The Family Meal – Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

Intro shmintro. Let’s get to it…

First: Free PR – Eater’s Young Guns nominations for 2018 are open till March 30th. “Nominees must be under 30 years of age — or have worked in their field for less than five years — as of April 30, 2018, and must be currently employed in the hospitality industry in the United States.” Details, rules, and nomination form here. As always: No shame in nominating yourself or asking me to do it for you.

Michelin Season – Nordic Edition: The 2018 Nordic Countries Guide is out, with one new three star restaurant, Björn Frantzén’s eponymous Frantzén in Stockholm, and two new two stars: Daniel Berlin in Skåne Tranås, Sweden (you’ll never guess the chef’s name), and Kadeau in Copenhagen. In the one star range, “Denmark has two: Me|Mu in Vejle and Jordnær in Gentofte. Sweden boasts three new One-Stars: SAV in Malmo, Aloë and Agrikultur in Stockholm. In Finland, Grön is a great addition to Helsinki, and in Norway Galt adds to the impressive array of restaurants in Oslo.” Press release here. Full lists here.

Beard season – The James Beard Award semifinalist list is out. Way too many almost-noms to name here (28 in the Best New Restaurants category alone), but the key this year – now that the committees are taking into account accusations against potential winners – is the blacklist. Via the NYT: “Aqui, in Houston, was not put on the best new restaurant list because the chef, Paul Qui, is awaiting trial after a fight that left his girlfriend bloody. But Jillian Bartolome, the restaurant’s pastry chef, won a nomination. The Hearth & Hound… didn’t make the cut for best new restaurant, either.”

A good get – Speaking of the Beards, congrats to chef Chris Fischer, a 2016 winner for The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook. He married some woman named Amy Schumer last week. Eater has the details and some wedding pics. Fischer’s “CV includes stints at Babbo in New York City and the River Cafe in London, and he also worked on Alice Waters’s Rome Sustainable Food Project.”

Some sad news – Of the many street vendors across the world I’ve heard calling out their wares, only two sirens have stuck with me in truly hi-fi audio memory: (1) The ice cream sellers of Kabul blasting out stripped-down, instrumental versions of “My Heart Will Go On”, and (2) Mr. Okra letting everyone in New Orleans know what he has on the truck that day. You can hear the latter in his obituary on NPRArthur James Robinson died Thursday at 75 years old.

Opening Problems – The new Noma’s new kitchen (apparently built byBelgian company Maes Inox?) did not quite come together in time for opening day, and, “With that, one of the best restaurants in the world made the most painful decision of its history: it would call the 80 or so guests who held bookings for the first day, and tell them that the new Noma would not be open in time to receive them… The staff had decided to open the restaurant for an extra service on Sunday, in order to accommodate the guests originally slated for Thursday. Everyone was gracious about it and managed to reschedule, with the exception of a German indie band that was going out on tour.” Full, fawning tale, in Vanity Fair.

Full, bitter confession: I did not win the raffle for a free trip for two to Noma’s opening night. I lost to Kai, whose winning quote for the raffle company’s PR video was, “That’s cool.”

For design fans – If you want to look inside #nomaocean, Eater has a collection of Instagram posts, and WSJ Magazine has “an exclusive look” behind an exclusive paywall.

For the somm – This ESPN longform on NBA players obsessing over wine, complete with pics of a Cavs tasting at Mayacamas, is such a fun read. Just a taste: “Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler travels with a wine case… Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, a fan of Bordeaux, makes the hour trek to Napa to unwind… Warriors forward Kevin Durant is still gauging which wines pair best with certain foods, still curious about terroir… Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wadestarted on riesling one night at Prime 112 in Miami years ago, now craves cabernet and, in a partnership with Napa’s acclaimed Pahlmeyer wine, started his own label, D Wade Cellars… During a November game against the Warriors in 2015, when [Chris Paul] was with the Clippers, he was bringing the ball up the court when he shouted to a man courtside. ‘Hey! You bring me any good wine?’ The man was Juan Mercado, founder of Realm Cellars in Napa. Then there’s Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony…” Here’s that link again.

#CoreValues – Chipotle’s new CEO is Taco Bell’s old CEO. Great? By my math at time of sending, Chipotle stock is up over 20% since the announcement.

Ear candy – Writer readers, if you have ever found yourself on the wrong end of a Shit Food Blogger tweet, feel free to get your (constructive criticism) knives out: the self-styled food media critic is now producing his own food media. Chris Thornton has teamed up with author Laurie Woolever on the new Carbface podcast. It’s not exactly tightly produced / edited – the first episode clocks in at almost an hour and a half of banter – but ICSTOL (I chuckled several times out loud). First guest: Jen Agg, who says critics no longer make or break a restaurant, but…

Counterpoint: Reviews still matter – Helen Rosner’s latest New Yorker pieceis mostly a summary of all the “How Should Critics Handle Accused Chefs?” articles lately, but it does add one interesting new point: “A friend close to [Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield’s LA Restaurant The Hearth & Hound] tells me that it was [Jonathon Gold’s recent] review, moral grappling and all, that brought the restaurant back from the brink of shutting down.”

Easy PR – Graydon Carter and Jeff Klein, the owners of the Monkey Bar in Midtown Manhattan since 2009, have installed David Tanis as the new chef… Mr. Tanis, who was the head chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., for many years and was also the chef at Cafe Escalera in Santa Fe, N.M., is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, where he writes the ‘City Kitchen’ column for the Food section.” Details guess where.

The close – Another closure for Rick Bayless this month, as LA’s Red O in Melrose shutters. “Employees began casually informing diners of the upcoming closure last weekend, and Eater confirmed those whispers last [week]. There is no firm timetable for the closure yet.”

The museum treatment – The NYT’s Ligaya Mishan has a great look at how Boba Guys founders Bin Chen and Andrew Chau, and Sunday Bird chef Deuki Hong, are handling their gig revamping the food at the Asian Art Museum in SF. “Mr. Hong, Mr. Chau and Mr. Chen, among other candidates, weren’t simply being invited to take over a cafe previously run by a corporate caterer. At stake was the future of food at a reimagined museum that is preparing to break ground on a $90 million transformation and seeking a new connection with the people of San Francisco.” No big whoop.

Last and least – Everyone knows VitaMix blenders are just overpriced kitchen phalli, but a young Eric Ripert felt the association wasn’t explicit enough, so he tweeted this picture (the last of the four). Do you see it now? DO YOU?

And that’s it for today. I hope you are all having a wonderful start to the Year of the Dog, unless you’re Chris Fischer and Amy Schumer. Paperless Post doesn’t “lose invitations”, guys. This isn’t 2009.

See you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or raffle-based investment opportunities to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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