Before we get started: A big weekend shout out to everyone in D.C. warming up the shutdown specials. May your puns bring the buns.
And speaking of the looming shutdown, José Andrés was in the Washington Post yesterday with an Op-Ed on DACA and more: “President Trump, if you are reading this: Back in 2016 you told me in a phone conversation that you wanted to hear more about my views in on immigration. We haven’t spoken in a while….”
America’s Classics – The James Beard Foundation is out with its 2018 America’s Classics today, honoring “regional establishments, often family-owned, that are cherished for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal.” And the winners are… Sun Wah (Chicago), Galleria Umberto (Boston), Los Hernandez (Union Gap, WA), El Guero Canela (Tuscon), and Duong Phuong Bakery (NOLA). How about that for an All-American list of names!
Act Two – “After the Apologies, Restaurants Struggle to Change” and Kim Severson chronicled those struggles across the country in the NYT yesterday. A lot to work through in there, but my key take away is that while Joe Bastianich may be “intent on ‘completely changing the DNA of [B&B Hospitality]’” through basic corporate restructuring, a name change, and improved medical benefits, women in New Orleans are actually getting some shit done at the Besh Restaurant Group:
When the first NOLA.com exposé broke, “Shannon White persuaded Mr. Besh and his business partner, Octavio Mantilla, to make her chief executive. ‘I think it’s a women’s problem, and women have to take the lead,’ she said. ‘A man is not going to understand it.’ … She set up a hotline, revised training procedures and updated the employee handbook, adding a code of conduct and a morals-and-ethics clause. She started an assistance program open to all 1,200 employees, and is creating an employee advisory committee. She hired an independent investigator who unearthed another case of harassment. … ‘No matter what, there were people who were at our restaurants who were being harassed, period. And it was going to stop, whatever it took.’”
P.S. – ICYMI, BRG also did some corporate restructuring recently, offloading its hotel restaurant division to a new business called QED Hospitality, co-owned by CEO Emery Whalen and Borgne exec chef Brian Landry. “QED Hospitality now owns the contracts to run Caribbean Room, Bayou Bar, Hot Tin and Silver Whistle at the Pontchartrain Hotel and Marsh House and L.A. Jackson in Nashville’s Thompson Hotel.”
P.P.S. – About that B&B Hospitality DNA… Here’s Joe Bastianich explaining that Chinese men are “inadequate in certain situations” on Italian TV.
Meanwhile, out West – Per the Chronicle: “7 managers threaten to quit Oakland restaurants unless [chef-owner Charlie Hallowell] divests.” He’s actually stopped taking a salary, but staff are still upset about this stake in the company. “As pressure from them has mounted, Hallowell has begun communicating through crisis management consultant Larry Kamer.” As one does.
For TV fans – David Chang has a new show – Ugly Delicious – coming out on Netflix next month. “The eight episode docuseries will follow the Momofukufounder around the globe looking at what we eat as the bridge between cultures.” Not exactly a groundbreaking concept, but the clip in this Deadline article at least promises greater-than-usual diversity of perspective.
Food Media – The NYT reports on cuts at Saveur: Six people have been laid off, “including Adam Sachs, who has served as the publication’s editor in chief since 2014; the photo editor, Michelle Heimerman; and the creative director, Richard Baker.… The team of full-time editorial employees at Saveur is down to six people. In the wake of the layoffs, Stacy Adimando, who joined the magazine as its test-kitchen director in 2016, has been promoted to executive editor.” Print issues will drop from bi-monthly to quarterly. At least Sachs still has a sense of humor, if not a desk.
Food Media 2 – They bit the hand, Via Canadaland: “In late December, Toronto Life pulled a restaurant review critical of an advertiser from its website, even though the review had already been published in its print edition. The review of BlueBlood, which awards the restaurant two stars (out of a possible five), is the lead feature in the Food & Drink section of the magazine’s January issue, which also includes a full-page ad for the steakhouse on its inside back cover.”
The Class Actions – An LA court has allowed a class action suit to go ahead regarding price-fixing: “At issue in the case is whether the 17 restaurants named in the complaint colluded in establishing a surcharge in violation of state antitrust laws… In addition to Rustic Canyon and sister brands Huckleberry Café and Milo & Olive, the restaurants included in the case are operated by some of the city’s top restaurateurs, including Suzanne Goin of AOC, The Hungry Cat, and Lucques; Josiah Citrin of Melisse; and Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal, Son of a Gun and Trois Mec.” Details in Restaurant Hospitality.
For design fans – Eater LA and photographer Wonho Frank Lee give you NoMad LA. It is spectacular. Please remember to tip the upholsterers if you go.
Some sad news – In New York, “the always-present matriarch behind Alphabet City mainstay Casa Adela has died, according to the Puerto Rican restaurant. Adela Fargas — long a fixture in the East Village and LES — was 81.”
The Margins – If you want to do a lil cost comparison, Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes got some restaurants to do detailed dish-by-dish breakdowns – sometimes down to the cent – and it’s well worth a peak. Re: Amy Brandwein’s “L’Inverno with warm roasted vegetables and garlicky bagna cauda ($14)” at Centrolina: “’We’re making about $9 off of it before labor and everything,’ Brandwein says. That’s 36 percent food cost. ‘It’s a misconception that vegetables are cheap.’”
Send good thoughts – Via Bravo, “Top Chef Season 15 contestant Fatima Ali underwent surgery to remove a tumor in her left shoulder on Tuesday after she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a bone and soft tissue cancer, last fall.” (Obligatory hospital bed selfie with Padma Laksmi included.)
Last and least – Credit to Kat Kinsman for tweeting out the video of Gleaming Spires song “Are You Ready For The Sex Girls?” She called it “the best cooking video of all time,” but having heard it first via Revenge of the Nerds, I had no idea the actual official video was two men in aprons earnestly making a pie and coffee. “No one is ready for the sex girls.”
And that’s it for today. If you see Roy Choi wandering LA this weekend, please take him to the nearest Locol and tell him it’s 2018. Thank you.
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.