The Family Meal – Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Hello Tuesday,

Quick note: if you’re getting this as a forward, make sure to sign up for yourself at It’s fast, casual, and designed for delivery.

And now, the (industry) news…

Bon Appétit’s Top 10 New Restaurants 2017 list is out and here they are. 1- Turkey and the Wolf (New Orleans); 2- Elske (Chicago); 3- Mister Jiu’s (SF); 4- Palizzi (Philadelphia); 5- Hart’s (NYC); 6- Giant (Chicago); 7- Spring(Marietta, GA); 8- Kemuri Tatsu-Ya (Austin); 9- Nixta (STL); 10- Brewery Bhavana (Raleigh). Congrats all, and good luck to the PR folk trying to squeeze more coverage out of these wins!

For FOH – Highly recommend forwarding this one to your whole team: Top Eater critic Bill Addison’s take on how to establish genuine rapport between server and diner when things go wrong. He cites examples of when it works (storms at NoMa Tulum), and when it needs work (sweltering rooftop conditions at Single Thread), and the entire article makes for a great read / training doc to help staff feel more comfortable handling inevitable missteps: “If the underlying motto of luxe hospitality has always been ‘let us take care of you,’ the finest practitioners now convey an additional message: ‘We’re in it together.’ That attitude isn’t meant to let service pros shirk their responsibilities. Instead it acknowledges the improvisational nature of genuine interaction. Even in the best restaurants, things go wrong. Platters topple. Glasses break. Preferences are forgotten. Words are misunderstood. The finest hospitality pros I’ve seen in action understand that they can’t control what they can’t control; they can only control their reaction. And so they choose to react with sincerity, imagination, and diffusing levity.”

Also from a critic… That Fast Casual Judgement – Two key takeaways from the Pete Wells review of Made Nice in the NYT this week: 1) If you’re chasing fast casual money on the back of your high-end concepts, you’re asking for the high-end star system: “Nobody should be surprised when a stripped-down dish that can be ready in five minutes and costs, on average, about $14 isn’t as wonderful as one that was fluffed to greatness for its role in a $295 tasting menu. It’s not a fair fight, yet it’s one that [Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara] have invited by trying to link their fast-casual business with their other restaurants.” And 2) Better start flagging delivery addresses on your critic boards just in case: “To test it out, I ate one of my three Made Nice meals at The New York Times Building.”

Wannabe Top Chef Teamsters Acquitted – Four Boston union men have been found not guilty of attempting to extort jobs out of the production. The jury trial stemmed from alleged incidents described in Deadline: “When Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi tried to cross their picket line, several Teamsters rushed her minivan, and according to testimony during the trial, one of the Teamsters leaned into her passenger-side window ‘so close she could smell him’ and threatened to ‘smash her pretty face in.’ Lakshmi testified that she was terrified and thought he was going to punch her. The Teamsters kept at it for hours, showering cast and crew with racist, sexist and homophobic slurs, and slashing the tires on nine production vehicles.”

P.S. Ouch – There were actually five men charged in this case, but only one plead guilty, apologized, and asked for forgiveness, even though prosecutors agreed he played a lesser role. He was sentenced to 6 months house arrestand two years probation, plus a $10k fine and $24k restitution… At least he has his honor?

This Family Meal is brought to you by Chefs for Equality, the premier event benefiting Human Rights Campaign and their work to to end discrimination against LGBTQ people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. Chefs Ed LeeJeremiah LanghorneAmy BrandweinPatrick O’ConnellCindy Wolf, and many, many more will join select guests at Union Market in Washington, D.C. for a spectacular night of food, cocktails, auctions, and music. Chefs and industry friends looking to get involved can get in touch here. For tickets and more information, check out

Empire – Per EaterNYMajor Food Group “signed a partnership with the Pod Hotels, the company with micro-rooms that has three other locations in New York City. The latest outpost is a 28-story building at 400 West 42nd Street near Ninth Avenue, the largest Pod hotel yet.” Looks like a tiki-bar and a new location of their Parm concept, coming this fall. Best/worst detail: “This announcement also comes shortly after the group confirmed they will close the Williamsburg location of Parm, which had a three year build-out and a five month lifespan.”

Design Fans – Here’s the photo spread from Michael Voltaggio’s ink.well in West Hollywood. It’s pretty damn simple, with one very cozy booth, and an all-white living room featuring “natural art” (my new term for random chunks of gnarled wood).

Boxing Day – A friendly reminder for the bar folk among you that the broadcasters are watching you, and will sue you if you don’t pay the correct fees for Mayweather v. McGregor in advance. From a story in Maryland earlier this year: “Court filings submitted by J&J Sports Productions show the company deploys investigators who visit bars and restaurants during fight nights. Those investigators submit affidavits, and in some cases undercover videos, as evidence that local restaurants broadcast pay-per-view events without paying the necessary fees.”

Last and least – You know how you’ve always wanted to * kisses fingers like a chef * on social media? Now there’s an app for that in the app store. The emojis aren’t perfect (I could do without the hearts), but beggars can’t be choosers. Kisses fingers half-heartedly.

Peter Falk voice: Oh, just one more thing. If you’re looking to poke a finger in the eyes of racists this week (and who isn’t?), may I suggest celebrating Nearest Green, “the Tennessee slave who taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey” at your bar? The NYT has a piece out today on the woman trying to chronicle and publicize his story, and it has me thinking “I’ll have a Nearest Green” sounds like a solid drink order…

And that’s that. If someone does have a drink by that name, please send me the recipe. Otherwise, I’ll see you Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or anti-Nazi drink ideas to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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