the deeply personal struggles that often come with defining and achieving success: “Rodney Scott’s successful migration from country to city has come at a cost. The locals in Hemingway, Scott says, sometimes give him an earful about leaving them behind. They accuse him of selling out and selling out his own family. But the situation seems much more complex. Those close to Scott…say that father and son no longer talk. It’s a classic case of son transcending father, one person says, and the jealousies that come with it.… Scott quotes T.D. Jakes, the pastor behind the Dallas megachurch, the Potter’s House, when asked about his father. ‘T.D. Jakes told a story that not everybody you encounter on your journey is meant to be with you when you get to your destination… Sometimes your journey is to go past that person. That person may be your brother, sister, mother, father, uncle, whomever. . . . My life is just like that.’” Full story well worth a read.

The interview treatment – If you need a fresh Bourdain fix, Popula published a 20,000 word interview with Maria Bustillos on Sunday.

The moves – The big news in DC this weekend was Frank Ruta and Aggie Chin leaving Hakan Ilhan’s Mirabelle, due to what management called “an inability to consistently meet food and labor costs.” The Washingtonian reports, “Keith Bombaugh, a protege of Boston’s Barbara Lynch who went on to become a sous chef at Chicago’s famed Alinea, is [now] leading the kitchen.” Zoe Ezrailson will take over pastry duties from Chin.

In SF, “Chef Josh Even, formerly the head chef of Tosca Cafe, has joined the team at Tofino Wines, the Laurel Heights wine bar and bottle shop.”

The media – A few non-Bauer, food-related media notes: The EIC of SF Magazine, Jon Steinberg is leaving for Epic, Eater NY is looking for a full-time reporter, and Eater National is hiring a Social Media Manager.

For design fans – “Here’s Hippo, James Beard Winner Matt Molina’s New Highland Park [LA] Secret” which looks a bit like a camp cafeteria, but in a good way? And then there’s ManhattaDanny Meyer’s new 60th floor spend at 28 Liberty Street, ManhattaN. It’s pretty safe stuff design-wise, but if you like classic looks against outrageous views, you’re welcome. And finally, back to LA for the new Chateau Hanare at the Chateau Marmont, where the chairs look like they’ve been covered to keep guests from ruining the real fabric, but I’m a sucker for a restaurant with a mix of wildly different dining room styles.

And last but not least – Warn your beverage director: Not sure this is going to go according to plan… Via the South Bend Tribune: “Will beer names bring the right kind of attention to new Lakeville brewery? With titles including ‘Flint Michigan Tap Water,’ ‘Black Beer Matters,’ ‘White Guilt’ and ‘Mass Graves,’ Jon Duncan and Rodney Chlebek acknowledge the names are likely to create a reaction from people. But, according to Duncan, at least people will be talking about current issues… The stout will be called ‘Black Beer Matters’ because, according to Duncan, stouts and porters are the least popular of all craft beers. But ‘they are good beers and they matter,’ he said.” #ally

And that’s it for today.

I’ll see you here Friday for next family meal.

P.S. For over 3 years in my youth, I spent nearly every working day walking in literal minefields (as in landmines), but I have never tread more carefully than this past week spent housesitting an ornery tomcat. I don’t know how you cat people do it, but his owners got back last night, and I’m off to bash around my apartment with the confidence of a man wearing steel-toed boots in a dandelion field. Hope you have a great day too.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or your bets on the next Chron critic to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

The Family Meal – Friday, July 13th, 2018

Hello Friday the 13th,

Wrapped up the RISE conference here in Hong Kong yesterday with an awkward 20 minute talk and follow-up Q&A from Marco Pierre White, who was attending a startup conference in Asia for… no idea. He responded to the only question about apps and startups by brandishing his OS-less Nokia and laughing that they “were asking the wrong person. I haven’t even sent an email in years.”

Asked for his reaction to #metoo and Mario Batali, White got defensive and said he hadn’t heard very much about it because he doesn’t “read newspapers or watch TV, madam.” Sure.

He also said “there’s the odd vegan and the odd gluten-free, but you couldn’t build a business out of them”.

I guess what I’m saying is: I’m starting a new investment fund based entirely on White’s extremely on-trend worldview. Venmo me.

