The Family Meal – Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Good Tuesday morning!

Thanksgiving is in two days, then its “The Holidays” till next year. Congrats everyone, 2016 has slipped by with barely any news of note at all…

Here’s some restaurant news of note:

AA Gill: “I’ve got cancer.” Nothing in the headline prepares you for that sentence, but there it is right at the open of the legendary Times of London (and sometimes Vanity Fair) critic’s take on the Magpie Café, a five-star fish-and-chips joint in Whitby. The whole review is well worth signing up (free) for a Times account, but I hope he’ll forgive me for including the entire first paragraph here. It’s too remarkable not to quote in full:

“Sorry to drop that onto the breakfast table apropos of nothing at all. Apropos and cancer are rarely found in the same sentence. I wasn’t going to mention it, the way you don’t. In truth, I’ve got an embarrassment of cancer, the full English. There is barely a morsel of offal not included. I have a trucker’s gut-buster, gimpy, malevolent, meaty malignancy. And I’ve mentioned it because, as I write in the first person, and occasionally some of you might take me seriously enough to book a table on a recommendation, you ought to know if there are any fundamental, gastro, epicurean, personal changes that would affect my judgment. If I were, for instance, struck down with palaeo-sidereal veganism, which I hope we would all agree would be worse. Or if I had all my teeth kicked out by an Icelandic horse on his way to the butcher’s.”

Definitely read the full review if you have time, and as you do, spare a thought for this extra layer of context: Gill dictates all his pieces.

Noma Mexico: Rene Redzepi is back on the road, this time partnering with his former pastry chef Rosio Sanchez to pop up in Tulum in April. By my math, dinner will run $750 a pop (including beverage, tax, and gratuity). There’s been a fair amount of consternation over the cost, especially since it’s a lot pricier than at his previous pop ups in more expensive locales (Tokyo and Sydney), but buried among the angry comments alongside this NYT article is a telling note: one lonely reader writes only, “10am eastern time?” Yes, matthew allen of Brooklyn, reservations go live on December 6th, at precisely 10am EST.

Having a PR crisis at your restaurant? Get a bad review lately?

 At least you’re not Maggiano’s Little Italy, which had to issue an apology for accidentally hosting a white power rally in DC this week.

Or Comet Ping Pong, which has been subject to so much election-based / baseless abuse lately that this is an actual headline in the New York Times: “Fact Check: This Pizzeria Is Not a Child-Trafficking Site”

This Family Meal is brought to you by: Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), New York’s first museum with exhibits visitors can eat, now featuring its first-ever cultural exhibition, Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant. The multisensory exhibition chronicles how the Chinese immigrant community overcame prejudice and created one of the country’s most beloved cuisines, while providing an immersive experience for both the mind and the palate. Chow includes 200 curated historical artifacts, a colorful timeline of menus from 1910 to 2016, a working 1,500-pound fortune cookie machine, and a tasting at the ChowCulinary Studio. Tickets for Chow can be purchased on, as well as at the door of MOFAD Lab (62 Bayard St in Brooklyn), where the exhibition is on view on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

 People’s Sexiest (Male) Chefs Alive List is 11 guys long and MANY PEOPLE ARE SAYING there are a few head-scratchers. You decide.

Kitchen vs. Kitchen – It’s official. After filing a trademark complaint back in February, Kimball Musk is now suing Wolfgang Puck for copyright infringement on “The Kitchen” concept. According to Eater, Musk says he and Puck had a friendly lunch at Spago in 2012 to talk about Musk’s restaurant plans, but then “in 2015, without notice or warning to Musk, Puck announced a new, competing restaurant concept, with a familiar name: The Kitchen. And it isn’t just the names that mimic one another. Musk says even the look of the restaurants’ logos bears a striking similarity.”

 “How Visionary Chef Sean Brock Nearly Went Blind” – From GQ on Friday, the story of his diagnosis and struggle with a rare neurological disease can make for difficult reading, but buried among the doctors visits and struggles with keeping healthy as a chef are heart-warmers like this: “The bartender brings over his usual order: a bottle of Budweiser and a shot of Jägermeister. Brock refuses to drink bourbon in most bars because he refuses to drink any bourbon made after 1992, this for arcane reasons that seem like a good warning about the perils of knowing too much.”

Chef moves in SF – Per Inside Scoop: “Melissa Reitz is out as executive chef at Bar Agricole… replaced by Seth Stowaway – a former chef de cuisine that has been with the restaurant/bar since Brandon Jew was at the helm.”

 Holiday Helper: There have been some pretty crappy “Gifts for Chefs” guides so far this year, but at least this one comes from actual chefs. With recommendations from Stuart Brioza (State Bird Provisions), Tyson Cole (Uchi) Jessica Koslow (Sqirl), Angela Dimayuga (Mission Chinese Food), and more…

 And finally: Thanksgiving’s Bad – Before opening AKASHA, chef Akasha Richmond used to do a little side work for a Mr. Michael Jackson, who liked Turkey Day so much, “sometimes he requested it when it wasn’t even the holiday, so while on tour with him, I would always bring a few cans of cranberries in my traveling pantry.” And when they didn’t have turkey, they ate Emu. Tell that to your cousin who forgot the pie.

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