The Family Meal – Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Hello Tuesday, and Happy Halloween!

First, a PSA: PR people reading this, it’s not too late to send a reminder to your clients that blackface, Nazi cosplay, and basically any costumes referencing non-fiction victims or perpetrators of violence and/or harassment are – shocking but true – still not acceptable in 2017. Hell, you could just forward them this email and pretend it’s about something further down the page…

Speaking of which, let’s get to it…

Michelin Season – New York food media is unimpressed to say the least with this year’s Guide. NY Post’s Steve Cuozzo sums up the mood in his pro Le Coucou (snubbed again this year in “the dumbest diss since the 18th-century critic Dr. Samuel Johnson trashed John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost.’”) rant: “Except for properly honoring Le Bernardin and Eleven Madison Park with three stars each, Michelin’s New York list is full of WTF choices: such as chopping down Jean-Georges from three stars to two, while awarding three each to Per Seand Masa, both well past their prime… the [Le Coucou] slight will go down as France’s worst disgrace since it lost the 2006 World Cup on a headbutt, which the book’s mindless masters could use.”

Regarding that Jean-Georges drop from three stars to two, Eater’s Ryan Sutton adds: “The downgrade effectively confirms that New York is no longer the country’s fine dining capital in the eyes of Michelin. Only five local restaurants… now hold the guide’s highest honor of three stars, compared with seven in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

(Side note: Surprised that writers hating on Michelin haven’t made more of the fact that Jean-Georges is in a Trump building where Trump eats, so maybe this is a politically motivated downgrade? Maybe there was an inspector there when he took Romney out to dinner?)

Elsewhere on the listGinza Onodera moved up to two stars (Sutton points out: “Approximately 20 percent of the New York’s guide’s starred selections are now Japanese.”), and joining the one star ranks are Bar UchuThe ClocktowerCoteRouge TomateSatsuki, and Sushi Amane.

The numbers – Restaurant Business Online is out with its Top 100 Independents 2017 list, the ranking indies (defined here as concepts having no more than 5 locations) by gross revenue. The Top 10 is classics and clubstaurants: (1) Tao Las Vegas: $42.5M (2) Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami Beach: $37.2M (3) Tao Downtown, NYC: $33.4M (4) Carmine’s, NYC: $33.1M (5) Old Ebbitt Grill, D.C.: $32.7M (6) The Boathouse Orlando: $30.8M (7) Lavo New York: $26.8M (8) Smith & Wollensky, NYC: $26M (9) Bryant Park Grill & Café, NYC: $25.4M (10) Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, Chicago: $24.7M. More precise numbers, including breakdown by average check and total covers, are here (same link as above).

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:

Meanwhile in the UK – The Independent reports you might want to put your London dreams on ice: “A rising number of British restaurants are at risk of going bust due to Brexit, according to new research. Accountancy firm Moore Stephens said 20 per cent of restaurants, or 14,800 outlets, are threatened with closure. The number of restaurants declaring insolvency has risen by 13 per cent in the year ending March 2017, according to the study.”

The Media – Eater NY is hiring a part time restaurant reporter, FYI.

The Ingredients – Bloomberg headline: “Truffle Prices Double to $3,200 a Pound: Italy’s hot summer and dry fall could see supplies in some regions reduced by 90 percent.”

The Partnership – Down in Austin: “Aaron Franklin has partnered with Uchifounding chef Tyson Cole to become part of the team at Loro, a Japanese smokehouse from Uchi’s parent company, Hai Hospitality, that is slated to open late in the first quarter of next year.”

The Last Location – Via NYT: “By the end of the year, the Maccioni family is likely to be without a restaurant base of operations in New York. They have just announced that Circo, formally known as Osteria del Circo… will close after dinner on Sunday. It was known for its lively circus décor by Adam Tihany and as a showcase for some of the recipes of Egidiana Maccioni, the wife of the patriarch, Sirio Maccioni.”

Last and not at all least: The conversation – As more industry stories come out, including this week’s allegations of harassment at Le Bilboquet in NYC, a new op-ed in the NYT calls out Kitchen Confidential as an (the?) example of a book celebrating machismo in the restaurant industry in a way that Anthony Bourdain admitted to Slate has at least indirectly / mistakenly inspired some to celebrate less savory parts of kitchen culture. Current line from the preface: “I was not – and am not – an advocate for change in the restaurant business. I like the business just the way it is.” Maybe time for an updated forward?

Also, I don’t mean to toot my own tweet, but the difference in coverage from Eater on harassment without vs harassment within is striking.

And that’s it for today. I do not apologize for the lack of Halloween-related puns. I am dressing up as a sexy Instant Pot tonight and button design is taking all my creativity.

Good luck with all the weirdos tonight, and I’ll see you Friday for next Family Meal.

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

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