The Family Meal – Friday, December 30th, 2016

Good Friday afternoon,

Quick heads-up: The arrival of your author’s second child was imminent two weeks ago, and now it is really, really imminent. With that in mind, this will be the last Family Meal until mid-to-late January. I’ll miss you while I hygge, but I will be back!

Here we go…

“Humility creeps up on you” – Rising-star chef Kwame Onwuachi has given in to the backlash over pricing at his ambitious Shaw Bijou in D.C.  In a city now accustomed to the high-end of special occasion and expense-account dining, neither press nor public could get over the minimum spend of $185 (without drinks, tax, or tip), much less the fact that a two-top could easily hit $1k at a restaurant run by a 27-year old rookie (of sorts). So yesterday, Onwuachi posted an apology to the District on Instagram, and lowered prices for tasting menus to $95 for 7 courses and a welcome cocktail.

ICYMI – Two big bits of news out of Del Posto last week: 1) Mark Ladner is stepping down to join a “pasta start-up” (in quotes because everything is a start-up now, and his new Pasta Flyer project definitely isn’t just a fast-casual pasta chain / personal money minter). He wasn’t a partner in Del Posto, and wanted to own something. Fair enough. 2) Melissa Rodriguez will move from Chef de Cuisine to Executive Chef, making her the first woman to helm an NYT four-star kitchen.

Tell your cleanse friends: There’s a “wellness” themed horror movie coming called “The Cure for Wellness”. It may as well be called GOOP.

Dungeness drama –  “A strike by fishers who account for almost half the Dungeness crab catch in California is adding a new twist to a season that was already dogged by delays and uncertainty.” According to Tara Duggan in the Chronicle, a major wholesaler tried to unilaterally drop its price by almost 10%, and that didn’t go over too well. “The fishermen in Humboldt Bay have tied up, and the tie-up has spread as far north as Washington and as far south as Bodega Bay”.

Thomas Keller hits the beach – He’s slated to open in Miami in 2018. As the Herald has it, “About 18 months ago he met The Surf Club’s new owner, Nadim Ashi, for dinner in New York, and he became convinced Surfside’s historic beach club was the right project… [In NYC], Keller is working with Dolphins owner Stephen RossRelated Group to hand-pick a dozen restaurants, including one of his own, that will go into the massive Hudson Yards project.”

Side note: The single most-read New York Times food story this year was Pete Wellsbrutal review of Keller’s Per Se. Rest of NYT’s top food stories of 2016 here.

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:

The Great Diner Die-off in NYC continues. This time, midtown’s Evergreen Diner is closing at noon on NYE. (Meanwhile, late-breaking unconfirmed news in D.C. that the famous Florida Ave Grill may be closing???)

And Carnegie Deli’s last night is tonight. Despite a last-minute offer of $10M from former dishwasher – and now restaurateur in his own right – Sammy Muscovic (Sojourn, Selena Rose, Vero), owner Marian Harper-Levine intends to close up shop at midnight. The Daily News says “She wants to retain the Carnegie name so she [can] expand ‘wholesale and retail operations’ and focus on ‘licensed locations.’”

FYI: It’s the end of the year, and editors across the country are filling the slow news holidays with… Lists! But I won’t bore you with a list of the lists, because the only really fun one is: “Everything the Internet Subjected Guy Fieri to in 2016”. And Eater has done the hard work of rounding up every food trend people are predicting for 2017. I predict some of them are DEFINITELY going to come true, and the rest are dumb.

Russian food politics – In a larger NYT story about spies among us, this little tidbit caught the eye of Pete Wells: “In 1992, a Centreville resident told a reporter for The Associated Press that the Russians did not cook crabs the local way, by throwing live crabs into a pot of boiling water. ‘They stab them with a screwdriver, break the back shell off, clean them and then boil the body,’ she said.”

And finally: For some reason, Eater is telling its readers to stay in on NYE. That’s stupid. It’s been a rough year for a lot of folks, and the future is uncertain. If you’re not one of my industry readers who are working that night, get out there and have some fun. Also, tip big.

All my best to you and yours, and Happy New Year! I’ll see you in a few weeks. Lots of big moves happening here this winter, so expect your friends to ask you if you get “that Family Meal newsletter” in 2017. Appropriate answer: “Do Russians kill crabs with screwdrivers? Of course.”

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or food-related horror movie trailer links to

*Correction: In the email version, I said Chef Kwame was 25. That’s how I’ll always remember him, but he’s actually 27.

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