The Family Meal – Friday, September 1st, 2017

Hello September,

Hello again, Houston. As you’ve probably seen, José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen chef network – including Victor Albisu and Faiz Ally of Del Campo, and Charisse Dickens from Think Food Group’s R&D kitchen – swooped in as quick as they could and started recruiting chefs to join them in leading teams of volunteers cooking for more than 5,000 at the GRB Convention Center. They absolutely deserve all the great PR they are getting, but for the Family Meal crowd, they also wanted to make sure to give a “huge shoutout to the suppliers who are making these efforts happen including Perdue Chicken (1M lbs of poultry!), Cuisine Solutions (40,000 lbs of prepared food), Ethnica FoodsRiviana Foods, and Tupelo Honey Cafe.”

NB: The team tells me they’re putting a pause on recruitment after 125 chefs signed up almost as soon as the site went live, but you can still donate directly to their efforts here.

There are, of course, industry fundraisers going on across the country. A few helpful links here: Washington, D.C. has a crowdrise page to help restaurants get involved, a lot of NYC-area restaurants are giving to Team Rubicon (who they remember well from Sandy days), and Bon Appétit has a national listgoing which you may be able to get in on (“if you’re hosting a fundraiser you’d like us to add, please email:”).

Finally on Houston: A big shout out to Houston! The heaviest lifting is obviously being done by locals, including workers at El Bolillo Bakery, who, trapped in the shop by floodwaters, decided to keep on baking their way through two tons of product to donate to those in need.

The Review – Jonathon Gold‘s take on Vespertine is out this morning, and well worth a read. “It’s not dinner; it’s Gesamtkunstwerk.” (Honestly, there are so many good lines it is impossible to choose one that does the full review justice. You have to read the whole thing.)

Binders full (around here somewhere)… The Restaurant at Medowoodreleased the names for its 12 days of Christmas lineup, and they all have one thing in common… Full list is in the Chronicle, plus this: “Worth noting: There are seven countries represented in this year’s series — but it is devoid of female executive chef participants.”

The Profile Treatment – Günter Seeger gets a gushing longform look in Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy this week, courtesy of former Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic John Kessler. “After twenty years of groking Günter Seeger’s food, I’m here to tell you he’s the best cook I have ever known. He finds the most expressive ingredients of the growing moment and presents them without an iota of pretension. He cuts right to the essence of things. To me, he is Oracle in The Matrix.”

The Hotel Gigs – In Chicago, Moosah Reaume will replace Rebecca LeMalfa(a former Top Chef contestant) at the Virgin Hotel’s Commons Club. And in L.A., Casey Lane has the top job at “Viale dei Romani, an Italian newcomer landing at the new Kimpton La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood later this year.”

That NYC Food Hall $$$ – “Celeb chef Todd English is eyeing a newly vacant restaurant on Seventh Avenue for his next food hall. English… hopes to bring his latest venture to the space at 191 Seventh Ave., between West 21st and 22nd streets, formerly home to the controversial restaurant Il Bastardo.” Details in DNAinfo.

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:

The (re)open – Via EaterSFAfter almost two years of darkness, chef Mourad Lahlou will reopen the doors to his restaurant in the Outer Richmond. But this time, it won’t be Aziza.” He’s rebranding as Amara and “unearthing the influences of the Moors on Mexican cuisine.”

Bar Moves – “Jay Schroeder, the architect behind Mezcaleria Las Flores  has joined the team at Quiote as the Logan Square [Chicago] restaurant’s new beverage director.”

Pizza South – Looks like Ashley Christensen is opening up a “Poolside Pie” pizzeria in Raleigh, and Hillary Dixler spies a trend: “Christensen is one of a few chefs in the South opening a pizzeria right now. A Chef’s Life star Vivian Howard will debut Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria this fall (hopefully November) in Wilmington, NC. Serial restaurateur Brooks Reitz will open a red-sauce-plus-pizza joint in Charleston called Melfi’s later this year as well.”

For Design Fans – The new Broken Shaker rooftop bar in DTLA looks… millennial?

For the Bar – Thelonious Monk Jr. is suing North Coast Brewing for merchandising money. He says that while he agreed to let the brewery use his father’s likeness for Brother Thelonious beer, that agreement did not include the t-shirts, mugs, etc. that they are selling without permission. (In this writer’s humble opinion, punitive damages should be made in the form of reduced prices for the public. Those 4-packs are $$$!)

Free Startup Idea – Look at the picture in this Reuters article. See the problem? Solve the problem. BILLIONS. (I don’t do clickbait, so: it’s a pic of a desk full of tablets taking orders from multiple third-party delivery services. Brutal.)

Free Movie Idea (for the Somm) – “Thieves stole wine reportedly worth more than €250,000 (£230,000) after burrowing into a private cellar from the catacombs 20 metres below Paris. Police say more than 300 bottles of vintage wine were carried out through the underground network, which comprises more than 150 miles (250km) of tunnels running beneath the city.” Full story in The Guardian.

Last and least: Yelp Bots – Per NY Post: “Researchers at the University of Chicago have trained a neural network, or artificial intelligence system, to write fake reviews on Yelp.” Thanks, researchers. The article has a little quiz where you can try to tell what’s real and what isn’t. Not to rain on UC’s AI parade, but the examples say less about how good the bots are, and more about the utter mediocrity of human Yelp reviews…

And that’s it for today. I hope the weekend is either very relaxing or very lucrative, depending on your work schedule. Oh, and Eid Mubarak if you’re celebrating!

See you Tuesday for next Family Meal.

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