First, a shout out to the Las Vegas restaurant community coming together to support their city this week. What a week. Here’s hoping you and yours are safe and sound wherever you may be.
And now the (industry) news…
Bullish – Despite just a bit of evidence to the contrary lately, Danny Meyer still thinks everything is going to be alright, and has created a fund to help him place that bet. “Called Enlightened Hospitality Investments and quietly started by USHG in 2016, it’s already flush with cash from outside investors — $220 million, the Journal reports. It’s also already silently invested in several Meyer mini-mes, although the ones the paper mentions so far are all still food related: Joe Coffee in New York, a West Coast ice-cream chain called Salt & Straw, and the restaurant-booking app Resy.” Summary in Grubstreet, details – but only for subscribers – in the WSJ.
Side note – “Enlightened Hospitality” may soon translate to “Robots will take your order” at Shake Shack, as the group rolls out “cashless kiosk” tests in Manhattan this month.
Michelin Season: UK edition – The stars came out for the United Kingdom yesterday, with a new 3-star entry: Mitsuhiro Araki’s 9-seat sushi spot, The Araki. “Araki joins Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, The Fat Duck and the Waterside Inn at the top. Claude Bosi at Bibendum… was awarded two stars, taking that total to 20. Another 17 establishments were awarded a single star, swelling those ranks to 150.” Write-up on Araki and list of new winners is in Bloomberg. Eater uploaded the full list from the guide here.
OpenTable is attempting to innovate its way out of the Tock / Resy / Reservesiege on its territory by releasing new features for restaurants. Now available nationwide: “Guest Share” which allows restaurant groups to share customer info across locations. And because I know you thought of it too, here’s that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine finds out her medical chart lists her as a “difficult patient.”
The Job Offer – Speaking of Seinfeld… Eater talked to Greg Baxtrom(Olmstead) about his past and plans, and this anecdote stood out: “The last two years leading up to Olmsted, I was [Jerry and Jessica] Seinfeld’s personal chef. A friend of a friend knew them, so out of the blue I did a dinner for them, and I wasn’t even seeking it. They called me back a couple weeks later saying, sort of, ‘You could get a job anywhere with your resume, we could afford anybody we want. Why don’t we just figure something out?’” Everything’s an audition. More here.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Some Good news from Houston – Justin Yu’s Theodore Rex is on track to open Thursday.
InstaSchool – Per the NYT, “The venerable Culinary Institute of America will introduce two new elective courses in May, one in food photography and the other in food styling, to help students develop sophisticated skills not only for the plate but also for the app. The classes will teach students how to work with digital cameras and lighting, how to compose and edit a shot, and how to cook for the still camera.” How to cook for the still camera. Wow.
For Design Fans – Saveur’s Max Falkowitz takes on “The Brutalist Aesthetics of Aaron Turner’s Anti-Cookbook,” and finds that “for all its stark, grey-toned weirdness, IGNI is a stunning work of art, and the most beautiful cookbook I’ve seen in years.” That picture of “hay-smoked duck” is… intense.
PR PR – I absolutely do not think that José Andrés is using #chefsforpuertorico as a public relations ploy (and I’m guessing the thousands of hungry people getting hot meals from his team would agree), but FYI to the cynics out there: altruism shmaltruism – when you do great things, you get great press… Vogue: “a no-nonsense, boots-on-the-ground guardian angel”, Esquire: “proving that you don’t have to be a FEMA official or a first responder to come up with concrete solutions to save lives.” WaPo: “If President Trump has become a target of criticism for the administration’s response in Puerto Rico, Andrés has become a hero.”
Last but not quite least – If you’re looking for some long reads, Eater is going all in on “Death of Chains,” its take on the current state of the sit-down chains – think Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, Friendly’s and Olive Garden. The piece on the latter begins, improbably, “In the fall of 1889, when he was 41 years old, the painter Paul Gauguin was brutally, furiously alone… He was penniless and adrift, trying to paint his way through the devastations of his dying marriage, his rejection by the cliques of the Parisian art establishment, and the precarity of his friendship with Vincent van Gogh, who shortly before Christmas had assaulted him with a razor and, after Gauguin’s departure that evening, used the same blade to cut off his own ear.”
Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but seems uplifting…
And that’s it for today. I’ll see you back here Friday for next Family Meal! If the universe could hold off on tragedies between now and then, that would be great. Thanks.