Let’s get to it…

The fire sale – Per “The sale of most of Jose Garces’ restaurant empire was approved Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden for about $8 million in cash and assumed liabilities. As part of the sale, a new entity — 3BM1, a partnership between Louisiana-based Ballard Brands and local investor David Maser — will assume control of AmadaTintoVillage Whiskeythe Olde BarJG DomesticVolvér, and Garces Events.  It also will control management contracts that operate Olón and Okatshe in the Tropicana in Atlantic City, Amada and Distrito in Ocean Resort in Atlantic City, CHUBB Conference Center in Lafayette Hill, and Ortzi in New York City. Distrito in University City and Buena Onda, not affected by the bankruptcy, will remain open but will not be operated by 3BM1.” Garces will serve as 3BM1’s chief culinary officer. Details here.

The fire – “Longtime, popular Midtown Chinese restaurant Szechuan Gourmet went up in flames on Tuesday night, with the New York City Fire Department pointing to ‘careless cooking in [the] kitchen with extension into duct work’ and no smoke alarms as the cause of the fire that injured 15.” Patch says FDNY put up four alarms “which means more than 140 emergency personnel responded to the scene.”

The slow burn – Death throes at Mario Batali’s La Sirena? Exec chef Anthony Sasso and exec pastry chef Thea Habjanic are on their way out, per Eater, and kitchen size, staff numbers, and table count have all been shrinking lately. “Rumors continue to swirl at the restaurant and at the company that La Sirena would be the first of Batali’s New York restaurant to close post-scandal, sources say.”

That Restaurant OS $$$ – Headpun in Forbes: “Investors Slather A $1.4 Billion Valuation On Restaurant Software Maker Toast.” The POS / staff scheduler / BOH management startup raised $115M for their Series D, bringing total funding so far to $249M. CEO Chris Comparato says they’re “still in early innings of adoption” (Translation: We’re not overvalued. This market is huge and there’s still a ton of monthly fees out there).

That fast casual $$$ – “Former Minton’s and the Cecil chef JJ Johnson has officially signed a lease in Harlem for the fast-casual grain concept he previewed earlier this year at Chef’s Club Counter.” Details in Eater NY.

The expansion – Via the SF Chronicle: “Michelin-starred San Francisco chef Melissa Perello, the chef-owner of Frances and Octavia in San Francisco, is taking her talents to Southern California with a forthcoming, unnamed restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. It’s the chef’s first expansion outside of the Bay Area.”

The (Canadian) reveal – The “worst kept secret” in Toronto is out: After severing ties with her Montreal bar Agrikol, and announcing she’ll be shuttering The Black Hoof by summer’s end, outspoken restaurateur Jen Agghas taken over the old Swan and will be converting it into Le Swan with Hoof chef James StantonGrey Gardens bar manager Greig David, and GM / Somm Jake Skakun. “Firm September opening.”

The vacancy – Georgie, which Food Network personality and New York City chef Geoffrey Zakarian opened inside the ground floor of the ritzy MontageHotel in Beverly Hills, will close for service this Sunday, July 15.” Details in Eater LA.

For design fans – A handful of good photo spreads from Eater this week:

First up we have Alvin Cailan’s follow up to his Eggslut phenomenon: The Usual. It’s got a towering millennial pink and brass bar area (so: the usual), herringbone floors, and an interesting choice of basic, bright white chairs I haven’t seen a lot of lately, BUT the only thing the comments section is concerned with are the menu prices, where the cheapest beer is a $10 bottle of Lagunitas. Good luck!

Then there’s all the money that went into Free Rein at Chicago’s St. Jane hotel, where a set of agnes-esque(?) chandeliers handle lighting, and the booths are all a step above the main floor (an urge I get and look I like, but probably an unnecessary complication for guests and staff, hence the handrails?).

And last but not least, I’m a huge sucker for wicker chairs and palm fans in a (semi) tropical setting, and I’d love to know more about the decision making behind the concrete booths on the patio at Dama in Downtown LA, but what I really want to highlight here is the shoot timing. They got the patio in day and the bar at night. I see so many bars and restaurants that are clearly nightspots getting bad pictures taken in the noonday sun. Light your candles. Fire up the neon. Wait for dark.

For the somm – Critic moves at Wine Spectator: “Napa bureau chief Kim Marcus has been appointed lead taster for the state’s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, and senior editor James Molesworth will become lead taster for Cabernet Sauvignon.”

