The Family Meal – Friday, February 24th, 2017

Hello, Friday. Hope you’re well.

There is a LOT going on this week. If you don’t have time to read some full articles right now, a reminder that all links live on at for future reference.

Let’s get right to it…

First, some sad news:Bette Kroening, whose Bette’s Oceanview Diner in Berkeley has long exerted a quiet but significant influence on the Bay Area restaurant world, has died at age 71.” – Obituary in the Chronicle. (Here’s a little memory lane bonus courtesy of Jonathan Kauffman.)

And Artie Hoerning “The fisherman, fishmonger and owner of Artie’s South Shore Fish & Grill in Island Park, [NY] died unexpectedly at home on Monday at the age of 70.” – via Newsday.

Northern Lights – The “Nordic Countries” Michelin stars are here, and despite having a Prime Minister with controversial pizza views, Iceland earned one for the first time this year – congrats to Dill! No new three star entries, but Eater notes: “The 2017 guide also marks the first time that a restaurant from Denmark’s Faroe Islands has been included: KOKS, where chef Poul Andrias Ziska uses indigenous island ingredients along with traditional techniques such as smoking and salting.”

We have to talk about Vespertine, Jordan Kahn’s secretive new restaurant “that will serve a $250 tasting menu twice a night to 22 guests” across the street from his Destroyer in LA. The L.A. Times intro is worth a read, especially if you haven’t been following Kahn through his stints at The French Laundry, Per Se, Alinea, and Red Medicine.

Unfortunately, I see ominous social media echoes (from critics Matthew Kang, Pete Wells, and Ryan Sutton) of the ill-fated Shaw Bijou’s early press in DC, partly because of the price, but also because of a concept and a website that doesn’t just risk ridicule, but is absolutely certain to earn it in some circles (“VESPERTINE IS A GASTRONOMICAL EXPERIMENT SEEKING TO DISRUPT THE COURSE OF THE MODERN RESTAURANT”). There’s also a video

That said, Besha Rodell has this take in LA Weekly: “It’s possible Vespertine will be too precious, too pretentious, too expensive. But it’s also possible it could put L.A. on the map at that worldwide level, become that once-in-a-lifetime experience, and garner us the kind of attention that’s eluded us up until now.”

So… place your bets?

Back in the Game – After selling off his stake in NYC’s BR Guest (Blue Water Grill, Ruby Foo’s, Dos Caminos, etc.) amid a flurry of expansion in 2013, Stephen Hanson is opening Life Restaurant in NoMad’s Life building later this spring. “The chef in charge is Michael Vignola, who ran many of Hanson’s BR Guest restaurants,” according to the NY Post.

What you up to, dad? – Eater NY has this great story of Xi’an Famous Foods CEO Jason Wang finding out the founder / his father David Shi had opened up a new restaurant, Qin Ling, without his knowledge. “At one point, he even saw Qin Ling on the company surveillance camera footage and assumed that the security guy had given him access to someone else’s system. It took a couple weeks for him to realize that it was a family-run restaurant.”

What you up to, millennials?DJ Khaled’s personal chef De’Bronya Hodges is opening a restaurant in Miami, and probably on Snapchat too.

This Family Meal is brought to you by Bilgola. Bilgola is a creative agency providing design services for the food service industry. The Bilgola team takes a straightforward, collaborative approach to solving problems for businesses of all sizes, from startups to global brands. Services include beautifying emails and invites, event pages, websites, menus and more. Happy customers include Jamie’s Italian, Nespresso and Kingsley’s Steakhouse. Have a creative challenge? Hit Bilgola with it –

China Live: In San Francisco, the massive Chinese version of Eataly is taking shape and set to open in Chinatown. George Chen (of late local favorite Betelnut) is the man with the plan, backed up by “Robin Lin, who just arrived from Taipei, as well as a few names that will be known to local restaurant watchers: culinary director of operations Joey Altman, sous chef Jonnatan Leiva, pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez and director of beverage Duggan McDonald.” Preview in the Chronicle.

“Blame Anthony Bourdain for Ruining New York” – So says NY Post’s Steve Cuozzo, who doesn’t like food trucks and wants clicks. Shoot, can’t find the link!

Going Solo: After he left Fat Baby, Inc restaurants Estadio, Doi Moi, and Proof last spring, D.C. has been waiting for word from chef Haidar Karoum. Here it is: Chloe is coming to the Navy Yard this fall.

Not going at all: Todd English has backed out of a much-touted plan to open a 230-seat, 6,000-square-foot, multilevel eatery at the W New York Downtown Hotel, The Post has learned.” (Steve Cuozzo gets a click after all…)

Only going with AmEx: While they renovate the flagship, the Eleven Madison Park crew is cashing in on a deal with American Express for a Hamptons pop-up this summer: “Reservations go online on May 1, but you’ll only be able to make one if you have an American Express card. (American Express will actually be the only form of credit-card payment available at the restaurant.)”

For Back of House: If you’re looking for new listens, Bon Appetit has a good list of “chefs’ favorite” F&B podcasts here.

For Front of House: “Waitress in Australia drags 6-foot lizard through restaurant like it’s no big deal.” With video to prove it.

Also from Down Under – The Blacklist: “Australia’s most dominant online restaurant-booking service, Dimmi, introduced a blacklist program last year, allowing restaurateurs to bar customers for up to a year for not showing up. Today, 38,000 diners are on that list – last year there was only 3159…. There has been a 25 percent decrease in no-shows. The company promises to reduce no-shows to zero by 2020.”

The Profile Treatment – If you’ve enjoyed the recent spate of big chef profiles (Daniel Humm in Esquire, Anthony Bourdain in the New Yorker, and Dominique Crenn in the NYT), here’s a treat: D.C.’s Washington City Paper has an excellent little story on one of the city’s favorite Somms, Nadine Brown of Charlie Palmer Steak.

And finally, some magazine moves:

For Fellow TravelersEater Travel is here. For now, it’s basically just the non-US city guides (new this week: Tokyo) mixed in with their usual international pieces, but there’s a travel show debuting soon (today?) and more frequently updated new guides on the way.

For New Yorkers – THE New Yorker has a new online format for it’s Goings on About Town section, and the Food and Drink columns (Table for Two and Bar Tab). Swank. (Also, this Aska review is worth reading because “The vibe is best described as hipster funeral…”)

That’s it for Friday. I’m going outside for a nice long walk because it’s February. If you’re working the patio, I hope the day drinkers are feeling generous today.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or your favorite Khaled snaps to

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