The Family Meal – Friday, May 5th, 2017

Hello, Friday,

It is the fifth of May, and a Friday. If you work at a Mexican restaurant, I hope the propinas outweigh the pain…

Now this:

Happy 112th Birthday to James Beard, the man who ate too much!” from your soon-to-be biographer, John Birdsall, on Twitter. (Followed very quickly by a “Happy 114th” correction… He’s a biographer, not a calculator!)

That… feeling –  “Exclusive: Ayesha Curry, Michael Mina to open BBQ restaurant in sinking tower.” Her brick & mortar International Smoke will replace Mina’s RN74 in the architecturally challenged Millennium Tower later this year according to the SF Business Times.

Opening Night, last night The Four Seasons officially opened as The Grill in NYC, and the space still draws quite the crowd: “Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld, George Stephanopoulos, Matthew Broderick (sans Sarah Jessica Parker), and Seth Meyers were all spotted at the restaurant on Thursday… Industry folk in attendance included David Chang, Daniel Boulud, restaurateur Drew Nieporent, Bloomberg writer Kate Krader, cocktail bartender Kevin Denton, chef John Capon, and Thomas Carter of Estela and Cafe Altro Paradiso…. Major Food Group partners Rich TorrisiJeff Zalaznick, and Mario Carbone were also all on hand, as was Aby Rosen, the landlord of the Seagram Building.” Eater has a rundown of the night, complete with menu, pics, and (guest) receipts, here.

The ListsFood & Wine is out with its Best Ofs. Restaurants of the Year nods go to: Olmstead (Brooklyn), June’s All Day (Austin), Roister (Chicago), Tartine Manufactory (SF), Le Coucou (Manhattan), Turkey and the Wolf (NOLA), Here’s Looking at You (LA), Tusk (Portland, OR), Rooster Soup Co. (Philly), Waypoint (Cambridge, MA).

The Profile Treatment – Thomas Keller gets a sort of “generational passing of the baton” piece in the NYT this week. If you read it, I recommend clicking over to the “reader’s picks” comments, which include a lot of, uh, differing views on the man and his legacy. Even his old bosses get in on the act. Here’s one from David Liederman: “Keller worked for me for a year at Chez Louis in Manhattan after he busted out of Rakel and didn’t have enough money to pay his rent. I liked Tom and did him a favor by hiring him. He needed a break when he was down and I helped him out. Interesting that in the remake of the cult of Tom Keller, he always forgets to mention his time at Chez Louis. In fact the one time a reporter pressed him on this fact he corrected his memory and said his experience at Chez Louis was ‘similar to street walking.’ I guess no good deed goes unpunished.”

That sweet cookbook $$$ – Dreaming of sliding into chef retirement, just penning the occasional recipe collection and cashing fat publisher checks? Brooks Headley of Superiority Burger has some cold water for you: “Imagine someone saying, in the most dramatic voice possible, ‘WE ARE GOING TO GIVE YOU $50,000 TO WRITE A COOKBOOK.’ Whoa… sounds like a lot of money, right? Like, more money than your average line cook has ever seen. But then you take into consideration that $20K goes to the (very deserving and totally professional) photographer, $12K to the designer (also no beef here), and as the checks trickle in, your agent gets 15 percent off the top of each driblet. And yeah, you didn’t take into consideration the taxes? Oh no. I don’t want to do the math here.” Whole article in Bon Appétit is a first person account of the cookbook writing struggle, and well worth a read.

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 –

Tell the Bar Lagunitas sold out to Heineken yesterday. Or, as founder Tony Magee put it in his announcement on Tumblr: “Today we’re announcing our decision to connect Lagunitas completely with Heineken. Some who don’t fully understand it all may say it is selling out. Truth is that we… are now ‘buying in’… You hafta imagine Jonah standing on the gunnel of the storm-tossed ship and intentionally leaping into the mouth of the whale to embrace the transformation and emerge to become his own destiny.” You also have to imagine the inside of that whale is full of cash in fancy briefcases that Jonah is welcome to take with him when he leaves. I do not blame Jonah.

The mind of a critic – Note well, NYC (and beyond), Pete Wells likes being treated like a “guest,” even though he knows you really just want his money (and stars): “Another restaurant might try to impress diners by suggesting an esoteric sweet wine whose ‘flavor profile’ supposedly complements the coffee in the dessert but whose real point is to show you how smart the sommelier is. The servers at Union Square Café [who suggested this critic might like a glass of milk with dessert] … want you to be happy. Even for a milk-hating curmudgeon like me, this is hard to resist, and I walked out after all three of my meals there in a better mood than when I’d walked in.” The full debrief of his USC review is here.

Tell the Somm – “Terroir and science are not mutually exclusive,” so sayeth Josh Decolongon, the sommelier working with Ava Winery to create “synthetic wines” out of a warehouse in SF’s Dogpatch neighborhood. The Chronicle sums up the recipe: “You might… view them as flavored vodka: pure ethanol, diluted to wine’s alcohol volume, seasoned with amino acids and chemicals… Voila: wine.” Voila: $2.7M in seed funding.

Last and least – I leave you today with two things: First, the title of an article in the New Yorker: “THE POODLE WHO HOSTS A JAPANESE COOKING SHOW FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE”. Second, the link to said article. Godspeed.

That’s it for today. Buena suerte tonight!

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or seed funding for my new synthetic wine company, MadDog2020 Inc., to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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