Bit of a long one today, mostly because of a rather large roundup of a rather big man…
Some sad news – By now you’ve heard that Paul Bocuse passed away on Saturday. He was 91. Among the many obituaries and tributes:
The NYT obit is best if you’re looking for a detailed CV / history: “After the war, he resumed his apprenticeship at the restaurant, La Mère Brazier in Le Col de la Luère, outside Lyon. Like its twin in Lyon, it was owned by the legendary Eugénie Brazier and had achieved three Michelin stars by serving impeccable renditions of regional classics. After a brief stint at the three-star Lucas Cartonin Paris, where he worked alongside the brothers Pierre and Jean Troisgros, Mr. Bocuse spent eight years under [Fernand Point] at La Pyramide in Vienne, near Lyon.”
While the WaPo version is better for current cultural context: “Often considered a ‘phallocrat,’ which the French translate as ‘male chauvinist pig,’ Mr. Bocuse routinely diminished a woman’s role in the kitchen, despite having studied under Eugénie Brazier, the first female chef to earn three Michelin stars. He told People magazine in 1976 that ‘women are good cooks, but they are not good chefs. Women who systematically want to do what men do just end by losing their femininity, and what I adore most of all is a feminine woman.’”
(Flashback to this 2015 interview with Cat Cora: “I sent out a packet with the awards I had won to ten three-star Michelin chefs, including Paul Bocuse, Frédy Girardet, George Blanc and Roger Vergé. I got eight rejection letters in a row. Every single one of them said, ‘We do not allow women in our kitchen.’”)
And Eater has a roundup of the many 280 character eulogies from friends, colleagues, and admirers: “I will always treasure our time together, especially that time in Florida… When we were relaxing in the jacuzzi, only you would call it ‘pot au feu.’ I laughed so hard. I still do.” – Jacques Torres on Instagram.
For something a bit more personal, Bill Buford (who has a book coming soon on studying to become a chef in Lyon) just posted “The First Time I Met Paul Bocuse” in the New Yorker: “He was slumped slightly in his chair, and, wearing a black Pringle cotton shirt, a worker’s cotton jacket, black trousers, and sneakers, he looked like a regional train conductor at the end of his shift. On spotting us, he stood up. He had shrunk considerably since I’d seen him at the Bocuse d’Or. Then again, that last time, he had been in a towering toque and heavy-heeled clogs, and doing that erect-chef-posture routine. Without the gear, he was, frankly, a little naked. He seemed, to me at least—and it is startling for me even to utter the thought—to be almost normal. He was a man.” (NB: For the rest of the article, Bocuse is God, and Buford an altar boy in awe.)
And lastly there’s critic Mimi Sheraton, who recalls in her “Love-Hate Relationship With Chef Paul Bocuse” the time her unflattering review of his restaurant led him to say, “she must have a very unsatisfactory sex life.” By the end – Saturday – she says, “Given those past associations, I find that I already miss this brilliant, self-promoting culinary master. We may not always have agreed but only because we both cared so much about the same glorious subject.”
And now, the rest of the (industry) news:
The Labels – The National Organic Standards Boards has proposed changes to the fine print behind USDA Organic certification, so here are a bunch of words I don’t understand, courtesy of Food Safety News: “This time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to change restrictions on 17 substances allowed in organic production or handling: micronutrients, chlorhexidine, parasiticides, fenbendazole, moxidectin, xylazine, lidocaine, procaine, methionine, excipients, alginic acid, flavors, carnauba wax, chlorine, cellulose, colors and glycerin. The changes up for public comment also add 16 substances to the National List, meaning organic producers can use them in production and handling: hypochlorous acid, magnesium oxide, squid byproducts, activated charcoal, calcium borogluconate, calcium propionate, injectable vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, kaolin-pectin, mineral oil, propylene glycol, acidified sodium chlorite, zinc sulfate, potassium lactate and sodium lactate.”
If you understood any of that, FYI: “The federal government is accepting public comments on the National List changes until March 19. For instructions on how to file comments, please click here.”
