The Family Meal – Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

If you are an Eagles fan, congrats! If you recently invested in Bitcoin or index funds, I’m sorry. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself. And if you’re looking for industry news, here it is:

Michelin Saison – Via press release out yesterdayFifty-seven new restaurants were added to the 2018 MICHELIN Guide France, which now has a grand total of 621 Michelin-starred restaurants, an increase from the 616 included in 2017. The big news for this year is the addition of two new three-starred restaurants—Christophe Bacquié and La Maison des Bois – Marc Veyrat.”

AFP note: “Marc Veyrat, the comeback king of French cuisine… has now won the top rating for three different restaurants over the course of his career. Nine years after Veyrat was forced to give up cooking after a serious skiing accident and three after his alpine restaurant La Maison des Bois burned down, the 67-year-old was back at the summit of French cooking.”

There were also 50 new one-star restaurants and five new two-stars. That’s too many newly minted single-stars to list here, so here’s a pic of their chefs all together on stage. (If you’re looking for progress on diversity, avert your eyes.)

The five new two-stars are: Hostellerie Jérôme in La Turbie, Takao Takano in Lyon, Flaveur in Nice, Au 14 Février in Saint-Amour-Bellevue, and Jean Sulpice in Talloires.

The Law – Heads up statewide in CA: “Under a proposal from Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), California cities would not be able to regulate or ban vendors unless they have a licensing system that meets several requirements. Cities could not bar vending in parks. They could not limit where vendors can do business or cap their numbers unless the rules were tied to ‘objective health, safety or welfare concerns.’ And they could not require vendors to get permission from the brick-and-mortar shops next door…” Details in the LAT.

Follow up – Last week’s Eater NY story about alleged abuse and racism at Mission Chinese got a healthy dose of skepticism because Mr. Maimon Kirschenbaum (who some – don’t sue me, MK! – see as an opportunistic shakedown artist) is on the case, so editor Serena Dai took to Twitter to add some context: “The staffers reached out to me, not the attorney. They were eager to talk about their experiences particularly because of Mission’s rosy rep / Frankly, I wasn’t surprised to hear about this. In the fall, a couple former staffers reached out to me about similar conditions, but I wasn’t quite able to nail down a story. Like with other negative restaurant culture pieces, many people are afraid to talk / So yes, this is a lawsuit story, and yes, the attorney suing is notorious in the industry. But he’s not the only person involved, and the staff in the suit are not the only people who’ve had things to say.” There you have it.

The Media – In NYC, Grubstreet editor Sierra Tishgart has announced she’s moving on to start her own company. No word yet on what said company might do, but as part of her farewell, she posted the original cover letter / email that got her an interview for the Grubstreet gig. Copy / paste / edit / send to NY Mag if you’re interested in her job (or at least the open staff writer position)?

The Critics’ Dilemma – Both Alison Cook (in the Houston Chronicle) and Tim Carman (in the Washington Post) have pieces out this week about how critics are struggling to handle writing about the restaurants of the #metoo accused. Cook’s discusses the specific question of alleged domestic abuser Paul Qui, and is notable for being written by a woman and “survivor of male violence”. Carman’s is a meta-analysis of multiple takes on the matter, including Cook’s piece, Jonathan Gold’s recent Hearth & Hound reviewCraig LaBan’s last Philadelphia Inquirer introspective, and, because clicks, a little quote from Anthony Bourdain. That last bit set off a Twitter fight between Bourdain and Pete Wells (and some other critics and critics of critics), which Grubstreet helpfully summed up because… clicks.

The Critics’ Consensus – Performing an essential public service, critics at GQThe New York TimesEater NY, and the NY Post all reviewed Salt Bae‘s restaurant this week. (Buy your PR person a drink. It’s not their fault.)

Some sad news – Andre Surmain, who transformed his cooking school’s Manhattan townhouse into Lutèce, an epicurean mecca defined by haute cuisine, even higher prices and a high-and-mighty clientele, died on Wednesday at his home in St. Paul en Foret, in the South of France. He was 97.” Full obituary for both the man – fighter of Nazis, James Beardcollaborator, early Cuisinart evangelist, etc. etc. – and his era of fine dining, in the NYT.

Favorite quote: “‘When someone orders a very fine wine,’ he explained to New York magazine in 1983, ‘I bring it to the table myself, along with a decanter and an extra glass. I personally decant the wine over a candle, pour a little into my glass to taste, and if the wine is all right, I then turn to the host and say, “How I envy you this experience.” And let me tell you,’ he added, ‘it takes someone with a lot of chutzpah to send back a wine after that.’”

Speaking of eras ending – Per Eater Chicago, “The oldest restaurant in Chicago’s Chinatown closed last week after 90 years on the South Side. Won Kow Restaurant, the once-bustling spot in the heart of Chicago’s Chinese community, closed on February 1.”

The After Party – In Chicago, “Caitlin Laman (Ace Hotel), Shelby Allison(Lost Lake) and Sharon Bronstein (The 86 Co.) are the brains behind Chicago Style, a new cocktail conference May 7-10, timed to run just after the James Beard Foundation Awards.” The write-up in the Tribune makes it sound like there will definitely be an agenda in terms of inclusivity, diversity, and discussion of the big issues facing the industry, but, Laman says, “The content’s the same as any other cocktail conference. It’s just that the people you’re hearing from are going to be different.”

For design fans – In NYC, “The Most Popular Seating in Town Is the Blue Banquette,” so here’s a photo-spread with examples from GloriaMotel MorrisScampiEleven Madison ParkNishiLa MercerieBaar BaarSalinasLa Pecora Bianca Midtown, and Due West.

And last and least – If anyone at Michelin is reading this: For the love of God, hire someone to revamp everything. You have an occasionally captive audience and a massive organizational infrastructure with a presumably vast inventory of potentially decent content, but what could be one useful site is a segmented nightmare of missed opportunity. Michael Ellis, if you need help, just ask. If you think most tasting menus are reasonable, I know some affordable folks.

And that’s it for today. I hope your week – and the S&P 500 – only gets better from here on out.

I’ll see you Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or IRL blue banquette sightings to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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