The Family Meal – Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Good Tuesday to you,

Welcome back to your twice-weekly Family Meal. Quick reminder: If you’re getting this as a forward, sign up for yourself at It’s best fresh.

Here it is…

Before all else: Goodbye, AA Gill, who for the purposes of this newsletter we’ll call “a restaurant critic,” though to many he is much, much more – and to some on the receiving end of his polemical reviews, much, much worse. Gill passed away on Saturday of the cancer he so bluntly described only a few weeks ago in his last review, and so painfully expanded on in his criticism of the NHS in his farewell piece. In his honor, you should read not only the NHS essay, regardless of your American healthcare political stripes, but also some of his wittiest quotes (apologies to: PR people, Dr. Who fans, and Morrissey, among others), and his most scathing reviews as collected by Eater (“Tell me, off the top of your head, what two attributes should hot-and-sour soup have? Take your time.”).

Interesting aside: At the bottom of the NYT obituary of Gill is this note, “His younger brother, Nick [Gill], a Michelin-starred chef, disappeared in 1998 after a mental breakdown.” That tragic story is here.

And now, all the rest…

Dutch StarsThe Netherlands Michelin Guide is out, and you can poke around the new list/map on the (slightly clunky) official site, or read a solid summary via Dutch News in English: “Five Dutch restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars for the first time, but the Netherlands was unable to add to its pair of three-star establishments… De Librije in Zwolle and Restaurant De Leest in Vaassen, Gelderland.”

Fun fact: “Chateau Neercanne, in Maastricht, was awarded a crystal trophy for its unbroken run of 60 years in the guide.”

Danny Meyer’s new and improved(?) Union Square Café opened Thursday. No great insights into how the restaurant has captured the feel (or taste) of the original, but it’s fun to compare EaterNY photographer Daniel Krieger’s opening night shots with this NYT slideshow from mid-build back in September. I love it when a plan comes together. (Any old-time USC regulars on this list? Please let me know what you think!)

Data fans: Looks like Google Labs has a new tool to visualize internet interest in various food trends. Came out two weeks ago, and I’m not exactly sure how it all works, but here it is.

Design fans Check out these pics from the new Tom George in downtown LA. Damn. Damn?

Beekman Shade: No matter what they say, it was always going to be at least a little weird for Keith McNally and Tom Colicchio to have restaurants sharing a hotel lobby. Eater’s critic Robert Sietsema’s initial review of (McNally’s) Augustine sums up the FOMO that cohabiting a building (as opposed to a street or neighborhood) brings out in guests: “’Nice to be in the restaurant of the moment,’ my friend noted as we threaded our way through the crowded barroom afterwards, ‘but I hear Fowler and Wells is better.’”

**This Family Meal is brought to you by Add Passion and Stir: Big Chefs, Big Ideas, a weekly podcast about inspirational people who are changing the world. In each episode, Billy Shore, the creator of the No Kid HungryCampaign (, brings together prominent change-makers and guests from the culinary world to discuss how food is at the intersection of social transformation. 

Guests on the podcast include James Beard Award-winning chefs who have amassed a host of Michelin Stars, joined by leaders in the public and private sectors who are making profound positive changes in the world: Chef José Andrés, U.N. Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin, Shake Shack CEO Danny Meyer, Chef Traci Des Jardins, and many more.  Listen, Subscribe, Rate, and Review:**

Bar Tartine’s final (and next) act – Their lil pop-up, Motze, is humming along (nontraditionally), and Nick Balla and Cortney Burns are prepping to open Crescent too, but folks still have a lot to say about the end of Bar Tartine in this great Chronicle longread – with cameos from Bon Appetit deputy editor Andrew Knowlton, Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony, Portland star Aaron Patrick Adams and more.

Trump v. Think Food Group update – The President-elect will be deposed in early January re: his continuing legal action against José Andrés. USA Today notes: “Trump’s attorneys argue the deposition needs to take place at Trump Tower in New York City, for ‘security reasons.’” To which Andrés’ lawyers replied, “It seems dubious that the President-elect cannot be afforded adequate security in the capital of the United States, but Defendants are willing to accommodate that demand.”

Harlem favorite The Cecil “merges” with Minton’s: A bit of an odd arrangement, but chef JJ Johnson will still helm the kitchen, so all is not lost on 118th.

New food emojis are here – And while the paella may not be perfect, Bon Appetit has the big reveal here.

At this point, what’s the point? Grubstreet sums up Chipotle’s decent into Golden Arches territory at its Tasty Made burger brand. After dropping their “Responsibly Raised” beef purchasing pledge, “Tasty Made is now ‘considerably less expensive’ than even Five Guys, where it’s $7.69 for a cheeseburger and $4.19 for fries, compared to $2.55 and $1.95, respectively, at Tasty Made. The result… is Chipotle’s foray into burgers is starting to look indecipherable from ‘traditional fast food.’”

Musical Finale: None other than SNL / Portlandia star Fred Arminsen came out with a “record” produced for KFC yesterday. BUT lest you forget, the best food brand musical promotion this year was definitely Hamburger Helper’s mixtape (including iconic Feed the Streets lyrics “I just dumped out that whole packet / Add the powder let it simmer / I was whippin whippin whippin / Should be done bout 10 minutes.”). AND the best video of the year goes to the Minneapolis teens behind healthy eating rap Grow Food.

See you Friday. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or favorite AA Gill clips to

PS – Food writers and newspaper types: feel free to send links you think’ll fit. The Family Meal goes out to a national audience of industry folks and food fans. I just want to point them to key stories and great writing, so all links go directly to your articles.

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