The Family Meal – Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Hello Friday,

First, a quick reminder that if you’re getting this as a forward, you can (and should) sign up for yourself at

Second, let’s get to it…

Shaya out – Some big moves afoot in New Orleans. Per, “On Tuesday, in light of news that [John Besh] and [Alon Shaya] are parting ways, a Besh Restaurant Group spokesperson said that chefs at the three restaurants Besh owns with chef Shaya — DomenicaPizza Domenicaand Shaya — have been promoted. Zachary Engel is now executive chef of Shaya, and Michael Wilson is executive chef of Domenica and Pizza Domenica. Alon Shaya had the title of executive chef of all three restaurants, with Engel and Wilson serving as chefs de cuisine.”

AirBnB has reservations – “Last year, Airbnb invested $13 million in restaurant-booking app maker Resy. On Wednesday, Resy will start handling reservations for Airbnb users through a tab called ‘Restaurants’ in Airbnb’s apps and website. Airbnb declined to disclose its ownership stake in Resy or say if it has plans to buy the company outright.” Details in Bloomberg. Seems like some enterprising restaurants should find ways to get their names into nearby AirBnB listings… “My apartment offers wifi, a fancy Japanese toilet, and is right down the street from one of the best restaurants in town: YOUR PLACE HERE.”

Shanghai stars – The 2018 Michelin Guide to Shanghai is out. “Two restaurants in the 2018 guide have three Michelin stars. Ultraviolet, the multi-sensory, 10-seat restaurant from French chef Paul Pairet, joins T’ang Court in that top tier… There are now six Shanghai restaurants with two stars and 22 with one Michelin star.” Five new one-star entries include: Bo ShanghaiYong FuWujie (The Bund)Jean-Georges, and Taian Table. Quote is from Eater. Full listing here.

And speaking of Michelin – Chef Sébastien Bras released a statement recently asking to be left out of France’s 2018 guide. NPR reports, “Bras said that like others in the culinary world, he had in the corner of his mind the 2003 suicide of Bernard Loiseau, a legendary French three-star chef. (‘But I do not have that mindset,’ said Bras.)” Obviously, they’re not going to leave him out, so here’s hoping his public disavowal is enough to ease his mind.

(Side note: Food puns in restaurant articles are rarely in good taste (see?) but they are especially bad when following talk of serious issues like suicide, as in the above article’s pressure cooker / sous vide crack.)

The Critics – To circulate amongst staff: Here’s NYT critic Pete Wellsdiscussing the current state of reviewing, including this nugget on his use of modern photographic memory: “Photography is the first stage of my note-taking now. After I get home I reconstruct my impressions of the meal, starting with my pictures of my food and the menu.” #hesgonnabeaninstastarwhenheleavesthetimes

The Cabbage Patch (sorry) – Via Eater Chicago: “Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has named founder Rich Melman’s son — R.J. Melman — as the new president of Chicago’s largest restaurant group.”

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:

Uber London goes down – A few weeks ago, Washington City Paper had a smart take on how the growth of Uber / Lyft has allowed lots of new restaurants to open up in cool off-public-transit corners of the city. Now, Uber London just lost its operating license. They can keep driving while the decision is appealed, but… Danger, Will Robinson.

Meal-kit moves – Big grocery chain Albertsons has taken control of Plated for an estimated $200M or more. Re what that means for competitors, Plated investor (and Shark Tank host) Kevin O’Leary told CNBC: “If I were Blue Apron, I would feel naked… I would feel that I need a partner with stores and I need it now because this is all about getting customers into the cycle of subscriptions.”

Pick-up artist – Meal subscription outfit MealPal has raised another $20M in funding to expand its services in the US and beyond. Details in TechCrunch. Fast casual folks, be prepared for the sales rep call: “For a fixed fee — $6.49 or $6.99 for dinner in the U.S.; $5.99 or $6.39 for lunch; £4.50 or £4.99 in the U.K. all based on frequency of use — consumers get a selection of restaurants from which to order take-out. Each restaurant offers one dish only. You select what you’d like to eat, and a time when you will go by to pick up your food — with no delivery option…. MealPal pays a flat fee to restaurants for each meal that is prepared and ordered.”

Product placement – Those of you with dreams of placing your own branded pasta sauce on Whole Foods shelves may need to fly to Austin for the Shark Tank experience now. Under Amazon’s new ownership, “Whole Foods is centralizing much of its decision-making regarding the assortment of products across the country. Instead of allowing brands to frequently pitch their products to individual stores or regions, Whole Foods executives in its Austin, Texas headquarters will choose a higher percentage of the items stores carry.” Details here.

Some sad news – From the SF Chronicle: “Well-known San Francisco grocer Konstantinos “Gus” Vardakastanis was killed early Friday when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing a street in the city’s Bayview neighborhood, authorities said. The 57-year-old Vardakastanis, co-owner of Haight Street Market and Noriega Produce, died at the scene of the collision, according to the San Francisco medical examiner.”

Last and least – There’s a new Christopher Guest (Best in ShowThis Is Spinal TapWaiting for Guffman) –esque mockumentary coming for the baking crowd. Melissa McCarthy stars in Cook Off! (Exclamation point included in the title, and possibly foreshadowing a lack of subtlety and authenticity that made the Guest flicks so genuinely hilarious, but we shall see…) Trailer here.

And for the literary baking crowd, there’s a new Bay Area-based novel out called Sourdough. I already love the premise: “Clary’s day job sees her sipping a Soylent-like food substitute called Slurry and building robotic arms that could automate kitchens. But a mysterious sourdough starter she’s given by two brothers from her favorite Clement Street restaurant changes her life’s course.” Write-up in Eater SF.

And that’s it for today. Good luck out there this weekend, and I’ll see you Tuesday for next Family Meal.

Oh, and one very frivolous request: I can’t find any video or pictures of Thomas Keller actually throwing out the first pitch at the Giants game on Tuesday night. There is absolutely no reason why I should want to see this, but I do. Anyone have evidence?

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or vids of epic Guidara v Humm flag football matches from EMP Summer House to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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