Intro shmintro, let’s get to it…
FIRST things first – Jonathan Gold’s LA Times Restaurant of the Year: “The choice was inevitable – no restaurant in years may have made more of a difference than Locol, Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson’s skater-themed fast-food spot in Watts.” – Brief, glowing article and video, here.
P.S. If you’re wondering how Pete Wells feels about this, the man who gave Locol a controversial zero-star review in the NYT earlier this year is quick to point out that he reviewed the Oakland location, not Watts…
Michael Bauer’s S.F. Chronicle Top 100 list for the Bay Area also came out yesterday.
Speaking of Awards – The James Beard Media Awards came out Tuesday night and the full list is here. Congrats, all! Highly recommend picking through the list and searching out some of the food writing / media you may have missed this past year. Of note: In the He’s Still Got It category, Pierre Koffmann won the “Cooking from a Professional Point of View” award for his book Classic Koffmann. And if you have any Appalachia in your kitchen at all, now is the time to seize the moment – “Book of the Year” went to Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy.
Reminder: The JBF Restaurant and Chef Awards are Monday in Chicago at 6pm Central. Livestream should be available here, and they have a handy “Get Notified” button to add it to your calendar for you. Best of luck to all the nominees! (Bit of pre-show gossip: Chef Kwame Onwuachi just won a free trip to the awards…)
Koi in Trump Soho closing: Grubstreet has the backstory, including this subtle wink-nudge from the group’s general counsel: “I would prefer not to speculate as to why, but obviously since the election it’s gone down.”
Jeremiah Tower, so hot (again) right now – He and Mario Batali are planning a new restaurant on the Amalfi Coast. Eater reports: “Earlier this week, Tower told Bon Appetit, ‘If Mario Batali would like to open a restaurant on the Amalfi Coast with me, I would do it.’ Today, Batali revealed on Twitter that the two superstar chefs are actually in the ‘planning phase.’… a spokesperson for Batali says that this is not a joke and the chefs are indeed on the hunt for beach-front properties between Atrani and Vietri along Italy’s Amalfi Coast.”
Meanwhile, Batali’s pre-Babbo West Village spot Pó has closed.
Corporations are people too – Also via Eater: “Chef David Chang has hired a new president to run all of the [Momofuku] restaurants nationwide — a former financial world guy who worked for the Batali and Bastianich group for 13 years during a massive growth period… Alex Munoz-Suarez”
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Food Hall Fever – Amazon killed the shopping mall, but all the delivery services in the world can’t stop the food hall business model right now. NYC is currently looking to develop Sunset Park with a new request for proposals to fill a vacant building in the Made in NY campus with food businesses. And Austin just got the confirmed lineup for its new Fareground concept (smack in the middle of downtown at 111 Congress), curated by ELM Restaurants and Easy Tiger head chef Andrew Curren.
Fast Casual Beats Fine Dining – Latest example, from Eater D.C.: “Restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn is shuttering steak frites restaurant Bearnaise at the end of the month, replacing the French bistro with a new fast-casual concept for Sunnyside Restaurant Group: a taqueria.”
Chicago’s Big Contract – “The team behind Logan Square’s Giant restaurant will be in charge of all the food at the Ace Hotel Chicago, currently under construction at 311 N. Morgan St…. Chefs Jason Vincent and Ben Lustbader and bar manager Josh Perlman will oversee a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; a lounge; and all room service and private banquet dining for the hotel, which is aiming for a summer opening.” Details in the Tribune.
Side note: those last three stories are the three big $$$ industry trends right now – food halls, fast casual, and hotel contracts. Nice work if you can get it.
Tell the young’uns / young guns: The application deadline for San Pellegrino’s Young Chef 2018 “global talent search” competition is this Sunday, April 30th: “Chefs de cuisine, chefs de partie, sous chefs and commis, aged 30 or under, from around the world, with at least one year’s work experience, are invited to apply.”
Tell the bar: This Washington Post multimedia feature on dive bars across the country is a lot of fun, and has some good lessons learned – “What do you mark the success to?” “The wonderful patrons that love chicken-shit bingo.” And so on.
Tell PR: Vice’s Munchies website is doing a Chinese Food Week thing. It’s got some neat articles sure, BUT it’s also giving chefs an incredible free platform for self-promotion. Mister Jiu’s own Brandon Jew got to write an article for Vice’s massive audience titled: “Brandon Jew’s Restaurant Tells the Story of San Francisco’s Chinatown.” And Jason Wang of Xi’an Famous Foods has one subtitled: “The story of David Shi and Jason Wang is the story of Xi’an cuisine in NYC.” Now that is some quality PR work. Time to figure out which cuisine they’re featuring for next, and get in there…
Speaking of SF Chinatown, some sad news this week in the Chronicle: “Henry Chung, a prolific San Francisco restaurateur and one of the first chefs to introduce Hunanese cuisine to the United States, died Sunday at age 99.”
Also sad: “It’s horrible. I’ve never seen it like this.” – That’s D.C. chef Robert Wiedmaier (Brasserie Beck, Marcel’s) in Laura Hayes’ latest WCP cover story: Opioids Make the Restaurant Industry’s Addiction Crisis Even Deadlier. Feels like this story is going to be written and re-written over and over again, but they’ll all be worth reading till something changes. Ugh.
Wait, wait, there’s one last-and-least – Katy Perry’s new single is called Bon Appétit, and is almost exclusively made up of food/sex puns. It’s here. “I’m a five star Michelin / A Kobe flown in… Got me spread like a buffet / Bon Appétit, ba-by.” I’m so very sorry.
That’s it for Friday. See you again on Tuesday. In the meantime, if you’re working this weekend, I someone tips you so well your receipt goes viral.