And last but not least – Graphic designer Bobby McKenna shared some ads and illustrations he made for David Chang’s Ando before it went bust. They’re pretty fun (and up for grabs?).

And that’s it for today. Good luck to everyone in D.C. under a boil water advisory this morning. Here’s hoping everything’s working fine in time for service!

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next family meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or optimistic seed funding to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

The Family Meal – Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

Coming to you live(ish) today from the RISE Conference in Hong Kong, where I’ve been talking to foodtech companies about innovation in Asia. Spoiler for restaurants: Startups here would like a cut of your orders from consumers, and a cut of your orders to suppliers. They promise these cuts are reasonable, and correspond to value added. Congrats.

Very much looking forward to Thursday’s panel with Marco Pierre White, entitled: “Be the boss, or be popular?” (Obvious third option: Be Springsteen.)

Let’s get to it…

Redemption Song – NOLA’s Alon Shaya occupies an odd corner of the #metoo moment. He wasn’t really directly accused of anything, but was tainted by his partnership with John Besh. At the same time, he tried to claim space as a good guy, saying he was fired from Besh Restaurant Group for his part in outing the problems there. It’s obvious from this sit down with’s Brett Anderson that – despite the fact that his new restaurant has not suffered any apparent loss of customers – he still considers himself very much in public purgatory:

“In a blistering essay published by Food & Wine, the chef and writer Lisa Donovan held out Shaya’s post as an example of how ‘some men will always feel like we are the best tools for them to get what they need out of any given situation. Some men will stand on our necks while they tell us how strong we are so they can be taller.’ (Donovan did not name Shaya in the essay, but she confirmed over email that she was referring to him.) Shaya counters that he has backed up his words with action. He installed two women – chef de cuisine Cara Peterson and general manager Jessica Retif, both formerly of Shaya – atop Saba’s management structure. In the interview, he spent more time talking about Suzi Darré, a human resources vet who is [Pomegranate Hospitality]’s director of people and culture, than any other employee.”

Redemption Sale – In SF, “A little more than six months since stepping away from his restaurant company as dozens of employees accused him of sexual harassment, Charlie Hallowell has sold Penrose in Oakland. It’s the second restaurant he has sold since the scandal broke. Rico Rivera, a former employee of Hallowell’s restaurant Pizzaiolo and current executive chef at Flora in Oakland, told The Chronicle that he will be taking over as chef-owner of Penrose by October.” Details in the SF Chronicle.

For design fans – The New Yorker has a longform profile of interior designer “India Mahdavi, Virtuoso of Color”, and her influential minimal-chromatic work in spaces like the Ladurée tearooms in LA and Geneva, and Sketch in London (“There is a persistent belief that Sketch is the most Instagrammed restaurant in the world, but, according to Instagram, it is merely the most Instagrammed restaurant in London.”). If you like millennial pink, you are welcome.

For (non)design fans – The latest NYC cocktail bar from Dave Arnold (Booker and Dax), Don Lee (PDT), and Greg Boehm (Cocktail Kingdom) is called Existing Conditions because they kept the space exactly as they found it. Neat. But zero effort doesn’t equal cool. Photo spread here.

Tip Credit Redux – Re the recently-passed-by-popular-vote Initiative 77 bill that would eliminate the tip credit in D.C.: “On Monday, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans told a crowd of anti-77 protestors that on Tuesday, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and ‘a number of’ councilmembers would introduce ‘a bill to overturn Initiate 77’ during their last legislative session before the Council’s summer recess.” Trust the process?

Tip Credit Suits – The Restaurant Law Center sued the DOL late July 6 for maintaining an Obama administration enforcement policy that mandated that tipped workers be paid the full minimum wage for the time they spend on tasks that don’t generate tips, provided those side duties make up at least 20 percent of their weekly hours. The RLC, the litigation arm of the National Restaurant Association, is asking a federal court in Texas to invalidate the policy as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.” That’s the gist in Bloomberg, but if you want more details on the RLC argument, (most of) the suit itself is a surprisingly easy read.

For the bar – Headline from David Wondrich in the Daily Beast: “Forget the Caribbean: Was Rum Invented in India? Newly discovered evidence suggests that rum production predates the Caribbean by at least 1,000 years and may have actually started in South East Asia.” What follows feels obvious (sugarcane was around, so people made booze from it), but Wondrich’s deep dive into the ancient texts is a lot of fun, and good for fresh cocktail inspiration if you need it.

