The Family Meal – Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Happy 4th of July!

Coming to you from an undisclosed location on a lake in the Great Middle West, and hoping you have at least a good chunk of the day off to cook (or not cook) and eat with friends and family. If not, I hope the checks and tips are worth the work today.

Quick note: There will be no Family Meal Friday, as I’ll be on the road to upstate NY for some country time.

And now, let’s get to it…

“This is the most important thing written about our profession this decade.” – That’s David McMillan on Twitter describing the Sean Brockprofile that everyone is talking about. First line: “Sean Brock went to rehab.” It took an “old-fashioned intervention” and six weeks at The Meadows rehab center in Sedona, but Brock, Mr. Bourbon, is sober. “Today, his crazy giggle is back, and he is about 20 pounds lighter.”

Read the article. There is a lot to contemplate and celebrate in there, and I won’t spoil all the details here. BUT I do think one underplayed section is the brief mention of his friends worrying that talking so much about the recovery could jeopardize it. Having your recently achieved sobriety celebrated in the New York Times is probably a bit disorienting (even if you invite the coverage), and I’m nervous that people will put too much pressure on the chef to be a hero for their own needs.

If you or someone you know needs help, the resources page at is a good place to find it.

ATTN: Undiscovered Chicago – You might have run a critical darling of a restaurant and never known it. Former Tribune critic Kevin Pang wrote this Twitter thread on Sunday: “Confession: When I was a critic there were 2 restaurants in Chicago so good I kept to myself & never wrote about. Is this against some kind of code? Giving the restaurant publicity would overrun staff. I wanted to keep it to ourselves. On the other hand, it’d be a business boost, but that’s not my job.” Feel free to reply to him with your thoughts…

Don’t call it a bubble – The Washington Post’s Maura Judkis is out with a very smart take on everyone’s greatest fear. “As restaurants opened, other restaurants closed. This has always been true. But because more were opening, more were closing, and this began to look very alarming to chefs and the aforementioned publications, which began to call it a bubble. Except if any of them had talked to an economist, a different picture might have emerged.” Complete with numbers and analysis (and of course a pic of “millennials” in line outside Bad Saint). Well worth your time.

For Design Fans – Here’s Eater’s spread of pics from The Office, the “speakeasy” half of Alinea Group’s NYC invasion (the other half being The Aviary). According to Grant Achatz, “The Aviary is parallel to Alinea in its progressive nature… Whereas The Office is old-school luxury. There’s no pyrotechnics, no progressive technique, no serviceware uniquely created for The Office. It’s a look back in time, culinarily speaking, emphasizing luxury ingredients. The juxtaposition of the two helps define them both.”

I see a typewriter on top of an old trunk.

This Family Meal is brought to you by Devoured, a new food recycling service supporting restaurants and foodservice businesses. Devoured provides food waste composting services, supports food donation program implementation, and helps restaurants with their waste and recycling needs. Be a part of the national food waste conversation. Visit Devoured on twitter to follow their new graphic adventure (@_Devoured_).

For the bar – Beware the mix. From the Hindustan Times in Delhi, it’s a classic tale of liquid nitrogen cocktails: Man drinks “smoking” drink. Feels discomfort. Bartender hands him another one. Man’s stomach ends up “open like a book.”

Also for the barHumphrey Smith, the media-shy, eccentric, 72 year-old owner of the Samuel Smith brewery and bar empire has a profile of sorts in The Guardian this week. It centers around his banning swearing in the 300 or so pubs he owns, and dressing up “as a tramp” to go undercover and enforce the rules…

Top Job – Not sure if they’ve already got someone, but according to EaterNY, “Simon Kim is temporarily closing Michelin-starred Piora, the restaurant he opened with Chris Cipollone, who is leaving New York to work on the West Coast… The plan is to hire a new head chef for Piora and to revamp the menu for a late-summer reopening.”

Last and Least – In the New Yorker (where else?), as far as I can tell, some artists convinced chefs Corey Lee, Daniel Patterson, and David Kinch, to produce a vegan, local, organic meal centered around tableware designed to “frustrate and amuse.” You will definitely be frustrated watching it. You will also definitely be amused: “I think the pieces, they are very challenging. They really for me enhance this idea of community, to an extreme we never had. There was also a spoon that looked from the other side like a butt.”

And that’s it for today. A very Happy Fourth to you and yours! And a last reminder that we’re taking Friday off, and will be back a week from today for next Family Meal. See you then!

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or pics of erotic cutlery to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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