The Family Meal – Friday, September 29th, 2017

Hello Friday,

First, did you know that Food & Wine magazine started out as a 1978 special bonus section in Playboy? I did not. That’s what I learned when Hugh Hefnerdied Wednesday.

If Howard Stern had a hand in founding Bon Appétit, please let me know.

And on that note: Jezebel has an article out this week on appearance-based discrimination in restaurant employment (“is she cute?”), and its fairly comprehensive history of the big legal cases on the issue almost reads like a list of do’s and don’ts. Sample lesson: Women who signed up to work as Borgata Babes at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City lost a lawsuit in part because the casino was so up front about its discrimination. Quoth the judge, “Plaintiffs cannot shed the label babe; they embraced it when they went to work for the Borgata.”

The Suits – Someone at Saison is pissed. The Joshua Skenes restaurant is suing its former hospitality director, Matthew Mako, for “damages in excess of $500,000.” The SF Chronicle’s Justin Phillips reports, “It alleges Mako made direct contact with the restaurant’s investors and customers to engage in ‘deceitful, wrongful, and unlawful acts to further his own economic gains and to harm Saison.’” Curiouser and curiouser: The suit was supposedly going to be dropped last month, but suddenly ramped up again in the past few weeks.

Noma 2.0 – If you’ve already seen the latest video update from René Redzepi, I recommend re-watching it from the perspective of an annoyed shareholder. Lines like these will make you chuckle(?): “It’s not a big delay, but there’s been delays… but in all honesty, it might even be a good thing for us.” Got it.

For the bar – After stepping down from the non-profit side of Tales of the Cocktail, founders Ann and Paul Tuennerman are selling their stakes in for-profit production company MOJO911 LLC. Thus ends a complicated corporate relationship that – as far as I understand it – saw TOTC (controlled by the Tuennermans) raising funds as a non-profit to pay MOJO911 LLC (also controlled by the Tuennermans) to run events that also raised fund for TOTC, which in turn… you get it. Some 2015 numbers in the full story on TOTC income: $2.9M, TOTC expenses: $2.7M, biggest expense: $844k paid to MOJO911 LLC.

That Fast-Casual Consulting $$$ – Announcement from Chipotle on Business Wire: “Chipotle Mexican Grill has entered into a partnership with chef, restaurateur and James Beard-nominated cookbook author, Richard Blais, for its Tasty Made burger restaurant.” Good gig, RB?

This Family Meal is brought to you by World Central Kitchen, which is currently raising funds to help support their chef-driven relief in Puerto Rico. You can get an inside look at some of the work José Andrés and his crew are doing to help people recover from Hurricane Maria in this recent piece on CNN, and donate directly to the cause here. Restaurants looking to get involved or raise funds through events should reach out to Kevin Holst (

A note from the field: Yesterday, José and chefs from World Central Kitchen’s Chef Network served 5,000 meals to hospitals, elderly homes, and communities affected by Hurricane Maria and plan on ramping up efforts to serve over 10,000 daily.

Chicago Sushi Shutter – Per Chicago MagazineKatsu is closing: This year marks the 29th year Katsu Imamura and wife Haruko have run what many Chicagoans consider the finest and most faithful Japanese restaurant in town. And they have decided it’s time to end this chapter. Imamura, 74, will be retiring at the end of November, and the couple decided Katsu cannot be Katsu without, well, Katsu. Tentatively, they will be closing the Sunday after Thanksgiving, November 26.”

Michelin Season – Ahead of next week’s release, Michelin UK has started posting their Bib Gourmands on Twitter this morning (scroll down their feed for the list), and British critic Jay Rayner has this prediction: “My prediction re new Michelin stars reveal. Manchester will be livid; doesn’t matter what happens. The whole of Mancs will still be furious.”

The Documentary Treatment – There’s a filmmaker profiling Mexican food maven Diana Kennedy, and Eater has the trailer (and fundraiser) here: “The film will feature a bunch of archival footage, including scenes from an unaired show Kennedy shot for the the Learning Channel, plus interviews with people like Alice WatersEnrique Olvera, and José Andrés. The filmmakers say that they are 90 percent done with production, and now they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to cover the remaining costs.”

Last but not least – Bringing it back around to Hugh Hefner… Writer John Birdsall, who is currently working on a book on James Beard, had this to add: “Playboy really wanted James Beard to write some pieces. He hemmed and passed, worried the nudie pics would smirch his general appeal… This was in the 1960s.”

Mr. Beard would be a bit surprised at what it takes to get one’s “general appeal” smirched these days…

And that’s it for Friday. If this little fall heat wave is hitting your town, I hope you can milk the last few days of patio covers for all they’re worth.

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal!

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or Shake Shack consulting contract offers to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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