Good get – Yesterday, Joshua Skenes announced on Instagram that Laurent Gras (previously of Guy Savoy and Restaurant Alain Ducasse in Paris, Peacock Alley in NYC, Fifth Floor SF, and L2O Chicago among others) will be joining the team at Saison. Presumably Josh wants to spend more time both on growing his group, and out in the (literal) field.

Tell PR (and writers) – Wine Enthusiast’s senior editor Layla Schlack is in the market for “FOB pitches for early 2019. Stories run 350 words. Here’s what I want: -Beverage trend stories that cover multiple cities/regions -New takes on how to pair food with wine -Q&As with big names.” Details in this thread.

And last and least – The NYT’s “What 8 Thirsty Scenesters Wore to the Broken Shaker Bar” is full of wonderful Q&A’s with guests (“NYT: Why are you’re waiting in line? Guest: It’s my friend’s bar. NYT: Your friends own it and you still have to wait in line? Guest: Friend of a friend. It’s my second day in New York.”) and staff (“NYT: What do you spend most of your time here doing? Server: Garnishing cocktails. Working here is a vibe.”) It is a… joy?

And that’s it for today. I’ll be at this RISE thing in Hong Kong all week, so if you have any questions for the people that have already sold $5.3M(!) worth of vegan cryptocurrency, please let me know.

I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or subcontinental rum to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

The Family Meal – Friday, July 6th, 2018

Hello Friday,

Bit of a short one today, on account of nearly all of food media briefly pivoting to “cookout” for the Fourth. (Odd exception was the Washington Post, which went with a series of recipes for that midsummer classic: Single serving microwaveable mug dinners.)

Let’s get to it…

For the bar – In less than two weeks, the first Tales of The Cocktail under Gary Solomon Jr. and Neal Bodenheimer gets underway in New Orleans. Schedule’s up, and Wine Enthusiast editor Kara Newman has noticed some new features: “First time I’ve ever seen AA meetings hosted through TOTC… and also HIV/Hep C testing… and opioid overdose training …and a mental illness recovery support group.” Plus some social justice stuff, self-care (sleep, food, self-massage, etc.), and more. (Obviously this isn’t all new, but interested to hear if/how things feel different this year. If you’re going, please be in touch!)

P.S. – A reminder: Finalists for this year’s TOTC Spirited Awards are here.

And speaking of finalists… The shortlist for the Basque Culinary World Prize and the 100,000 Euro that go with it (to be given to a project of the winner’s choice) came out this week. And the ten chefs are… Ebru Baybara Demir (Turkey), Viriglio Martinez (Peru), Matthew Orlando (Denmark / USA), Marc Puig-Pey (Spain), Karissa Becerra (Peru), Jock Zonfrillo (Australia / Scotland), Heidi Bjerkan (Norway), Dieuveil Malonga (DRC / Germany), Caleb Zigas (USA), and Anthony Myint (USA). Congrats, all!

The Lists – All lists are trolls, but Robb Report’s catalog of “The 30 Most Influential Restaurants of the last 30 Years” is a fantastic trollPrune made it. The entire continent of Asia did not.

Africa was also left off that list, but did you know it just hosted “the first everBocuse d’Or Africa selection”? I did not. Congrats to winner Morocco and runner-up Tunisia, both headed to the finals in Lyon this January.

Closed on the 4th of July – Another big investment fails in SF’s Mid-Market neighborhood. Shuttered as of Wednesday, “Dirty Water reportedly took more than two years and $4 million to develop… It arrived just after — and long outlived — its neighbor Bon Marché, which had similarly grand plans but shut down in short order in a slew of area closures (think Cadence and Oro, among others).” Details in Eater SF.

Choose your own mid-market excuse:

Commenter #1: “Add this to the list of all the failed businesses that located mid market when the techbros moved in… Their company’s feed them, constantly, and they all work past happy hour.”

Commenter #2: “Mmm yeah…. It’s not the junkies shooting up in the alley, or the guys taking a dump in front of the restaurant, or the syringe obstacle course, it’s the techbros.”

SF Chronicle Food Editor Paolo Lucchesi: “Yes, it’s hard to believe a restaurant named ‘Dirty Water’ didn’t make it.”

And a bit further north – “Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen will close on July 7, ending a Wine Country tenure that began 15 years ago. Cindy Pawlcyn, one of Napa Valley’s most influential chefs, has sold her St. Helena standby.” Details in the Chronicle.

