The Family Meal – Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

It is officially spring at 12:15 EDT today. Throw on a t-shirt and head outside, East Coast!

But first, the (industry) news…

The Accused – Washington, D.C.’s “Mike Isabella, the head of a $30 million culinary empire based in the nation’s capital, was sued Monday by a former top manager who claims that Isabella and his partners repeatedly sexually harassed her in the workplace. The lawsuit from Chloe Caras, filed in D.C. Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages from the ‘Top Chef’ alum, his company Mike Isabella Concepts (MIC) and four of his business partners: Taha IsmailYohan AllenderGeorge Pagonis and Nicholas Pagonis.” Details in the Washington Post include several corroborating witnesses and at least one other on-the-record claim of harassment.

Lawyers for the MIC team denied everything, and provided reporter Danielle Parquette with a list of female employees happy to serve as character witnesses. Isabella also released a statement threatening to go tit for tat on Caras’ plan to use saved texts and group chats as evidence against the chef:

“Ms. Caras engaged in the very same banter, language, and horseplay that she now claims created a hostile working atmosphere. MIC has the same, if not many more, of these text messages, incidents, and write-ups of serious misconduct at work, to show that Ms. Caras’ portrayal as a victim is, again, untrue.”

Also to be submitted into evidence: MIC cocktail lists. Caras alleges Isabella and his partners named cocktails like “The Crossing Guard” and “You Strong” to “commemorate their sexual exploits with prostitutes in Europe.”

Before WaPo published, Isabella sent out a pair of since deleted tweets late Sunday night. One said in part, “Never had so much support in my life… We will fight till the end.” If the latter is true, brace yourself for screenshots.

P.S. – Fallout has begun: Isabella’s name and photo have been removed from alongside José Andrés and Andrew Zimmern on Andrés’ Dine N Dashwebsite (a sponsor).

Free lunch – Kudos to Grubhub’s PR team for getting multiple news outlets to parrot the line that their new partnership with Yelp will “drive down delivery costs” via economies of scale. And a special shout-out to their CEO, who actually said this: “I see a point where we could conceivably have extremely low if not free delivery for consumers,” and got away with it. I hear he is also a member of an innovative music club that sells 12 compact discs for just 1 penny!

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 Pastrymen – The final lineup and trailer for Chef’s Table: Pastry is out, and the chefs are: Christina TosiWill GoldfarbJordi Roca, and Corrado Assenza. If you’re counting at home, that’s one woman, three men, all white. In pastry. Freelance journalist Adam Robb says a Chef’s Table producer told him “they just couldn’t find a second woman with a compelling narrative.” Oh.

Closure – NYT headline: “David Chang’s Má Pêche and Danny Meyer’s North End Grill Announce Closings”. NYT details: Eight year old Má Pêche will close June 13th; six year old North End Grill to shutter by end of year. And over on Eater NY: “Prominent TV chef Jose Garces is closing his Battery Park City restaurant Amada, to be replaced by growing seafood chain Seamore’s.”

Offshore debt – Per The Caterer: “It has emerged that Jamie Oliver’sBarbecoa brand collapsed last month owing £6.7m to creditors. The total includes £3.7m owed to HSBC as part of its overdraft facility and £3m to unsecured creditors… The unsecured creditors include Westminster City Council Piccadilly, owed £493,382; Land Security Nova, owed £481,924; Tekene Shopfitting, £65,048; Daily Fish supplies, £34,699; and £34,613 to Natoora – a London-based fruit and vegetable grower.”

Point / Counterpoint – Point: “A senior figure who left in frustration said: ‘[Oliver’s brother-in-law and company CEO] Paul Hunt is an arrogant, incompetent failure. He knows virtually nothing about restaurants and even less about publishing. He’s running the business into the ground and the day he resigns the staff should have a big party.” Counterpoint: “Nonsense.” – Jamie Oliver.

Last and definitely least – Accurate headline: “People can’t stop watching this woman completely crush her male opponent in a cotton candy–eating contest.” Also: RIP cotton candy-eating competitions.

And that’s it for today. Remember, no matter what a Netflix producer tells you, you have a compelling narrative. Unless you are a Netflix producer. Then it’s case by case.

I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or £35k in unsecured, vegetable-based lines of credit to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

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