The Family Meal – Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Hello Tuesday,

Good luck to everyone starting off on the 300-mile Chefs Cycle ride today!

If you are getting this via leak, sign up for yourself at

Now let’s get to it…

“OMG” – Via Eater NY: “Keith McNally and his family are closing Schiller’s Liquor Bar in August after 14 years on the Lower East Side…. In an interview in the fall, McNally noted that the restaurant, along with Lucky Strike and Cherche Midi, does not make any money, but he keeps them open because he likes them and their staff.” I don’t know if this is a common tag for them, but if you want to know how the staff at Eater feels about this closing, check out the last three letters on this link:

Also closing in NYC: Isabella’s. Their “landlord chose not to renew” after 30 years on the Upper West Side. And Bread in Little Italy, shuttering after 16 years.

Delivery, but different: Yes, delivery-only giants like Sprig, Munchery, and Maple all failed or are flailing, but rising rents still keep dreamers dreaming. Now, Anthony Strong, former head chef at the Bay Area’s Delfina Group, tells the Chronicle he “hopes that smaller, independent ventures like [his new project] Young Fava, which is translating the mid-priced neighborhood bistro into a coffee-table, paper-plate dining experience at home, will fare better.” Watch this space. If these prove successful, a lot of competition will follow. Have any commercial kitchen space you could rent out?

Documentary Fans – “New Chefs on the Block” will be screened at the AFI Docs festival in D.C. next month. It features Frank Linn working on Frankly…. Pizza, and Aaron Silverman on his way to opening Rose’s Luxury. Bonus: the late, great Michel Richard plays the old chef on the block in the trailer.

Design Fans – MOLD magazine interviews Oliver Haslegrave of Home Studios. Read the words if you want, but an easy scroll through the pics of Gwen in L.A. and Elsa in Brooklyn is rewarding enough. Edison bulbs, shmedison bulbs. Also for your viewing pleasure, Eater has the high-def reveal of L.A.’s massive Rossoblu here.

Japan FansMichelin Hokkaido was released online today, adding two new three-star restaurants in Japan, because Japan is so lacking in three-star restaurants… “The first is Japanese restaurant Hanakouji sawada…. Joining Hanakomichi Ishida and French restaurant Moliere, who retains its three stars, is another new entrant Sushi Miyakawa.”

This Family Meal is brought to you by World Central Kitchen‘s Dine N Dash event in Washington, D.C. On June 7th, join hosts José Andrés, Andrew Zimmern, and Ted Allen for a tour of some of the District’s best restaurants. All proceeds go to support World Central Kitchen’s mission of using smart solutions to hunger and poverty to make sure food is an agent of change around the world. Tickets and more information here. PS – I’ll see you there!

The big chains – NRN’s On the Margins has the first quarter report on big chain dining, complete with winners and losers (“Winner: Tacos… Loser: McDonald’s Competitors”) and lots of ups and downs adding up to a 0.4% drop in same-store sales: “Performance ranged from a decline of 15.8% at Pie Five to an increase of 17.8% at Chipotle. Factor out the unusual nature of Chipotle’s sales of late, and you still have a 26% gap between Pie Five and the next largest, Domino’s.

The next big chainBloomberg reports that fresh off their March IPO, Japan’s Ippudo ramen is “targeting to have 300 locations outside [Japan] by 2025 from its current 65” with a “primary focus” on the US.

Festival CircuitAaron Franklin hosts his first Hot Luck Festival starting Thursday in Austin, and Eater has a full rundown here: “There are big names like Roy Choi, East Coast ramen king Ivan Orkin, and Thai comfort chef Noong Poonsukwattana, and Austin favorites like Bryce Gilmore, Callie Speer, Andrew Wiseheart, and Laura Sawicki.”

At the same time, Vice’s Munchies test kitchen is hosting their “Indie Chefs Week” with loads of familiar faces and up-and-comers from around the country. Quick Sample: Cable Smith (The Royal, DC), Tim Archuleta (Ichi Sushi, SF), Ian Boden (The Shack, Staunton, VA), Gunnar Gíslason (Agern, NY). Full text list: here.

Tell the Somm – “Bill Moving Through Congress Could Lead to Boozier Wine”. Food & Wine reports, “the bill would raise… thresholds on ABV for taxing wine. Currently, the federal tax on wine at 14 percent ABV is significantly lower than the tax on wines with an ABV between 14 and 16 percent. The lower ABV wines are taxed $1.07 per gallon, whereas the higher alcohol wines are taxed at $1.57 per gallon. That difference is large enough that, currently, some wineries find ways to keep their ABVs down to avoid paying these stiffer taxes. Opponents of this provision say eliminating the tax differences will result in wineries selling stronger wine.” Proponents happily concede the point?

Tell the Pitmaster – The Washington Post is out with a fantastic piece on the future of BBQ (read: “upscaling” and urbanizing) and BBQ joints: “In addition to a bocce court, full-size croquet course, two outdoor ping-pong tables and a large firepit, the menu offers a variety of vegetarian options.” Not an easy read for purists, perhaps… Cameos by Laura Loomis (Two Bros., San Antonio), John Lewis (Lewis, Charleston), Elliot Moss (Buxton Hall BBQ, Asheville), and more.

Speaking of Cameos – Roi Choi is rocking a LocoL hat in Katy Perry’s hard-to-watch “Bon Appetit” video. Unfortunately, Rolling Stone can’t tell Roi Choi and David Chang apart. Ugh.

And lastly, a Pasta Safety PSA: “The dough was sticking to the rollers, he said. ‘So, like an idiot, I reached in and tried to force it through the machine. And then I just heard a crunch. Like a handful of popcorn exploded. It was so gross.’” Indeed. Billy Penn has the full article, including a pic of the innocent looking pasta sheeter and its victim, “Le Virtu chef and Brigantessa co-owner Joe Cicala.”

That’s it for today. Stay safe around your machinery, and I’ll see you Friday…

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and send tips and/or festival tickets to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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