And last but not least – This is an off-topic New Yorker profile about a very particular type of modern celebrity, but the first few (nonfiction) paragraphs read like a Black Mirror episode for restaurants: “A strange creature stalks Los Angeles, hunting for content…. His right hand holds a camera on a stick, which he waves like an explorer illuminating a cave painting. His left hand clutches a smartphone close to his face. Entering a restaurant, he wraps his left wrist around the door handle, so that he can pull the door open while still looking at the phone. Chaos follows him. The restaurant starts getting a lot of unusual phone calls… The restaurant manager asks [the creature] to leave. Almost immediately, the restaurant’s rating on Yelp begins to plummet. Dozens of one-star reviews flood the page within seconds.”

They are the content makers. They are the streamers of streams…

And that’s it for this short, holiday-week edition of Family Meal. I hope you had whatever kind of Fourth of July you wanted to have, even if that meant microwaving dinner in a mug.

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or 100,000 Euros in prize money to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

P.S. I’ll be running around the RISE tech conference in Hong Kong next week, looking to talk to foodtech startups and the like about what’s going on in Asia (delivery wars, restaurant tech, trendy ingredients, etc. etc.). If you’ll be around, please say hi:

The Family Meal – Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

And Happy (almost) Fourth! 1776 feels like forever ago.

Let’s get to it…

What staff is reading – In SF, the Chronicle’s Jonathan Kauffman has a “months-long investigation” into labor violations at Mission burrito institution La Taqueria, which tells the story of four women who won close to $500k in damages and penalties for wage theft, and then another $100k when they were fired after the settlement. There is some expected backlash in the comments about the “business-hating” city government, and the “corrupt” California Labor Board, but whatever your feelings toward the state, Kauffman’s key point is this:

“What happened at La Taqueria exemplifies the violations that regularly occur in small family-owned restaurants: informal arrangements that turn out to be illegal, ignorance of labor laws on the employer’s end, and immigrant workers afraid to advocate for themselves in the workplace.” Everything is always nice and casual until someone sues you for half a million dollars.

That hotel $$$ – LINE LA has a talented new chef to helm its room service and two restaurants — Josiah Citrin. The Melisse and Charcoal chef, who also oversees the casual Dave’s Dog House inside Staples Center… will take over the trendy Koreatown hotel. This comes just off the news that Roy Choi has vacated his five year tenure.” Details in Eater LA.

The (restaurant group) Profile Treatment – In Chicago, Brigid Sweeneytakes a long look at Fifty/50 and its founders Scott Weiner and Greg Mohr: “Today, the duo… operate 12 concepts with 15 locations—including two Roots Pizzas and three West Town BakeriesSteadfast in the Loop, and bars and restaurants inside the Dana and Acme hotels in River North—and are gearing up for a two-year sprint they say will double the company’s annual sales to around $70 million by 2020…. ‘What sets us apart is that we have a portfolio that includes sports bars, upscale bars, fine dining, quick-service bakeries—we’re not all one style or one price point,’ Weiner says. ‘If the economy changes and certain restaurants are affected, we’ll be able to weather the storm.’”

So: Do one thing and do it well, or hedge your bets and open a sports bar? Per my read: Whatever you do, get a hotel and/or developer to cover the build…

For the somm: Some sad news – “Virginia’s wine community is celebrating the life and achievements of one of its giants, Dennis Horton, the maverick vintner who defied conventional wisdom by planting grapes few people had heard of, and in so doing convinced many skeptical oenophiles that Virginia could make great wine. Horton died early Tuesday at his home in Madison, Va…. He was 72.” Full obituary in the Washington Post from Dave McIntyre.

The close – Preeti Mistry and her wife/partner Ann Nadeau on Sunday announced via Instagram they have closed their Emeryville restaurant Navi Kitchen, the year-old follow-up to their beloved Juhu Beach Club in Oakland, which they closed in January after five years.” No word on what’s next.

The Open – In the UK, Bloomberg’s Richard Vines reports/tweets: “Chefs Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White plan to open a restaurant together at The Abbey Hotel, in Bath, this September… There are plans for a roll-out by Black & White Hospitality.” Bonus pic of Koffmann talking to White via trotter? (Update: More details in The Caterer.)

