The Family Meal – Friday, December 29th, 2017

Hello Friday,

If you’re reading this, you have nearly survived the holiday season. Nearly.

Let’s get to it…

The “Step Away” – Big reporting from Tara Duggan in the Chronicle: “Oakland chef Charlie Hallowell steps away from restaurants as 17 women accuse him of sexual harassment… They said that Hallowell expressed an obsession with female bodies, particularly pregnant ones, detailing romantic partners’ bodily functions and sexual acts. He also routinely made vivid comparisons between food and sex or female anatomy, former employees said.” Hallowell’s restaurants (PizzaioloBoot & Shoe ServicePenrose) were (are?) beloved neighborhood spots, with an outward focus on community. As writer John Birdsall tweeted after news broke, “Probably no restaurant has done more messaging on social justice and community building than Pizzaiolo. As customers, we could feel good that we were ‘supporting community’; meanwhile, the people cooking for us worked in a toxic workplace.”

Toxic like this alleged incident from the Chronicle piece: “On a busy night, the bartender, now 30, said he came behind the bar, put his arms around her and leaned in to whisper a few words that are burned into her memory: ‘When was the last time you let someone come inside you?’”

For a bit more understanding about what it was like in Hallowell’s orbit, check out this thread from a “friend”, @kirabira.

What is the opposite of shocked? Bourdain Market, that sprawling, international street hawker food hall that Anthony Bourdain said was being built on Manhattan’s Pier 57, is not going to happen. Seems there was just a touch of exaggeration about how much was already in place when Bourdain let the NYT believe that leases and partnerships were done deals back in 2015. Hopefully he was more cautiously optimistic with prospective vendors.

The ripple effect – Save a thought for Vallery Lomaswho won season 3 of The Great American Baking Show, only to have her big break all but erased when The Food Network pulled the show off the air after unrelated allegations against host Johnny Iuzzini. To add insult to injury, she has to spend her time commenting on his actions instead of getting to celebrate her own achievements. Ugh.

TOTC – Big news in NOLA, by way of NYT: “The Solomon family, a prominent civic and philanthropic force in New Orleans, has signed a nonbinding letter of intent to buy [Tales of the Cocktail] from Ann Tuennerman, the organization’s founder, and her husband, Paul Tuennerman. If the transaction proceeds, the convention will run as scheduled in July — something many people had begun to doubt.”’

Extra Grace – If you want more he said / they said on the Grace closure in Chicago, the Sun-Times has you covered here. It’s mostly lead investor Michael Olszewski’s side of the story, plus this tid-bit: “Under their deals, [Michael Muser and Curtis Duffy] were set to reap one-third of Grace’s profits each after five years. That clause would have gone into effect next month.” The definition of coincidence?

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Some sad news – Canter’s Deli, one of the oldest and most famous eateries in Los Angeles, suffered a huge loss after one of their family figure heads passed away. According to the L.A. County Coroner, 58-year-old Gary Canter died Tuesday evening around 7:00PM.”

And “Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi, widely considered the father of the country’s nouvelle cuisine, died on Tuesday in his native city of Milan at the age of 87, local media said. Marchesi ran the restaurant Marchesino, located in the heart of Milan on the prestigious Piazza della Scala.”

And “One of New York City’s more prominent and well-liked wine personalities, wine merchant and ex-sommelier Jean-Luc Le Dû, has died suddenly at the age of 52.” The Daily Meal has an obituary here. Responding to NYT wine critic Eric Asimov’s “Oh no!” reaction to Le Dû’s passing on Twitter, Pete Wellswrote, “He was one of the first somms I knew who could talk about wine originally, creatively, personally.”

Look who’s running for office – Per Pittsburgh Magazine: “Sonja Finn, chef/owner of Dinette in Shadyside and consulting chef of The Cafe Carnegieat the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, announced her candidacy for Pittsburgh City Council District 8 seat.”

The Profile Treatment – On the verge of opening his first restaurant, Wursthall in San Mateo, The Food Lab’s J. Kenji Lopéz-Alt gets a long Grubstreet write-up: “Can the nerd king of home cooking conquer the restaurant world?” Pity the nerd king: “He feels he gets lumped in unfairly with an obnoxious, troll-prone segment of his fan base. ‘I’ll see these dudes on social media who use what they learned from Food Lab to put other people down.’ Even he has come into their crosshairs: ‘I’ll post a photo of something I’ve cooked, and they tell me, “I can’t believe you did it this way.” Sometimes I think: What have I unleashed?’”

What the profile unleashed was an argument about cultural appropriation between…

Kenji: “I like Rick Bayless because he respectfully introduces Mexican food to me in a way that I understand because of our shared cultural background. He knows what it’s like being a white American male trying to cook Mexican food.”

Michael Ruhlman: “re: schmaltz, a fear of it seems so ingrained in the Jewish culture it almost had to be an athiest goy to recognize its glories. non ethnics cooking ethnic, same as say a white author writing from Asian or African perspective? Part of the broader current cultural taboo?”

And Helen Rosner: “Are you fucking kidding me Michael? I genuinely cannot imagine that you are not kidding me right now. Please, confirm that you are kidding me.”

Which sort of started here, but due to Twitter’s weird, threading ways kind of ended somewhere around here. Honestly, I can’t figure out how Twitter manages these things anymore, so just know that clicking on almost any of the tweets in the thread will send you down various rabbit holes. Enjoy.

And if you like public arguments – You’ll love Nick Kokonas and Steve Cuozzo re: TockAs narrated by Pete Wells.

Last and least – Looking for a better ball drop? A reminder from the man himself: “If you play ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins on December 31st at 11:56:40 the drum break will play right as the clock strikes midnight. Start off your new year right.” You are welcome.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY! For what it’s worth, whether you’re looking for continuity or reset, I’m rooting for you.

And I will see you back here on Friday, January 5th, 2018.

Hot damn.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or terrible, very bad, no good, so-2017 jokes about seeing me next year to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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