The Family Meal – Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Good Friday afternoon,

If you’re getting this forwarded to you, sign up to never miss it at thisfamilymeal.com. In my unbiased opinion, it is the best newsletter for / about the restaurant industry around.

Let’s get skimming aggressively…

First, yes: Top Chef Season 14 premiered last night. But Tom Colicchio didn’t have time to watch it and neither did I. If you absolutely must read a recap, this one is vaguely amusing.

Tell your vegan friends: For the first time in its 30-year history, the Bocuse d’Or main plate will go all veg for the 2017 competition.

Congrats to Michael Cruse – named Winemaker of the Year by the SF Chronicle. “If [his outrageously popular sparkling wine brand] Ultramarine is the wine of the moment, Cruse Wine Co. is a vision for California wine’s future. That’s why Michael Cruse is The Chronicle’s 2016 Winemaker of the Year.”

The Trump Effect: If no press is bad press, Sushi Nakazawa’s Alessandro Borgognone is off to a great start for his upcoming restaurant at the new Trump Hotel in DC.  Asked by NY Magazine’s GrubStreet if he had any competition in the capital, Borgognone said, “We don’t have any. I don’t know if I’m using the right words. I don’t sound humble. But I am. It’s just, you know, can you name an amazing sushi restaurant in D.C.?”

Local food writers and chefs were predictably livid at the lack of respect / research (Google might have let chef in on at least two poorly kept local secrets: the always-packed Izakaya Seki, and Michelin-starred Sushi Taro), but always magnanimous José Andrés struck a more forgiving tone, presuming the slight to be the accidental, if unfortunate result of “a big night of saki.”

The Last Laugh: Still, despite the same GrubStreet interview also suggesting DC’s culinary scene has “an Olive Garden problem” in terms of its sophistication, Zagat just named DC the number one hottest food city in America. Rounding out the top 5, top to bottom: LA, Denver, Boston, and Seattle.

End of year closings: Despite 3 stars from Pete Wells, chef Bryce Shumanand GM Eamon Rockey have set final service at Betony in NYC for NYE. Details – NYT.

And after over 20 years in DC, Jeff Buben is closing Vidalia on 12/15.

End of year opening: After over two years prep, Dan Kluger’s Greenwich Village spot Loring Place is finally set to open next week.

Blanchard lawsuit settled in Chicago. Despite accusing chef and minority owner Jason Paskewitz of stealing over half a million dollars from the Lincoln Park restaurant (to spend on, among other things, bills at Barney’s and Prada, and “578 separate charges from Monsignor Murphy’s, a bar in… Lakeview”), majority owner Richard Duffy now says all is well, and everyone will stay put. No details were released, but presumably the deal means Paskewitz will have to stick to the kitchen and stay out of the checkbook.

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 chow.mofad.org, 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.

It could happen to you: Geranium SMACKED with “frowning smiley”! After a health inspection found poor seafood storage and some moldy garlic, “the regulator awarded the [only Michelin 3-star restaurant in] Copenhagen… a “frowning smiley”, the lowest grade of its four-tier system.”

Your truffle guy isn’t trying to screw you. Black truffles may actually be scarcer this year. “When one of France’s most revered Périgord truffle markets, Sainte Alvère closed its doors after 10 minutes of vending due to a dearth of product, a collective gasp echoed throughout… France’s truffle industry. There weren’t enough black diamonds to go around.” Story from Alex Tewfik in Eater.

Ugh: At NYC’s only culinary high school, the stoves don’t work. “Due to poor gas supply and other problems, ovens and ranges at Food and Finance HS in Hell’s Kitchen have been cold since DOE repair work this summer, and administrators are at their wit’s end, sources said.” Highly frustrating NY Post story here.

“Response was positive.” – That’s the NYT obituary page deadpanning the introduction of a little sandwich called the Big Mac. Its humble creator, Golden Arches franchisee Jim Delligatti, died on Monday, at 98 years young.

Food Writing Fans: Keep your eyes on the Washington Post’s food section. They’re already putting out some fantastic content, but just brought digital editorMatt Brooks over from the sports section, possibly for bigger and better things…

A friendly reminder to pay what you owe – Because as this Washington City Paper profile points out, there are law firms out there that exist solely to sue restaurants for wage theft. Notable District targets have included Little Serow, Sushi Taro, and an unnamed Bryan Voltaggio location. One firm’s website features a quote from Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money. Yep.

Tell the PR team: Massive NYC restaurant courier company Homer Logisticsis now basically the Fair Trade of delivery services. According to the NYPost, on top of coming health benefits, “Homer’s couriers, whose wages currently start at $15 an hour, also will begin receiving stock options in the private company after working 2,000 hours.”

And one last “no press is bad press” lesson: Want to place your product on grocery shelves? Take a page from this profile of the Banza chickpea pasta guys in the NYT this week: “Public humiliation would pay off handsomely for Mr. Rudolph… [who] understood throughout the journey from obscurity to the shelves of nationwide retailers that drawing attention by any means necessary to himself and, by proxy, the product, was a modern marketplace imperative.” (He threw a box of pasta at the host of a TV show. Classic move.)

That’s it for Friday. If you’ve made it this far, here’s a small holiday surprise: I’ve got a free subscription to Lucky Peach to give away, so the first person to reply to this newsletter and ask for it, gets it. I hope it’s YOU.

See you Tuesday. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or Cruse Wine Co. gift cards to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com.

A note to PR folks: I’m especially interested in news about up-and-comers in your kitchens. And for food writers and newspaper types: send links you think’ll fit, and I’ll see if I can fit ’em in!

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