Lists I like – Eater is finally out with the rest of their “Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings in 24 Cities”. Link goes to a summary page which in turn links to individual city lists. Definitely worth some skimming if you’re trying to keep up.
The Fallout – In Oakland, “By Sunday, three managers and chefs had resigned from Charlie Hallowell’s restaurant Boot & Shoe Service after their demands that he divest from the company were not met.” Other staff are working on next moves too. Tara Duggan has the details in the Chronicle.
For design fans – Here’s Eater LA’s photo spread on David Chang’s LA Restaurant Majordomo” which looks cool and all, but… I think I’ve been to this WeWork?
For the somm – The NYT’s Eric Asimov has a profile this week of both a podcaster (Levi Dalton) and his podcast (“I’ll Drink to That”), which I am now glad to know is 442 episodes – and counting – of interviews with both wine world hits and deep cuts: “You could make an entire playlist of great Burgundy producers, like Guillaume d’Angerville and Michel Lafarge, the alpha and omega of Volnay; as well as Jeremy Seysses of Domaine Dujac, Jean-Marie Fourrier of Domaine Fourrier, or Frédéric Mugnier of Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier. Bordeaux is not neglected, nor is California, Champagne or Italy. Mr. Dalton has conducted fascinating interviews with Thomas Durouxof Château Palmer, Ehren Jordan of Failla, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon of the great Champagne producer Louis Roederer, and Frank Cornelissen, a natural wine producer on Mount Etna in Sicily. And if you have a taste for good assyrtiko from the island of Santorini, listen to Mr. Dalton interview Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of Gai’a Wines.”
For the bar: Tequila Punrise – Via the AP / SFGate: “Bacardi lines up shot of Patron, buying all of tequila maker: Bacardi Limited plans to swallow the rest of Patron Spirits in a deal that values the tequila maker at $5.1 billion.”
The Profile Treatment – Food writer Tamar Adler created some “giggling in the back row” with her “Grubstreet Diet” last week. Pete Wells (credit for that giggling quote) suggested that “if Alice Waters can’t get away with roasting an egg in a long handled spoon, then you probably can’t, either”, while Jen Aggand Anthony Bourdain – both of whom have had their work criticized by Adler in the past – singled it out as would be satire for their audiences (her tweet ; his tweet).
Quick question: How many selfies does someone get to post before they are no longer allowed to criticize other people for posting (or writing) selfies?
The Profile Treatment Too – If you can’t get enough of Francis Mallman living on an island in Patagonia, crucifying lambs over live fire, bravely (heroically?) discussing his free love lifestyle, and popping bottles of wine at 11am (a tidbit included after this earlier quote: “I never did drugs – I don’t know why. I feel that I’m drugged all day long so what else do we need?”), here’s Jeff Gordiner with a written version of Mallman’s Chef’s Table episode in GQ.
“But can he cook an egg in a spoon?” – Samin Nosrat.
The Close – “Rick Bayless’s Fonda Frontera served its final brunch on Sunday, ending a three-year run in Wicker Park. It’s the first Bayless standalone restaurant to shutter in Chicago…” Details in Eater Chicago.
The Close Too – In NYC, “Ando, David Chang’s ‘restaurant without walls,’ a meal-delivery enterprise that started two years ago, has closed.”
Submit to it – Can’t wait to see the results of this: Calling Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander food illustrators “to interpret a dish and/or ingredient from their culture as a full-page illustration” for a new zine. Paid (not much, but still).
Last and least – I’m sure most of you have seen it many times before, but damn, the exterior of Bocuse’s flagship in Lyon is really making me long for at least a little color to chip away at all the high end minimalism on main street.
And that’s it for today. I hope you all live long enough to see gold statuettes of yourselves presented as awards.
Or, at the very least, I hope to see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and send tips and/or your Top 26 Reasons Fenbendazole Should Be Allowed in Certified Organic Products to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at thisfamilymeal.com!