Free speech – Via the LA Times: “Online review site cannot be ordered to remove posts… that a judge determined were defamatory, a divided California Supreme Court ruled Monday in a closely watched case that internet companies warned could be used to silence online speech. In a 4-3 opinion, justices agreed with the warning…” Get mad at Yelp all you want, but you have only the reviewer to blame (and sue).

The Podcasts – The Eater Upsell this week has Uber Eats exec Jason Droege talking the business of delivery, and it’s worth a listen whether your restaurants already use them or not (they’re coming for you anyway). There’s a lot of spin, but also some interesting discussion on “virtual” restaurants that exist as purely online brands operating within established brick & mortar concepts, and a little bit of a peek into how they use – and plan on using – data to adjust both your menu and the way it’s presented to customers.

He also basically confirms what was already heavily implied: Uber Eats’ January purchase of David Chang’s delivery-only restaurant Ando didn’t include any equipment or “physical assets”; it was really an acqui-hire (probably little or no money changed hands: Uber got Chang’s staff, and Chang got to say Uber “bought” his company). No shame in that, but I’m happy to be proven wrong if you guys want to send me the terms!

(P.S. – Upsell hosts Dan Geneen and Amanda Kludt are usually pretty good interviewers, but at this point it’s journalistic malpractice not to ask people who profit off of the gig economy about the people actually doing the gigs.)

Tell (vacationland) PR – Eater national critic Bill Addison ended his last newsletter with: “A question for the Yankees: Any new dining favorites in Portland, Maine?” I’d get in his inbox if I were you:

And that’s it for today. But before I go, a 4th of July message from my dog: “Fireworks are lame.”

I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or 1993 Viognier magnums to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

The Family Meal – Friday, June 29th, 2018

Hello Friday,

Let’s get right to it…

Michelin Season – The first ever guide to Guangzhou, China is out, and… maybe the tourism board can get their money back? No restaurants earned two or three stars, and only eight earned the highest rating of one star: Bingsheng Mansion; Bingsheng Private Kitchen; Jade River; Jiang by Chef Fei; Lai Heen; Lei Garden (Yuexiu); Wisca (Haizhu); and Yu Yue Heen. Then it was just 20 Bib Gourmands and 34 unranked. Population: circa 14.5M.

The language – Looks like NYC is having the same wording issues DC did/does on the question of eliminating the tip credit. Food & Wine recently wrote, “In New York, the minimum wage for tipped workers is $8.75, while for non-tipped workers, the minimum wage is $15,” and Eater headlined their article on the issue “Danny Meyer throws support behind full $15 minimum wage for tipped workers” (before correcting it after USHG denied involvement).

There is a very important debate to be had here, but it’s hard to have it with the voting public when the news seems to imply it is currently legal for servers to earn less than the full minimum wage. “Should tips count toward minimum wage?” That’s a great question! “Should servers be paid only $8.75 an hour when everyone else is guaranteed $15?” That’s… not true?

Full summary of Wednesday’s NY Dept of Labor hearings is on Gothamist. (Comments section enabled…)

The Subtext – Eater NY lede: “For the first time in about eight years, high-concept restaurant company Major Food Group has hired a female executive chef at a restaurant: Ashley Eddie, a 30-year-old with experience at restaurants like Acme, is now leading the kitchen at coastal Italian restaurant Santina.” Congrats, all! But…

Underneath that headline news, editor Serena Dai’s article makes clear serious reputation problems for Major Food Group, which has been the subject of a lot of industry sub-tweeting and rumor spreading lately. Bottom line: If you announce a new chef to the press, and their first reaction is “skepticism over MFG’s sudden press push of a female in leadership”, and multiple references to your “bro-y reputation” and “propensity for bro culture”, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

The (nowhere near) last straw – “Daniel Boulud is the latest restaurant industry powerhouse to join the No Straws movement, announcing on Wednesday that plastic straws will be eliminated from all of his restaurants, including DANIEL, Boulud Sud, Bar BouludCafé Boulud, and DBGB Kitchen & Bar. Starting on July 1, all of Boulud’s restaurants—and other restaurants in the Dinex Group—will begin implementing the no-straws policy.” Details via Food & Wine.

