The Family Meal – Friday, February 17th, 2017

Hello, Friday.

Quick reminder: If you’re getting this as a fwd, welcome to Family Meal. It’s a twice-weekly roundup of news for / about the restaurant industry, and you can sign up to get it delivered at

Business done, let’s get to it…

PSA: Staff training refresher – How to Spot Abuse: If you see Chris Christie ordering meatloaf, intervene carefully. He may be under duress.

Hashtag A Day Without Immigrants – Dozens (hundreds?) of restaurants nationwide were closed yesterday to call attention to the importance of immigrants to the nation’s food industry. The epicenter was Washington, D.C. (check out the Washingtonian’s photo stream of closure signs), but for a national look, Eater put together a separate roundup of its entire network’s coverage, and Whitney Filloon talked to owners and management across the country about the costs of getting involved and the different strategies implemented to limit financial damage to both businesses and staff.

Key quote from Filloon’s piece: “News of the boycott seems to have spread organically via social media and word of mouth, rather than being backed by any one group in particular.”

Side note: The estimated percentages of dishwashers/cooks and agriculture workers who are undocumented is roughly the same: 25-30%*. (Of course, Big Ag’s more under-the-radar strategy for calling attention to it’s own need for immigrants is a quaint little tactic called big money lobbying.)

NRA Labor Sec favorite Andy Puzder is out – There was not a lot of love for the Hardee’s / Carl’s Jr. CEO anywhere in or out of Congress. As MSNBC’s Morning Joe so gently put it: “Who in the hell calls working class Americans who made him rich ‘the worst of the worst’? A loser, that’s who.” For a slightly subtler look, the New Yorker has you covered.

“Beard season has arrived” – The James Beard Award semifinalists are here, and so are the questions about diversity and fairness. Just one example from Twitter: “Baffles me how the James Beard folks are so enamored with NYC’s Japanese chefs, but then completely snubs them come awards’ time.” Awards lists are always controversial – and often rightly so – but if you made this one, congrats! Finalists TBA March 15th, winners on May 1st.

Two big profiles this week:

Dominique Crenn gets the NYT treatment – But discussion of her work has to share a lot of space with “what it means to be a leading woman in what remains a male-dominated field.” That conversation is not helped – though its roots are certainly illuminated – by this gem from embattled SF Chronicle critic Michael Bauer: “She cooks the way the men are cooking… Like what you’d see at Benu or Quince or Le Bernardin.”

Daniel Humm gets the Esquire treatment – And it’s a beaut from Jeff Gordinier: “Then he puts down a glass of wine and explains that when he uses the word passion, he’s referring to a German word: leidenschaft… it means something more along the lines of ‘enjoy suffering.’… By the time of his near-death experience on that hillside in the Swiss Alps, when he was twenty-five, Daniel Humm had already endured a decade or so of serious leidenschaft. He dropped out of school when he was fourteen and moved out of his family’s house soon after. He never got along with his father.”

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:

Michelin-starred Take Root closing after 4 years in BK – Speaking of the JBAs, semifinalist Elise Kornack and her wife Anna Hieronimus have just announced that final service for their innovative 12-seater will be March 17th. Grubstreet’s obit is worth a read, because this one’s not about high rent or low reservations. “Business is better than ever,” but it’s just the couple running the whole show, and that’s hard enough without dealing with “bad energy” and occasional homophobia from customers…

Big Get – Louisville star Edward Lee is moving his “family and base of operations to [D.C.] this spring”. He tells WaPo: “I see D.C. I see where it’s going. I see the players there… I think it’s in any ambitious person’s wheelhouse to go, ‘I want to play in the sandbox with the big boys.’” He’ll have his hands full with a downtown version of Succotash that’s supposed to have 350 seats over three floors and 9,000 square feet.

Your Top Chef recap is here. (Fans will also appreciate Hugh Acheson’s rules reminder on Twitter: Each contestant “is given a 1964 Encyclopedia Britannica, two rolls of tape, a lighter, and a dime bag of weed. That’s it.”)

Pittsburgh rising – A heads up that Derek Stevens’s Union Standard opens today. Now it just has to make Pittsburgh the next great food town in America. No pressure.

This Dish Has No Sole – (Sorry) – Via Grubstreet: “The L.A. Times saysOdeum, a Mediterranean eatery with a Michelin-starred chef… agreed to the whopping [$120k] settlement after authorities discovered the restaurant was giving customers tilapia instead of a pricier white fish… petrale sole.” BUT, it’s the kind of settlement a restaurant owner loves, since $30k of it will be paid out by giving $30 gift cards to customers who ordered the $32 dish…

“Gladys Knight no longer tied to chicken, waffles” – Seems her lawsuit worked, and her son has removed her name from his restaurants. “Midnight Train” still on the menu.

That’s it for Friday. Good luck out there this weekend! See you back here on Tuesday…

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or the Mar-A-Lago meatloaf recipe to

*Via Eater says: “According to a 2008 Pew study, 28 percent of dishwashers and nearly 20 percent of cooks working in U.S. restaurants are undocumented immigrants.” Via Bloomberg: “About a quarter of the U.S. farm workforce, more than 300,000 people, don’t have valid immigration papers, according to a 2009 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center.”

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