It’s Friday, and time for Family Meal. Let’s skip the intro and get right to the news this week:
Anthony Bourdain is a “glorified line cook on CNN” according to Allessandro Borgognone. Somehow, this quote did not make it into Bourdain’s New Yorker profile last week, but did make it into Borgognone’s Esquire profile this week. “[Borgognone] must have known that his saying yes [to opening Nakazawa in Trump’s new hotel] after Andrés and Zakarian said no would generate a fair amount of blowback, but he still seemed surprised that the move couldn’t be accepted as a fundamental entrepreneurial transaction.” Sounds like he and his new landlord are two peas in a pod.
Politics watch: Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder’s confirmation hearing is set for this Thursday (2/16), which means minimum wage and the restaurant business (or at least the major chain / franchise subset of the industry) will be scrutinized in front of a national audience. The NRA is still all in for Andy, but in a shock development, it turns out Chuck Schumer is not a fan.
TV Watch: Netflix series Chef’s Table returns for season 3 a week from today, and FWx has the trailer here. “The latest installment will feature world-renowned chefs Virgilio Martinez (Central), Tim Raue (Tim Raue), Ivan Orkin (Ivan Ramen), Vladimir Mukhin (White Rabbit), Nancy Silverton (Mozza) and Jeong Kwan [‘I am not a chef. I am a nun.’]”
Last night’s TV: Top Chef recap here.
Up and Comer ICYMI (like I did): Apparently, 30 year-old Nick Dostal (quietly) took the reigns at Sixteen in Chicago’s Trump Tower a few weeks ago.
Michelin France has arrived but I can’t find an actual list of the now 616(!) starred restaurants anywhere, so here’s an Eater article summing up the announcements thus far. Looks like 57 places have been newly added to the one-star ranks, at least twelve have been upgraded to two stars, and one – Cheval Blanc from Chef Yannick Alleno – shot straight to the top, giving Alleno six total stars (his Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris has his other three). Per Eater, “Among the 12 restaurants who received upgrades into the two-star category were Le Pressoir d’Argent–Gordon Ramsay, located in Bordeaux, and three restaurants in Paris: Kei (a Japanese-meets-French concept headed by a Ducasse acolyte), La Table de l’Espadon (located inside the Paris Ritz), and Le Clarence (where chef Christophe Pelé cooks French classics).”
1997 was 20 years ago… and that’s when SF’s Rose Pistola (under Reed Hearon) won the national James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. Unfortunately, according to SF Gate, “Owner Laurie Thomas said the last dinner service happened before the Super Bowl.”
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A young you? – ICE is running a video competition for scholarships this year. Some entries are a bit strange… but if you’re looking for a little mental boost, there’s something about the earnestness and hope in these low-budget, slightly labored applications that made me smile. Deadline is noon ET on Wednesday if you know someone who wants in…
Weekend longread – Murder by mushroom: Joshua Hunt tells the story of the dangerous search for spores: “In 2010, only one American died from eating poisonous mushrooms…. That same year, in a span of just 10 days, 18 people died while hunting mushrooms in Italy: In the Lombardy region, they fell into crevasses where their broken bodies succumbed to blood loss and dehydration; in Piedmont… ill-equipped amateurs went into the forests and mountains and succumbed to exposure after becoming lost …And like the U.S., Italy has its share of murder indictments that lead back to some quarrel over mushrooms.”
Gas leak – PR flacks, check out this level of reporting from EaterNY. Want to tease your restaurant opening a little more? Try utilities: “We hear that the gas has been turned on at abcV (38 E. 19th St.) the newest restaurant from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which would mean that friends and family would start next week, with the official opening to follow.”
For your somm – From Jon Bonné in Punch, an optimistic tale of a newly reflective Australian wine industry trying to rediscover its unique terroir, and ditch the “supermarket Shiraz” reputation it raced to cash in on over the last fifty years: “Fifteen years ago, if anyone asked me to define Australian wine in a blink, ‘Barossa shiraz’ would have been the instant answer. But the style of Barossa shiraz that rallied back then—jammy, huge, marked by the pungent herbal notes of American oak—is also what brought on a sort of global fatigue with Australia. As often happened in that flying-winemaker era, it was a case of gilding the lily until the lily fell apart… ‘Putting American oak on Barossa shiraz is like putting sugar on top of your ice cream.’” – It’s a great read: a wine country road trip set to an 80s soundtrack that’ll make you want to rent an old LandRover and Aussie-up your list.
Last and almost certainly least: “Has Salt Bae finally jumped the shark?”Yes.
That’s it! See you on Valentine’s Day. If you’re working that day, here’s hoping you make outrageous amounts of money. If you’re dining out, make one good reservation, keep it, and tip big.
And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or less murderous mushroom treasure maps to firstname.lastname@example.org.