The Family Meal – Friday, June 9th, 2017

Hello Friday,

Sending some good thoughts to restaurants trying to make news this week…

Here’s what I saw when I wasn’t seeing Comey:

OK, just a touch of Comey: I seriously doubted enough people would be willing and able to head to bars to watch a Thursday morning congressional hearing, but there were 9AM lines in Washington D.C., and packed, hushed pubs in Brooklyn. Congrats to the visionaries among you who did a little democracy profiteering yesterday!

Lists I like: Eater’s most-anticipated-of-the-summer lists are out in New York (including the Pasta Flyer fast casual concept from Mark Ladner), and Chicago (with a shout out to Split-Rail, also featured in the Design Fans paragraph below), and I’m sure more will trickle in throughout the day. Last minute PR push?

The Suits – The “most booked restaurant in America” Founding Farmers and its offshoots Farmers Fishers Bakers and Farmers & Distillers are being sued for wage theft in what the plaintiffs’ lawyers hope could turn into a class action involving thousands of current and former employees. A recent Family Meal saw Dan Barber and Blue Hill settling one of these for $2M, not to mention legal expenses. Of note for those of you with multiple locations, “plaintiffs allege that they would work at two or more locations during a week, clocking in more than 40 hours, but that those hours were considered individual to each restaurant, not collective to each employee.” Full story in the Washington Post. Read up so you don’t have to lawyer up.

The Hack – Gordon Ramsay’s estranged father-in-law is going to jail for 6 months for hacking Ramsay’s company network after being fired as CEO. In the most British reaction ever to getting caught, the Guardian reports, “After their actions were discovered, Hutcheson Sr. told his son Chris in an email: ‘Guess we have been rumbled. Bit late though.’”

The Inner SanctumAndrew Zimmern posted a little Instagram video of the Think Food Group offices when he was in D.C. for a charity event with Jose Andres and Ted Allen. If you’re wondering what the “back office” will look like when you finally get your empire going, here’s the space.

Pop-up Permanence – In SF, former Atelier Crenn chef de cuisine Rodney Wages is settling in for the long haul with his RTB Fillmore concept. Per Eater SF, “Part of that transformation is a partnership between Wages and Matthew Mako, former director of hospitality at Saison, who will lead the front of the house. The two met during a mutual stint at Benu years ago, where they hit it off and hatched a plan to one day start something together.”

This Family Meal is brought to you by Add Passion and Stir: Big Chefs, Big Ideas, a weekly podcast about inspirational people who are changing the world. In each episode, Billy Shore, the creator of the No Kid Hungry Campaign (, brings together prominent change-makers and guests from the culinary world to discuss how food is at the intersection of social transformation. 

Guests on the podcast include James Beard Award-winning chefs who have amassed a host of Michelin Stars, joined by leaders in the public and private sectors who are making profound positive changes in the world: Chef José Andrés, U.N. Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin, Shake Shack CEO Danny Meyer, Chef Traci Des Jardins, and many more.  Listen, Subscribe, Rate, and Review:

Design Fans – A few photo spreads for you: 1) The recently opened Jean-Georges at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills – “A decidedly opulent affair” (complete with the Roger Federer-esque JG logo at bottom). 2) Zoe Schor’s about-to-open Split-Rail in Chicago – that banquette backing! 3) See next paragraph…

Crazy like a space fox? I can’t tell if this is art / PR genius, or the kind of thing that will crash and burn and have all of his investors suddenly realize their Spaceman Spiff is actually just an imaginative boy in his PJs, but I have to say, at this point I’m pretty sure I’m rooting for Jordan Kahn and his team at Vespertine. It takes a lot of guts to go full concept, and this Marian Bull GQ interview / photo spread feels like KISS putting on makeup with serious confidence: “The building, according to Kahn’s constructed mythology, ‘is a machine artifact from an extraterrestrial planet that was left here like a billion years ago by a species that were moon worshippers.’ The labels on your fancy wine glasses will be etched off, because ‘those are all markers that remind people that they’re still on Earth.’ Vespertine has a feminine energy, and the general manager has her own unique dress and a custom-made ceramic cuff for her arm, which Kahn gushes over. He tells me the building ‘has its own gravity.’”

Here Comes Blue Bottle – After being blocked from expanding in its own hometown for being too much of a chain, the SF coffee star is heading east according to SFGate. “New York City will host six new locations… [and] two cafes each will open in Boston, Washington D.C., and Miami.”

“Do chefs really need another culinary magazine?” Former COI pastry chef Nick Muncy answers his own question with: “Clearly, yes.” Hence the release of the first issue of minimalist food mag Toothache, “a culinary magazine, straight from the source. Made for chefs, by chefs. No editors, executives, or BS. Issue 01 includes over 80 recipes from 9 award winning chefs: Carrie and Rupert Blease (Lord Stanley), Val Cantu (Californios), Melissa Coppel (Atelier Melissa Coppel), Shawn Gawle (Quince), Nick Muncy (Toothache), Roy Shvartzapel (From Roy), Gabriele Riva (Cacao Barry Ambassador), Matt Tinder (Saboteur Bakery).”

Last and Art – The New Yorker reviews new coffee table book “Feast for the eyes: The Story of Food in Photography”, and the attached slideshow is part 70s dinner party, part cookbooks of the 40s and 50s, and part… Meat Joy. “A still from ‘Meat Joy,’ the film by Carolee Schneemann, from 1964, gleefully captures the beginnings of a decades-long feminist struggle to flout conventional views of women as kitchen-keepers; the image, which shows its subjects rolling around on the floor with raw chickens and fish, makes perfectly clear that these women in their prime would rather make art than cook for any man or child waiting at the table.”

And that’s it for today. If your establishment flies a rainbow flag, I hope you have a meaningful, money-full weekend! I’m off to Portland, Maine to visit friends, so any readers up there with recommendations, please send them my way. Otherwise I’ll see you back here Tuesday for another Family Meal!

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or your own favorite Meat Joy stills to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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