The Family Meal – Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Hello Tuesday,

A relatively brief Family Meal for you today. In case you missed it…

The James Beard Awards were last night, and host Jesse Tyler Ferguson did his darndest to go full Oscars, complete with bad jokes and costume changes (here he is in nothing but an apron…).

Full list of winners here; big national awards below. But first: The award for straight-up honest commentary went to Stephen Starr who, in his acceptance speech for Outstanding Restaurateur, did not wax philosophic about ingredient integrity or food bringing us together, but did say (as best I can remember): “Thanks for making me famous, or whatever I am in this industry, and for making me rich.”

Congrats, all!

Best New Restaurant Le Coucou, NYC;
Outstanding Baker Mark Furstenberg, D.C.;
Outstanding Bar Program Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, NOLA;
Outstanding Chef Michael Solomonov, Philadelphia;
Outstanding Pastry ChefGhaya Oliveira, NYC;
Outstanding RestaurantTopolobampo, Chicago;
Outstanding RestaurateurStephen Starr, USA(!);
Outstanding Service – Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY;
Outstanding Wine ProgramCanlis, Seattle;
Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional – Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head) Milton, DE;
Rising Star Chef of the YearZachary Engel, NOLA.

Tell the bar: Aviary is kickstarting it’s own cocktail book, and the promo video is pure Grant Achatz (“How can we go beyond just liquid in a glass? You know, that seems so boring…”) and Nick Kokonas, BUT what’s interesting about this is they’re actually collaborating on it with the same superfan who created his own kickstarted book about cooking every dish in the Alinea cookbook.

The Documentary Treatment – Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table” arrived on Netflix yesterday. Trailer here.

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 –

Coughing canary – You can take this with a grain of salt, since the Washington Post article I’m quoting focuses on fast food chains, but if you’ve been dreaming of opening a fast casual money machine, there are some warning signs worth watching here: “2016 was different. Restaurant visits declined slightly, according to NPD. And there are fresh signs of trouble for established restaurants. Based on sales and guest count data from some 22,000 restaurant locations, BlackBox Intelligence says same-store traffic to these places was down 3.6 percent in the first quarter, adding to a streak of declines that began last year. These gloomy traffic figures put into focus one of the industry’s key problems: The supply of restaurants appears to outstrip demand.”

Design Fans: Eater has a bunch of great high-def photos of Atelier Crenn’s remodel in SF, plus some dish pics for good measure. I want those forks.

For Front of House – The NYT features photographer Melissa Breyer, who makes a study of waitresses in their quieter moments. “When they weren’t reciting the nightly specials or balancing dinner for four on one arm, what were they thinking? The photographs here, taken from either side of the restaurant window, ask this question without trying to answer it.”

Marching, so hot right now – And the Washington Post reports a food one may not be far off… “The idea for a march came from José Andrés… In February, Andrés ‘turned to Tom Colicchio and I and said, “We need to have a million people in front of the Capitol,”’ [Andrew] Zimmern said. ‘We had the Million Woman March, we had the Million Man March. How many people could we get out there marching for food? I think José is right.’… Zimmern and Colicchio are specifically speaking up on behalf of the Farm Bill, far-reaching legislation expiring in September 2018 that affects everything from agricultural subsidies to international food aid and is revised and passed about every five years.”

Tell your Somm – The fight over “natural” vs. “spoofulated” is only going to get more heated as winemakers jump on the natural bandwagon (and almost by necessity begin bashing “impure” bottles). In his reading of Rod PhilipsFrench Wine – A History, Andrew Jeffords goes heavy against the “old ways were best” argument: “The book is, thus, a useful corrective those who hanker back to some lost golden age of ‘pure’ artisanal wine production, before ‘the chemical industry’ and ‘technology’ had corrupted the ‘natural goodness’ of fermented grape juice.  That narrative is pure myth.  Every professional French wine taster of past ages would… gleefully exchange their thin, sour, stinking and deviant slop for the dark, scented, pristine, rich and structured French wines you can now buy without difficulty more or less anywhere.” The full article in Decanter is a great primer on the history, and was provocative enough to get Pete Wells and Jon Bonne debating a bit on Twitter this morning.

And finally, sadly, Nostalgia can’t save you – “The oldest bar in Chicago, Schaller’s Pump in Bridgeport, poured its final drink Saturday night. The bar, owned by the same family since 1881, will not open Sunday, according to its owner Kimberly Shinnick. It holds Chicago liquor license No. 6.” Obituary in the Sun Times.

That’s it for today. See you on Friday, the 5th. Hope you got your lime order in…

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or tasteful “wearing only an apron” shots from around the web to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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