The Family Meal – Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Hello Tuesday,

Not trying to get political, but if you had Monday off and got to grilling, I hope you did better than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose “Grilling out!!!” kebab pic on Twitter was brutally skewered (pun trademark) in the comments. Sample: “Scott, do you somehow hate flavor even more than you hate unions?”

And now, the (industry) news…

Calorie Counters – Wait, sorry, still political…  Per Politico: “President Donald Trump’s push to reduce the government burden on business is instead causing chaos in the food industry after he suddenly yanked a rule requiring calories to be posted on menus nationwide.” (Changing regulations are always a hassle, but “chaos” as defined by the Politico lunch crowd is not exactly an industry-killer: “At one Shake Shack in Virginia, calories were posted on a menu outside the store, but there were no calories listed on the main menu inside.” CHAOS!)

The Suits – A line cook at Corey Lee’s Monsieur Benjamin alleges her supervisor sexually harassed her at work “for nearly a year, until [she] complained to chef Jason Berthold on Oct. 4, who terminated [the supervisor] that same day.” Despite the quick firing, the cook says everyone in the kitchen knew what was going on and “when she complained, she was subjected to further humiliation and retaliation by the other chefs for doing so.”

Attn: food writersFood52 is hiring a new Editor in Chief…

Another one bites the dust – Delivery-only Sprig Inc. closed up shop last week, after a little over four years of serious spending to try to make the model work. As Eater notes: “News of the closure is further evidence that on-demand food delivery is a tough business — in Sprig’s case, despite nearly $57 million in funding. Founded in 2013, by 2015, Sprig had raised $45 million at a $110 million valuation.”

The Aviary Cocktail Book kickstarter ends today, and as of writing it looks set to crack $400k – just a tiny bit over their $50k goal. Congrats especially to Allen and Sarah Hemberger, the Alinea superfans who collaborated with Achatz and Kokonas on the book.

Friedman got the gig at Chicago’s “Lakefront” – “Last summer, Lakefront Hospitality, operators of Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, won a bid to spearhead the renovation of the Theater on the Lake. One year and $5.9 million later, the Theater is on the cusp of reopening for year-round performances, events, a comprehensive food program run by (drumroll, please) Cleetus Friedman, of City Provisions and Fountainhead fame.” Chicago Magazine has the details here.

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!

Tell the Somm? The local paper reports the old Fetzer family estate in Mendocino County is going cash crop: “A Venezuelan entrepreneur with Silicon Valley connections and deep-pocket investors bought the property earlier this year to build a farm-to-table marijuana empire — part production hub and part cannabis tourism destination.” Shocking, man.

Cultural appropriation privilege – If you’ve been following the Kooks Burritos debate and the “cultural appropriation” food fight as a whole, I highly recommend this post by Gustavo Arellano, the “Ask a Mexican” columnist for OC Weekly, who thinks talk of Mexicans as victims is just another way to infantilize and stereotype them further: “What these culture warriors who proclaim to defend Mexicans don’t realize is that we’re talking about the food industry, one of the most rapacious businesses ever created. It’s the human condition at its most Darwinian, where EVERYONE rips EVERYONE off. The only limit to an entrepreneur’s chicanery isn’t resources, race, or class status, but how fast can you rip someone off, how smart you can be to spot trends years before anyone else, and how much money you can make before you have to rip off another idea again. And no one rips off food like Mexicans.”

Losing your lunch – You need a subscription to read the whole thing (or you can find it free on Apple news on your iPhone), but this WSJ article’s second sentence sums things up nicely / sadly, “Americans made 433 million fewer trips to restaurants at lunchtime last year, resulting in roughly $3.2 billion in lost business…” The trend lines don’t point to the pendulum swinging back anytime soon either. Ugh.

Last and Least – A tale of two restroom signs:

First, Clever Blend café in Park Slope thought it would be funny to post a men’s / women’s sign that depicted the male stick figure peeping over the wall at the female stick figure. It went as expected, with the owner’s angry non-apology going full middle school logic by citing the Amazon categorizing it as “a funny sign,” so “why don’t you curse at Jeff Bezos now?”

Second, in D.C., Kyle Bailey is two days away from opening the highly-anticipated Salt Line restaurant, and tried to set the tone with this “Employees must carve Slayer into forearm before returning to work” placard. Says the chef, “DoH didn’t think my sign was very funny.”

That’s it for today. Slow holiday news weekend. Turns out food journalists get Memorial Day off? Back Friday with much, much more…

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or links to your $400k Kickstarter to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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