The Family Meal – Friday, December 16th, 2016

Hello Friday,

Welcome back to your twice-weekly Family Meal. Quick reminder: If you’re getting this as a forward, sign up for yourself at thisfamilymeal.com. We deliver.

Here we go…

Follow that man: If you like food writing, and you use a thing called “Twitter”, go see a man named Subtle Cheddar (@shitfoodblogger) and scroll down through his feed for his “Top 100 Food Writers of 2016”. It’s often tongue in cheek (#53 is – my apologies – his balls), but does function as a great “Who to follow” helper. Follow (some of) them. And me. And him.

Meanwhile, over on @realdonaldtrump’s feed… The (almost) Commander-in-Chief’s longstanding feud with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter bubbled up again on Twitter yesterday morning, and while there were several recent VF pieces that could’ve tweaked PEOTUS, the food world was quick to pick this Tina Nguyen review of Trump Grill as the main suspect: “The bathrooms transport diners to the experience of desperately searching for toilet paper at a Venezuelan grocery store. And like all exclusive bastions of haute cuisine, there is a sandwich board in front advertising two great prix fixe deals. The allure of Trump’s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich.” Plus, the martinis look like this. Ugh.

But he’s not getting all bad reviews: The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsemajust gave a solid 2.5 (out of 3) stars to David Burke’s BLT Prime in Trump’s DC hotel. (Though the critic did note it was difficult to find folks willing to come along: “Never in my career have more people turned down the promise of a free meal.”)

Serious allegations of sexual Assault in the LA cocktail worldAs LA Weekly explained yesterday: “Last month, a website called ‘The Reality of Sexual Assault in the Cocktail Community’ launched with the goal to expose what the site describes as rampant sexual assault in Los Angeles’ bar community. To date, 15 women have provided the site with graphic accounts of alleged assaults suffered at the hands of one man, a powerful figure in L.A.’s restaurant and bar scene.” The accused is Alex Straus*, previously of The Bon Vivants, whose co-founders put out their own statement in a Facebook post via Bartenders Against Sexual Assault. (*Related Editors Note at bottom.)

Bye-Bye, BK – First, we learned that Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare just up and moved Tuesday night to the Manhattan location, removing Brooklyn’s only 3-Michelin-starred restaurant. Now, we hear Luksus is closing up on NYE, when chef Daniel Burns will move on to other projects.

Are you one of those people who needs a Top Chef recap? Here you go.

Kimball fights back – The America’s Test Kitchen lawsuit finally has a response from Christopher Kimball, who says among other things that he A) never agreed not to compete, B) is not really competing, and C) shouldn’t have been fired in the first place: “According to Kimball, ATK’s profits went from $22 million in 2014 under Kimball’s leadership to $18 million in 2015 under [David] Nussbaum, with further declines in 2016.”

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 (www.strength.org), 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:
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Wrapping up the no-tipping trend of 2016 in the NYT this week, Julia Moskin writes that while some groups used buying power to keep costs down, and at least one indy added an extra octopus tentacle to offset guest expectations of higher priced dishes, “David Chang, Tom Colicchio and Gabe Stulman all found it unworkable in the small-scale experiments they tried. ‘We continue to be supportive of the no-tipping movement,’ Mr. Colicchio said, ‘but we’ve heard from our customers and team that they just aren’t ready for it yet.’”

For your inspiration: Pete Wells’ Top 10 New York Dishes of 2016 list is here. And his Best Restaurants are here, complete with a 360 video set to classical music…

PSA: Cuisinart is recalling food processors, and the flaw does look dangerous, but even if this “screws up your holiday”, spare a thought for Jackie McDonald, who through a quirk of our cell phone culture is getting hundreds of calls that are supposed to go to the Cuisinart recall line. (At least she picks up the phone…)

SF Wine’s Madoff sentenced – John Fox, the owner of Premier Cru in Berkley, got six and a half years in federal prison for running a “wine futures” ponzi scheme worth at least $45M. “Between 2010 and 2015 alone, Fox sold or tried to sell some $20 million worth of so-called “phantom wine” — wine he said he purchased, but never did…”

And finally: The Best Gift Guide of the Year is an anti-gift guide explaining the latest wine gadgets and their usefulness. Spoiler, most reviews end with: “Scenario in which you should buy this: None.” Send directly to your favorite somm.

See you Tuesday. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or highly rated wine futures to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com.

*Ed. Note: Yeah, I used his name. The LA Weekly piece and a few follow-ups don’t, and I did think long and hard about it, but the women who accused him (in corroborating, detailed accounts), the Bon Vivants, and several others have named him, plus he briefly apologized on FB himself before deleting his posts. Seems strange not to just say it at this point. If he is exonerated in some way, I’ll make sure to post that too and amend this article.

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