The tax deduction – Per the Chronicle, “Crystal Jade Jiang Nan, the 4-year-old Cantonese restaurant in the Embarcadero Four building, is closing to the public on June 30. The restaurant’s opening in November 2014 made a splash in San Francisco, and not just because of the $14 million renovation of the 20,000-square-foot space. Owned by L Capital Asia, the private equity branch of LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), the Singapore-based Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts group operates more than 130 restaurants in 13 countries. The San Francisco location was the group’s first in the United States.”

That lounge $$$ – Fresh off signing on with Stephen Starr to run the kitchen at his new St. Anselm steakhouse in D.C., chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley is going to… curate the buffet at the Delta Sky Club at DCA. Did you scoff? “San Francisco’s Delta lounge offers an Asian-inspired menu by famed Lemongrass chef Mai Pham, while Seattle’s features fare from Ethan Stowell.”

P.S. Not sure on hiring, but heads up around AUS / PHX… “New Delta clubs in Austin and Phoenix are on the horizon.” (The AUS lounge announcement promises “local brews and bites, inspired by Austin’s foodie scene”, but no word who will run it.)

The Book Shelf – Per Stained Page News: “Anthony Bourdain’s longtime right hand/cookbook co-author Laurie Woolever, will edit BOURDAIN: The Oral Biography, to be published by Ecco Fall 2019.”

And René Redzepi is working with former Lucky Peach editor Chris Ying to resurrect MAD Dispatches as a series of books based on the MAD Symposium. “Each volume of Dispatches will unpack a single urgent and interesting topic from the world of food.” First up is: “You and I Eat the SameOn the Countless Ways Food and Cooking Connect Us to One Another.” (That title sounds like a perfect opening for a critique by New Yorker food writer Helen Rosner, who recently tweeted: “Can we retire the lazy, empty, self-congratulatory trope that ‘food connects people’? Because it doesn’t. People connect people. It’s not the food, it’s the table.”)

The Media – Nashville’s new Eater editor is food blogger Delia Jo Ramsey. “Reach out to her with tips and story ideas here, and don’t forget to follow her on Instagram and Twitter.” Not anonymous; lots of pics on Instagram and her old blog.

For the somm – Two bits of business via the SF Chronicle’s Esther Mobley: “Wine and spirits mogul Dave Phinney just announced the sale of another wine brand to E. & J. GalloLocations, his 90,000-case brand of wines from around the globe. A price was not disclosed.” And “in more wine industry M&A news, Codorníu Raventós – the Spanish company that owns Artesa in Napa – has agreed to sell majority stake to investment firm the Carlyle Group.”

And last but not least, some congratulations are in order: This week in the UK, celebrity chef Rick Stein, 71, was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Prince Charles, while back in the colonies, 28 year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who was recently working as a bartender in NYC – defeated a formidable incumbent, and is most likely on her way to the United States House of Representatives. Same same.

And that’s it for today. Here’s to all the journalists who read this newsletter. In case you can’t tell: I love your work.

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or my long awaited OBE to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

The Family Meal – Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

By now you’ve seen the news that on Friday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was politely asked to leave a small restaurant in Virginia, and politely left. A predictably small, civil online debate over whether the restaurateur acted in the right morally, legally, and/or strategically has followed, but in lieu of adding my personal editorializing, I’ll trust you can find your way around the comments sections:

Eater: “Trump Officials Don’t Deserve Hospitality”

WaPo: “Let the Trump Team Eat in Peace”

NYT: “We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners”

One minor-but-interesting detail not getting a ton of attention: Word was obviously going to get out one way or another, but it was a staff member who first drew broader attention to the situation, by posting a picture of the overnight notes (“86 – SARA HUCKABEE SANDERS”) on Facebook.

And now, because you’re probably already getting bombarded with the above story everywhere else, let’s move on with a few drinks by the bay –

Shot: “$117,400 Salary Qualifies as ‘Low Income’ in S.F.” – SF Weekly

Chaser: “San Francisco Restaurants Can’t Afford Waiters. So They’re Putting Diners to Work.” – The NYT

Digestif: “Baumé in Palo Alto has two Michelin stars — and only two staff.” – The SF Chonicle.

The latter is a Jonathan Kauffman profile on the go-it-alone-story of Christie and Bruno Chemel: “At the time when Baumé earned its second Michelin star in 2011, Bruno oversaw six staffers in the kitchen. Christie managed six in the dining room. But Christie was tired of re-polishing glasses and re-cleaning the bathroom, constantly dragging her servers out of emergencies. Bruno was fed up with berating his cooks for all their mistakes and inexactitudes, not to mention the grumbling. After a lunch in 2012 at Guy Savoy in Paris, where the Chemels and two other tables were served by just the maître d’hotel, they wondered: Could smaller be better? It took the couple until 2015 to rip out the last extra tables and let go of their employees. Four tables a night, Christie quickly found, she could handle.”

