Bit of a slow news weekend, so this should be a quick read. Here we go…
“The high-end restaurant industry in the U.S. is now on notice.” – Labor Department officials just killed Blaine Wetzel’s stage program at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island with $150K in fines, and odds are they’re investigating other restaurants as you read this. “In a statement, Jeanette Aranda, director of the Labor Dept’s Wage and Hour Division office in Seattle, said, ‘We hope this case can educate others in the high-end restaurant world that “staging,” while common, is unfair to workers, and it is illegal… We do directed investigations based on issues that we find are common in the industry,’ she said. ‘We don’t actually disclose why we did the investigation’ in any particular case… ‘If we do get a complaint, we will be responding to that,’ she noted.” Full, cautionary tale in the Seattle Times.
Admin Costs – Blue Hill at Stone Barns has joined the great no-tipping experiment by adding a 20% “Administration Fee” to bills. On the menu now: “A note on tipping: we recently did away with the practice of tipping ensuring that our entire team is compensated more equitably. Instead, a 20% administrative fee will be added to your bill. This fee is not a gratuity nor is it distributed to the service staff.”
Some sad news –
In Austin: “One of the early leaders of the Austin culinary scene and a founder of seminal interior Mexican restaurant Fonda San Miguel, chef Miguel Ravago has died, according to friends of the chef. He was 72.” – Full obit in Austin360.
In France: “Leading French chef Alain Senderens, one of the founders of the Nouvelle Cuisine movement, has died aged 77, food critic Gilles Pudlowski said.” His obit in The Guardian is a great, short read: “Senderens delighted in upsetting the world of French gastronomy by pushing sweet-and-sour combinations such as lobster with vanilla, or by digging up ancient recipes such as roast Apicius duck, a dish dating back to Roman times. He once caused uproar by proclaiming that white wine should be served with cheese.” What an epitaph.
Terpenoid Station – The SF Chronicle has a new weed site called Greenstate, and food writer Jonathan Kauffman debuts there this week with a great read and a good primer on “pot as flavor” for chefs and bartenders interested in experimenting with the menu. “Jason Eisner, beverage director at the LA branches of Gracias Madre, says that he chooses aroma extracts from various strains to flavor each of the vegan Mexican bar and restaurant’s CBD cocktails… His favorite extract comes from the pot varietal called OG Kush. ‘It’s pine forward and mixes with amari (Italian digestifs) and Fernet,’ he says. ‘It’s super cool to make reductions with it and cola syrups.’”
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Gone retail in LA – Per Eater, new Silver Lake wine store Psychic Wines has some old industry names behind it: “Zach Jarrett, who is now chef de cuisine at Cosa Buona after years at Alimento and… Quinn Kimsey-White, formerly a wine director at San Francisco’s Ordinare.”
Fast Casual Dreamers – This looks a little bit like a feature length video version of a free business e-book, but if you are one of the every restaurateur seeing dollar signs in your big chain idea, Foodable’s Paul Barron has a new documentary for you.
The Big Mystery – Missed this incredible Chicago story last week, but it’s well worth a read, if only as a good reminder to check the bank accounts your partners have access to on a regular basis. Gotta keep honest folk honest! “Embeya was one of the city’s hottest restaurants. Then it abruptly closed after partners Attila Gyulai and Komal Patel looted its accounts. Now they’ve vanished.” The author is now soliciting tips on Twitter if you know anything…
Last and least – Uh, how about I just put the full URL here, and you can decide what to do: http://nypost.com/2017/06/24/i-lay-on-tables-and-let-people-eat-off-my-body/ BUT, before you click, be warned – there is barley-blurred video of an interview with a naked human tray, and she may make your front of house jealous: “Posing while adorned with food pays between $200 and $400 per two-hour stint.” (Yes, this is in Brooklyn.)
That’s it for today. Short and sweet. See you Friday!