The Family Meal – Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Hello Tuesday,

First, a quick note to subscribers new and old: I usually put this at the end, but I’ve been getting a lot more useful tips lately and want to remind everyone that you can get in touch with me directly at My responses have been described as “generally pretty friendly”.

And now, the (industry) news…

That was fast – Per Eater Houston, “After opening Better Luck Tomorrow just weeks ago… chef Justin Yu is already plotting a new restaurant called Theodore Rex… inside the building that once housed Oxheart.”

That was sudden – Chicago’s two-Michelin-starred 42 Grams closed suddenly on Sunday, with chef Jake Bickelhaupt posting a “Dear gastronomes” note on Twitter yesterday. “I will take a short break to gather my thoughts. But, I will come back again and cook. After all, cooking is what makes me happy.”

Next up in L.A. – The L.A. Times has Dan Beran “on the brink of opening his first restaurant, an intimate, 18-seat test-kitchen in what would seem an improbable location — Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade…  The 36-year-old spent 10 years working in Chicago with Grant Achatz and the Alinea Group, first at the three-Michelin starred Alinea and later as the executive chef at Next… Under Beran’s guidance, Jonathan Gold declared Next one of his favorite restaurants in the country.”

MSM – Media companies have opened online stores, started meal kit services, and done “branded content” with food companies, all in an effort to create new (food) revenue streams from their readership. Now, according to the Chicago Tribune’s sources, traditional media companies are about to go brick and mortar: “The media group that publishes Time Out entertainment magazines and websites plans to open a gourmet food hall in Chicago’s Fulton Market district, after the concept drew more than 3 million visitors in Portugal last year.” Bet they get good press…

Side Note: PR Tip for Food Halls – I watched Apple’s developer conference yesterday, and was shocked to see them promoting maps of malls – you remember malls, right? – as a cool new feature of their Maps app. If I were opening a food hall, I’d be emailing Apple to remind them that food halls are actually the hot new thing, and I’d be glad to help them map mine…

Seattle Passes “Soda Tax” – And the Seattle Times says it definitely does apply to syrups. “The council ultimately settled on a rate of 1.75 cents per ounce, which means the tax would be about $1.18 for a 2-liter bottle of soda.” Looks like Seattle restaurants will have to factor in an extra twenty cents for every 12-ounce pour of pop. Non-Seattle restaurants: Get ready, this idea is spreading fast.

Meal Kit Mouthfeel – Vice’s Munchies star Matty Matheson has jumped into the meal kit delivery game by signing on with Chef’d.

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’m starting in Penn Quarter tomorrow night… See you there!

Good Ole Fish Fraud – The Hollywood Reporter did some DNA testing at “eight prominent sushi restaurants in L.A.: Asanebo, Hamasaku, Hide Sushi, Jinpachi, Katsuya, Kiriko, Sugarfish and Sushi Sushi.” The results: 60% of samples showed mislabeled species, and “several of the mislabeled samples [met] the criteria for fish fraud: red snapper at Asanebo that actually was Pacific mackerel, halibut at Katsuya that turned out to be olive flounder, and halibut at Kiriko that DNA testing found to be summer flounder.”

Sugarfish actually amended their menu after a January exposé, but the experts (who talk to reporters who notify customers) are unimpressed: “‘Our snapper is NZ Snapper from New Zealand,’ the menu now reads. ‘Our Hirame is Fluke from the U.S. North Atlantic coast, which in L.A. is commonly called Halibut.’ When shown this text, Demian Willette, the Loyola Marymount researcher who led the Conservation Biology study, actually laughs out loud… ‘Come on: Fluke is not halibut,’ says Willette. ‘That’s like saying you’re selling real crab and then using artificial crab.'”

Tuna Recall – Speaking of seafood, the FDA took the rare step of listing restaurants affected by Hilo Fish Company’s recent recall of potentially Hep A contaminated frozen tuna. Not sure which is the worse word association for the poke places on the list: “hepatitis” or “frozen”?

The Profile Treatement – A little late to this one from Eater, but it is fantastic and well worth the long read: “Meredith Kurtzman gave New York its taste for gelato, but even now, on the verge of retirement, no one knows her name… In his 2012 memoir, Restaurant Man, [Joe] Bastianich extolled the virtues of Kurtzman’s gelato: ‘It’s made by a crusty, West-Village hippy lesbian. She’s probably 60 years old. I don’t like her very much; she hasn’t been nice to me. She’s crotchety. But her ice cream is unbelievable.’”

Speaking of gelato folk – Eater NY scoops (sorry) the news that Daniel Burns is moving on from the Luksus closing to start the creatively named Burns Gelato company.

Tell the SommPromontory profile: “Once upon a time, Bill Harlan raced motorcycles, docked a schooner on seven continents and played professional poker. Now, he buys unwieldy swaths of Napa Valley wilderness… Harlan’s crown is now studded with the jewels of Harlan Estate and Bond wineries, and Meadowood resort with its three-star Michelin restaurant. At 76, he is about to officially unveil his latest — and presumably, last — wine estate, Promontory.”

For design fans – Only five pics in the slideshow, but still worth a look: “After nearly 20 years in its Calle Francisco Petrarca address, [Pujol] – a Mexico City landmark that put elevated Mexican street food on the map and on the speed dial of an international cabal of foodies – recently relocated 11 blocks away to the Polanco neighbourhood, into a 1950s bungalow.”

Last and leastGive the bar the finger: “Gary Regan, the cocktail writer, bartender and bitters maker known as Gaz, once had to stir negronis for 20 people, and to speed things up, he used his finger for the task. The crowd loved it, and it became his signature. Now, Cocktail Kingdom, a bar tool company, sells a 13¾-inch stainless-steel bar spoon made with a cast of Mr. Regan’s index finger at one end and his rooster logo on the other.” Here’s the pic and link to buy it from Florence Fabricant.

You can buy it for me.

I want one.

And on that note, that’s it for today. See you Friday, if I don’t see you tomorrow night in D.C…

PS – Not that big a deal, and kind of D.C. specific, but here’s an article in the Washingtonian that begs the question: why would you ever let your staff talk to the press about their upselling strategies?

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or your favorite fish to call “halibut” to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s