The Family Meal – Friday, March 16th, 2018

Hello Friday,

First, some internal news: Family Meal is going to start including original content here and there, and I’d like to invite readers to make suggestions on what should be covered. If you have a good story I should chase or someone you think I should interview (shamelessness is fine):, or just hit reply.

And on that note: The Media – I reached out to WaPo Food editor Joe Yonana few days ago to ask him about the Washington Post’s launch of their ambitious new Voraciously site, and he graciously answered my questions. I don’t want to spoil the whole thing, but… “We have no plans for a podcast at this time.” Full interview here.

Beard season – The 2018 James Beard Award Nominees were announced Wednesday night. Full list and announcement here. Fun fact: Based on the new awards committee policies, these are all people who are deemed in the eyes of the judges to be good potential role models, or at the very least haven’t raised enough red flags to credibly suggest otherwise…

The NRA was quick to point out: “Of the 82 people nominated by [the Beard Foundation] this year, 39 were women, including… three out of five nominees for Outstanding Restaurateur.”

Special shout out to Birmingham’s Highlands Bar and Grill for hitting double digits with their 10th consecutive Outstanding Restaurant nomination!

Four of the big categories:

Best New Restaurant: The Charter Oak (St. Helena, CA); Empellón Midtown(NYC); Felix Trattoria (Venice, CA); JuneBaby (Seattle); Kismet (LA).

Outstanding Chef: Ashley ChristensenPoole’s Diner (Raleigh, NC); Gabrielle HamiltonPrune (NYC); David KinchManresa (Los Gatos, CA); Christopher KostowThe Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, CA); Donald LinkHerbsaint (New Orleans).

Outstanding Restaurateur: Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Chicago’s Boka Restaurant GroupJoAnn Clevenger, NOLA’s UpperlineKen Oringer, Boston’s UniLittle DonkeyToro, and others; Caroline Styne, LA’s The Lucques GroupEllen Yin, Philadelphia’s High Street Hospitality Group.

Outstanding Restaurant: Balthazar (NYC); Canlis (Seattle); Frasca Food and Wine (Boulder, CO); Highlands Bar & Grill (Birmingham, AL); Quince (San Francisco).

#metoo Seasons – Julian Niccolini, co-owner of NYC’s fabled Four Seasons, is getting ready for a big reopening in May, but the NY Post’s Steve Cuozzo reminds readers “there’s a cloud over the party: Niccolini pleaded guilty to an assault case involving a woman in 2016. And he has a long history of eyebrow-raising incidents, including a $4 million sexual-harassment suit that led to an unknown settlement in 1992… In the assault case, ‘Naughty Niccolini,’ as he once dubbed himself, was charged with sexual assault for groping a 28-year-old woman’s breasts and buttocks and severely bruising her back at a private party. The felony charge could have landed him in the clink for seven years, but he took a plea bargain in 2016.” Details here.

#metoo Redo – After reporting by Eater revealed that Eric Korsh had been repeatedly accused of sexual and managerial misconduct during his time with Union Square Hospitality Group, the chef and his new employer, Racines, have decided to part ways “by mutual agreement”, and “sous chef Mariana Mateos will be taking over until she leaves next month to open her own restaurant in the Loire Valley in France.”

This Family Meal is brought to you by World Central Kitchen‘s Dine N Dash event in Washington, D.C. On June 6th, join hosts José AndrésAndrew Zimmernand more for a tour of some of the District’s best restaurants. All proceeds support World Central Kitchen’s mission of creating smart solutions to hunger and poverty and providing chef-driven disaster relief. Tickets and more information here.

The Suits – Do you use Alsco? A restaurant owner in Aspen is trying to start a class action against the linen company for allegedly bumping up order minimums without asking. He says anytime he orders over his contracted minimum, the company sets a new level and keeps it there, forcing him to pay the difference from then on. Worth checking your invoices?

The location – NYC’s Cosme announced it was moving to LA a while ago, but they were tight-lipped about an address until Eater LA got confirmationWednesday that “Chef Enrique Olvera’s impressive modern Mexican specialty will take over a space on the hottest half-block in all of Los Angeles, right across the alley from Bestia in the Arts District.”

Those fast casual $$$ – In Manhattan, Rouge Tomate’s newest chef, Matt Aita is trying to create a little extra cash flow by turning part of the restaurant into an all-day, fast casual concept. “Called Rouge Tomate Cafe, the front portion of the restaurant at 126 West 18th St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues, will function as a more casual counter-service area.” Fresh breath or death throe? TBD. Details in Eater NY.

(Not) Wanted  – Someone has been putting up posters in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, proclaiming, “Sexual Predator Owns Tosca Café” above a picture of Ken Friedman. “North Beach citizens will not tolerate misogynist bullshit any longer!” – Poster poster.

The Opening – In D.C. José Andrés’s Minibar is looking for a new head chef. Per the Washingtonian, “Joshua Hermias, who’s lead the avant-garde kitchen and its 30-odd course menus since 2015, announced his departure via Instagram…. R&D Creative Director Chef Ruben Garcia, will continue to oversee the restaurant while a new Head Chef is identified.”

Cookbook dustup followup – After revoking the awards from its CEO due to (glaring in hindsight) conflict-of-interest, the IACP has named Dinner by Melissa Clark its General Category cookbook award winner, and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat its Cookbook of the Year. Woohoo?

And last and least – And I want to be clear here: This is definitely clickbait, but it is clickbait I did not regret clicking. Under the title, “Platypus milk: How it could combat superbugs”, the BBC reports that Australian scientists have discovered that the unique way in which platypus nurse their babies (“They don’t have teats, instead they concentrate milk to their belly and feed their young by sweating it out”) has given their milk antibacterial properties that we could potentially use in a post-antibiotic world. Or cocktails. Whichever.

And that’s it for today. If your restaurant is “celebrating” Saturday, I hope people tip as well at 8am as they do at 2am. Good luck out there.

And I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or unpasteurized platypus tummy sweat to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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