Thinking of everyone in Southern California this morning. Latest headline in the LA Times before I hit send: “More than 400 structures destroyed in 115,000-acre Ventura County wildfire.” Ugh.
If you’re looking to help, LA Kitchen could use some volunteers?
And now the (industry) news…
Michelin Season – Bangkok’s first ever guide is out, with zero three-star entries, three two-star entries (Gaggan, Le Normandie, and Mezzaluna), fourteen single-stars (Bo.lan, Chim by Siam Wisdom, Elements, Ginza Sushi Ichi, J’AIME by Jean Michel Lorain, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Nahm, Paste, Saneh Jaan, Savelberg, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, Sühring, Upstairs at Mikkeller, and street vendor Jay Fai “Where the owner-chef insists on staying at the tiny open kitchen with her homemade charcoal stoves, continuing what her father started 70 years ago, making crab omelettes, crab curries and dry congee.”), plus 35 Bib Gourmands.
Cool note in the press release: “Reflecting the impressive diversity of street food in Bangkok, which is one of the most attractive spots for visitors from around the world, the MICHELIN guide [also includes] a total of 28 street food stalls.”
PS: Up next for Michelin in Asia? Guangzhou. “The announcement coincided with a ‘strategic cooperation signing ceremony,’ which saw Michelin partner with the Guangzhou Tourism Bureau to promote the city’s image.” Transaltion: $$$.
Speaking of awards – The 2017 Eater Awards came out Friday. Of note: The Eater “Icon” this year is already in LA, partnering with LA Kitchen to help feed people in a disaster zone once agin. You’ll never guess who it is. (No clickbait rule: It’s José Andrés.)
That hotel $$$ – Per Eater NY, “Nicholas Morgenstern of Morgenstern’s Ice Cream, GG’s, and El Rey will open a ground floor restaurant and rooftop lounge in an upcoming Ace Hotel on Bowery… the ground-floor American restaurant will be called Cafe Como.”
That corporate cafeteria $$$ – “The former Condé Nast cafeteria at the Durst Organization’s Four Times Square is reopening after five years in the dark… Durst will relaunch the titanium-wrapped, fourth-floor venue as part of a $35 million, tenants-only fourth floor in the 1.2-million-square-foot tower. It will be run by ‘new Nordic cuisine’ pioneer Claus Meyer.” Details in the NY Post.
Bad PR – A Q&A session during the Young Farmers Conference at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture went so poorly that Mark Bittman had to issue a “regarding last night” apology. Bittman’s opening speech was in part about addressing racial disparities in farming, but then he seemed to struggle with empathy towards an audience member asking about race. There’s too much nuance here to describe in one paragraph, but you can read the whole story in The New Food Economy. One big takeaway: If you’re going to be on a panel about anything these days, there is a good chance you’ll get questions about race, gender, LGBTQ issues, and more. Fair enough. Be prepared.
The expansion – “Joshua Skenes, the chef/owner of… Saison, is expanding. He will add a new casual restaurant to his portfolio called Angler, which will debut in San Francisco in summer 2018 and then in Los Angeles in fall 2018.” Via Eater.
The exit – In NYC, Victoria Blamey announced on Instagram that Friday was her last day as exec chef at Chumley’s. No word on what’s next.
The entry – “With Tartine Manufactory set to receive a full liquor license, founders Chad Robertson and Liz Prueitt have hired Julian Cox, the decorated bartender behind a decade of top LA cocktail programs at restaurants like Bestia, Redbird, Otium, and Sotto.” Announcement (and nice tux shot, Julian!) in Eater SF.
The Boycott – The new owners of LA Weekly are feeling the backlash from their mass firing last week, with former staffers pressuring restaurants and sponsors to drop out of the paper’s December 14th Sips & Sweets event. Eater LA is keeping a list of everyone who has decided to drop out so far, including, at time of writing: Momed, Wanderlust Creamery, Resident, 71 Above/Darwin Manahan, Angel City Brewery, Fred 62, The Lucques Group, Roger Room, The Pikey, Nerano, Drunken Cake Pops, and Blind Barber. My heart goes out to sponsor Jim Beam Vanilla, who just wanted to showcase its beautiful, natural flavor to the world.
UPDATE: Sips & Sweets has been cancelled. They couldn’t pull it off. Cc: Ja Rule.
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The Profile Treatment – The SF Chronicle’s Justin Phillips has this fantastic write-up on Nigel Jones, whose East Bay Kingston 11 “remains relatively under the radar to San Francisco chef-watchers and the greater Bay Area. That’s fine, Jones says. Kingston 11 wasn’t built to please everyone, or to garner attention from bloggers and food writers. But his next project, whether he desires it or not, will. In mid-January, Jones, who was raised in Kingston, Jamaica, will open a new Caribbean restaurant in San Francisco. Named Kaya, it will be a partnership with chef Daniel Patterson and will be located in the Mid-Market space that currently houses Patterson’s Alta.
The Critics – The Washingtonian’s Jessica Sidman has this fun look at critic spotting through a single night out for “Dean Cook” (WaPo’s Tom Sietsema) at Starr Restaurant’s Le Diplomate in D.C. “Back in the kitchen, chefs prepared two foie gras parfaits, two steak frites—two of everything Sietsema’s table ordered. The nicer-looking plate was sent out, while at least four senior staff sampled the duplicate to reassure themselves that nothing tasted amiss. A manager and the executive chef also photographed each dish, then texted the images to corporate honchos in Philadelphia.” (Related: St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic Ian Froeb was recently revealed to look exactly like Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, allegedly.)
The Suits – “Sushi Nakazawa has been hit with a class-action lawsuit filed by Maimon Kirschenbaum, the lawyer who has sued everyone from Mario Batali to Keith McNally over labor and wage issues. The lawsuit (view it here) — which Kirschenbaum sent to Grub — names co-owners Alessandro Borgognone and chef Daisuke Nakazawa as defendants, for allegedly ‘willfully failing and refusing to pay them at the legally required minimum wage for all hours worked,’ misappropriating tips, neglecting to provide required wage notices, and for not paying overtime.” Details in Grubstreet.
For design fans – Here’s a photo spread of DaDong in NYC. (“Chef-owner Dong Zhenxiang (‘da’ means ‘big’ in Chinese)” – heh heh.) Love that it’s so serious and modern, and then you see the ducks. And for a (much) more rustic feel, here’s April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s new LA spot Hearth & Hound. (It also has a tiny animal sculpture motif, in the form of a plump, copper basset hound on the pass, and at least one undernourished coonhound(?) in the dining room.)
Last and least – We have to talk about The Shed at Dulwich, which rocketed to the #1 Restaurant in London on TripAdvisor, despite never having been open. It was, of course, a prank. Vice writer Oobah Butler used his own experience as a paid online reviewer to get things started… “And then, one night, I get an email from TripAdvisor. Title: ‘Information Request’. Fuck – the game is up. I’ve been rumbled. My fingers tremble as I open it: 89,000 views in search results in the past day; dozens of customers asking for information. Why? Well, on the 1st of November, 2017, six months after listing The Shed at Dulwich online: It’s London’s top-rated restaurant.”
The article is a step by step, and it’s funny. But I wish the joke were more on TripAdvisor than the customers. Spoiler alert: They end up luring a bunch of unsuspecting people to The Shed, serving them shit food, and laughing at them. Meh. A much cooler ending would have been: Try to actually be the best restaurant in London for one night.
And that’s it for today. Wherever you are tonight, I hope it’s the #1 place in town.
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
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