The Family Meal – Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Hello, hello, and Happy Valentines Day (if that’s your thing)!

Before we get started, I’ll say it again: If you’re working today, here’s hoping you make outrageous amounts of money. If you’re dining out, make one good reservation, keep it, and tip big.

There’s been some political news this week. Here’s the restaurant side of things…

Those Trump clicks: On Friday, EaterDC launched an Ivanka tracker to map the First Daughter’s dining around the District. Reactions were mixed, but the editors say they’d “rather watch – and possibly learn something – than turn a blind eye.” Cable news understands.

Reservations vs. tickets vs. diners vs. restaurants: Via EaterSF – “Starting in mid-April, the two Michelin-starred [Dominique] Crenn will drop Resy and instead accept bookings through Tock… The challenge, of course, it to convince diners to part with their disposable income in advance of a meal; Daniel Patterson’s Coi experimented with Tock a while back before eventually switching back to OpenTable.”

TV Fans – Word in The Sun is: “Cookery queen Prue Leith is to replace Mary Berry as a judge on The Great British Bake Off. Restaurateur, writer and food campaigner Prue, 76, will join Paul Hollywood when the country’s most pop­ular show moves to ­Channel 4 this year.” Come for the baking, stay for the romance novels

Radio Fans – Forgot to mention, but by now you’ve heard that Francis Lam is taking over The Splendid Table on NPR. His first episode airs March 10th.

Book Fans – A new James Beard bio is coming. John Birdsall, who writes everything from food-based fiction to deep dives into orange juice drenched protest movements – and who won his latest subject’s namesake award last year for his piece “Straight-Up Passing: The State of Queer Chefs in America” – announced on Facebook yesterday that W.W. Norton & Co. has given him a year to chase “Beard’s ghost in Portland and on the Oregon coast; in San Francisco, where he took up a yearly residency at the Stanford Court Hotel; and especially in New York City. I’ll be looking at Beard’s life and influence, his loves, his brilliance and his shadows, and his creation of an American cuisine.” Can’t wait.

NY’s SWEAT bill could pass this year –If you’re unfamiliar (as I was), this Business Insider piece about wage theft in the restaurant industry has some details: SWEAT is “an acronym for ‘Securing Wages Earned Against Theft.’ The law would make it harder for employers to hide, transfer, or dispose of their assets while waiting for a court judgment. It would also make company owners personally responsible for stolen wages, so that even if a company dissolves, the owners still have to pay up.”

See here for a summary of the bill. Wage theft lawsuits could trigger liens, asset “attachment”, and liability for the largest shareholder in a business…

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:

“These lists infuriate me” – Speaking of wage issues, NPR’s The Salt has an important op-ed from Diep Tran on the maddeningly low value placed on “ethnic” foods.

Michael Mina in Chicago – Margeaux Brasserie, serving classic French food, will take over the third-floor restaurant space in the Waldorf Astoria in the Gold Coast, the chef told the Tribune. Petit Margeaux, a French patisserie, will open on the lobby level of the hotel. Both restaurants are expected to open in early May…. Brent Balika, formerly of The Dawson, will run both kitchens.”

For your Somm – Is the first taste on it’s way out? The NYT’s Eric Asimov talks to Erica O’Neal of Italienne (where they skip customers’ first taste) and John Ragan of USHG (they go the traditional route): “Wine is intimidating enough without saddling it with pointless rigmarole. Of all the anxiety-producing moments faced by consumers who simply want to drink some wine, the age-old restaurant ritual of tasting a bottle before it is served may be the most awkward… Those unsure of what to do or lacking confidence may simply go through the motions to avoid potential humiliation… Certain alpha personalities will reject wines for no reason other than to demonstrate that they can.”

Untapped business model? – With all the meal / meal-kit delivery services duking it out for average customers, maybe some niche markets are being missed… Check out this fascinating look at Japan’s elderly-specific culinary scene in the NYT. “[Restaurants] that tailor meals to the needs of older eaters include luxury hotels like the New Otani in Osaka or the Nikko Kanaya in Tochigi, about 85 miles north of Tokyo, which honor special requests to chop or purée courses. Yoshinoya, a casual restaurant chain that serves a variety of beef and rice bowls, now sells special packages of softened beef stew to nursing homes and hospitals.” Is Blue Apron Florida on top of this or what? Is there a high-end meals-on-wheels I’ve missed?

And finally… Remind your island friends – After the Genki Sushi, bad-scallop Hepatitis A outbreak last year, upwards of 90,000 Hawaiians are due for their second round of shots soon.

That’s it for today. Whether you’re with someone tonight or not, you read this newsletter, so I think you’re wonderful. And at least you’re not Michael Flynn.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or Ivanka’s exact table coordinates to

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s