Mama always said: If you want something done right, do it yourself and charge $800 per customer.

The profile treatment – Here’s Hilary Cadigan on “Georgia’s new king of Barbecue,” Bryan Furmanin Bon Appétit this week: “Though he’s been a restaurant owner and full-time pitmaster for just four years, Furman, 37, already sits among the greats…. Within months of opening his first B’s Cracklin’ BBQin Savannah in 2014, locals formed lines out the door on Saturdays after Little League to get a taste of Furman’s offerings… The little barbecue shack watched business double, then triple. Then, late one night in June 2015… a soda machine faultily loaded with too much freon exploded, launched 30 feet away, and took the entire right side of the building with it, burning down the rest in a fiery blaze. ‘Yeah, that happened,’ Furman says.”

“I hope he has 50 restaurants in the next 5 years.” – Killer Mike (video at bottom).

The profile treatment too – D.C.’s Rebecca Cooper has a profile on restaurateur Rose Previte, with some basic numbers on national press darling Maydan: “Maydan was a much bigger project, with a $1 million buildout and a third, silent investor. The space housed all of the infrastructure for the entire building, which meant the construction needed many more experts — architects, engineers — than when they built [her first restaurant Compass Rose] mostly on their own…. Maydan is already profitable — rare for a 6-month-old restaurant — and averages 180 diners in the dining room on weekdays and 230 on weekends. That doesn’t include those eating at the 14-seat bar.” Pro tip: Live fire sells…

Some sad news – From Eater Chicago: “The One Off Hospitality Groupfamily is mourning after co-founder Rick “Ricky” Diarmit died suddenly over the weekend while in New York where he was attending his daughter’s high school graduation. The 59-year-old handled the day-to-day operations at Blackbird, the pioneering West Loop restaurant that opened 20 years ago, and Avec next door. Blackbird was One Off’s first restaurant, kicking off the company’s growth into one of the country’s most successful restaurant groups, with a roster that now includes PublicanBig StarViolet Hour, and more.”

And in SF, the Chronicle reports Californios staff member Carlos Chan-Cocom, 33, “was shot and killed [early Friday morning] near his home on Harrison Street in the Mission District, a half-mile away from where he’d just gotten off work.”

For design fans – Congrats to chef Matt Baker on his new solo spot Gravitas in D.C. This photo spread shows a big, open, industrial-chic space – the bright version (less steel mill, more made-for-TV artist’s loft) – with simple, spindle back chairs at natural wood tables on a concrete floor. Great! But, in my best, most petty and irrational Dunaway/Crawford, I look up from the chef’s table seating and growl (to fine dining only): “No. Drop. Ceilings. Ever.”

That tech $$$ – POS giant TouchBistro closed a $72M Series D round a few weeks ago. They say they’re going to use the cash to build and grow, but… ask your rep for a discount?

The Suits – Not sure what to make of this, but former National Restaurant Association Executive VP of Public Affairs Cicely Simpson, appears to be teeing up potential legal action against the NRA according to a June 20 memo obtained by Politico. Eyeball emoji here.

Locol struggles – “Oakland’s only remaining location of Locol, an ambitious effort from chefs Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi to create a healthy fast food chain, has closed.” Choi tells Eater SF, “We are closed on the retail side for now… but please look into our catering services in Oakland and a new location at the Richmond BART station soon and of course San Jose.”

Last and definitely not least – Meant to include this article on Friday for Pride, but better late than never: “Building a Table for All: The Ascent of Queer Food Culture” in the NYT has a bit of everything: cultural scholarship, activism, a “dinner party craze”, and “dancing on the banquettes.” With shout outs (in no particular order) to chefs, writers, and industry types like: Charlie AnderleAngela DimayugaKristopher EdelenKristen KishJulia TurshenMichael TwittyLukas VolgerJohn BirdsallOra WiseBill ClarkLibby Willis, and more. Highly recommend.

And that’s it for today. If your restaurant starts with an R and rhymes with “Bed Hen”, good luck this week…

I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or bespoke wood hangers to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!