The Family Meal – Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Hello Tuesday,

T-minus 6 days till Christmas. Want to feel old? SNL’s Chris Farley died 20 years ago yesterday. Here he is reading Zagat to Adam Sandler. The gun joke is as dated as the lack of Yelp. Enjoy.

And now, the (industry) news…

The Apology – By now you’ve probably heard that Mario Batali ended an already totally inadequate attempt to apologize for serial sexual harassment (plus some alleged sexual assault) with the post script heard round the (food) world: “p.s. in case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite.”

It did not go well. (Here’s the WaPo roundup of early social media reaction, including Pete Wells doing his best Bieber.)

The real question is: WHO DID IT? I don’t mean Batali, because, let’s face it, the guy has outrageously bad judgment. I mean what PR person either suggested or agreed to adding a cinnamon roll recipe to an already terrible apology (nothing says “I’m sorry” like failing to mention the victims)? If you share a PR / crisis management team with Mario Batali, it may be time to start shopping for another firm…

On the other hand… Eater’s Editor-in-Chief Amanda Kludt has a mirror opposite P.S. in her From The Editor this week: “How do we cover these men’s restaurants? Covering the news of the restaurant of an alleged assaulter (be it Batali or Paul Qui or Michael Chiarello) is somewhat straightforward. We cover it, but we give the context: ‘This restaurant is opening, but P.S. the person who owns it is accused of hitting his spouse.’”

The Vigilantes – “I. AM. PISSED. Tonight I worked with a dozen other female chefs. We swapped harassment stories all night,” tweeted Samin Nosrat (of Salt Fat Acid Heat fame and Chez Panisse work), “To those of you who want to speak up – on the record or anonymously – please get in touch and I will guide you to a journalist who will listen to you, respect you, and help bring your painful experiences into the light…” Meanwhile Allison Robicelli – who would probably also be gladly characterized as “PISSED” – is tweeting out anonymous stories of abuse in the food industry “through the end of the year.”

The Media – Heads up food section: According to Kim Severson, the newest publisher of the New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger, is… a vegan.

Also, I missed this last week from Philadelphia Inquirer food editor, Maureen Fitzgerald: “After 31 years at the newspaper, beginning part time in 1986, and working the last 12 as food editor, I have decided to take a buyout. This is my last week at the helm, after editing some 600 weekly food sections.” She uses her farewell column to plug her charity work with My Daughter’s Kitchen, which seems worth plugging.

And, while some sectors of food media are hurting (Condé Nast prepping big cuts, alt-weeklies continuing to get hammered), the NYT is posting big gains on their Cooking site. Axios reports that almost 15% of new Times digital subscriptions last quarter were for Cooking.

School’s out forever – “Maryland-based L’Academie de Cuisine, considered one of the top cooking schools in America, abruptly announced its closure on Friday, ending its 41-year history of supplying chefs to the D.C. restaurant community and beyond… During its four-decade run, L’Academie produced high-profile chefs around Washington, including [Carla Hall], [Aaron Silverman of Pineapple and Pearls and Rose’s Luxury], pastry chef Aggie Chin of Mirabelle, chef Katsuya Fukushima of Daikaya (and formerly Minibar) and chef Nick Stefanelli of Masseria.” Tim Carman has a eulogy of sorts with more details in the Washington Post.

West Coast Moves – Seattle’s Renee Erickson (The Walrus and the Carpenter et al.) is dipping her toes into L.A. with “a new location of her coffee and doughnuts shop General Porpoise sometime next year, as part of a big new development overhaul for the entire Pacific Palisades community.” Full story in Eater L.A.

This Family Meal is brought to you by GoTab: Split, Tip, Pay, and Go. GoTab is the fastest, safest, and easiest way to pay your tab right from your phone at any bar or restaurant. Find out more at

Chicago Shutters – Chef Shawn McClain’s “Green Zebra, which has served acclaimed, seasonal vegetarian, and vegan small plates for more than 13 years since it opened in 2004… will shutter after service on New Year’s Eve.” Eater Chicago has McClain’s statement on the closing here.

If you like getting annoyed by lists – Here is Zagat’s ranking of the “30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America.” (Including – spoiler alert – writers from both Birmingham and Miami each claiming their city is “The Magic City.” Magic!)

For the bar – Two year-old BevCon is leaving Charleston. “BevCon®, an annual beverage industry-only conference, has announced it will take place at the LINE Hotel in Koreatown, Los Angeles on August 19-21, 2018.” Their call for presentations went live Friday, due 2/2.

For the bar 2 –  Next big(ish) thing? The NYT talks educating bar staff on Armagnac, and says it’s working: “Sales in the United States have grown 131 percent since 2009, making the country the top export market for Armagnac.”

On “T.V.” – Netflix is debuting a new documentary series from Anthony Bourdain’s Zero Point Zero in January. Rotten “gives food the true crime treatment, diving deep into the food production underworld to expose the corruption, waste and real dangers behind your everyday eating habits. In a world where huge global supply-chains are increasingly intertwined and consolidated, this series starts on your dinner plate… and follows the money to the shocking consequences—intended or not—of regulation, innovation and greed.” AND MURDER. Maybe? Trailer and details on Deadline.

Last and definitely oldest – FWIW, Jeremiah Tower just posted a letter he signed in July, 1993(!) at Stars saying, “I have observed several of the kitchen staff touching each other – inappropriately – such as pats on the buttocks from one cook to another. You must refrain from any touching that might be misinterpreted. It is simply not allowed.” It goes on to threaten disciplinary action and ends: “Please be aware… it’s the law!” (If anyone who worked at STARS is reading this, please reply and let me know how much reality matched up with policy…)

And that’s it for today. Take care out there, and I’ll see you Friday for next Family Meal!

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or unreasonably indignant responses to mid-90s SNL clips to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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