The Family Meal – Friday, April 13th, 2018

Hello Friday the 13th,

Sure this is an old joke, but… Maybe the freaky thing about today will be that nothing unusual happens?

Let’s get to it…

Without Representation: The New York Times has not published a starred review of a kitchen led by a woman since November 7th, when Pete Wells reviewed Sen Sakana, where Mina Newman shares the executive chef title with male chef Taku Nagai. If you want sole leadership, you have to go back to Gabrielle Hamilton‘s Prune on September 19th of last year. (NB: Absolutely do not want to downplay Newman’s role here. She has led several big kitchens over the years, and is clearly described as Exec Chef on the restaurant’s website, with Nagai as Co-Exec. I only differentiate because of questions like: Does a kitchen run jointly by a woman and a man have a better chance at press, investment, hiring, etc. than a kitchen run solely by a woman?)

Not every review lists backers, but it was especially hard to find mention of female restaurant owners in the Times starred reviews. Wells gave a starred review to Pasta Flyer on January 23rd, for instance, and Nastassia Lopez is Mark Lardner’s partner there, but she is not mentioned in the article. (The only mention of a partner is in reference to marinara as “lively on its own and an agreeable partner for the meatballs”). Beyond that? Back to Prune.

I reached out to NYT Food editor Sam Sifton about this, and after a quick back and forth, he left his on the record response at: “Watch this space.” (Hyperlink his; goes to their home page). I also tried to reach out to Wells via Sifton, but didn’t hear back — understandable given my roundabout attempt. Still happy to hear from him, and give his thoughts space, if he’s reading this.

I’ll leave the numbers to speak for themselves, but will say I started thinking about this after reading Amanda Cohen’s piece last November, where she notes (among several other stats): “Over the past 12 months, The New York Times has written major reviews for 44 restaurants. Six of those kitchens are run by women.”

So far this year? None.

Lists I like: The numbers get much better in Food & Wine’s top 10 Restaurants of the Year 2018, where Rose Previte’s Maydan in D.C. takes the top spot. Rounding out the rest: Better Luck Tomorrow, Houston; Fairfax, NYC; Reems, Oakland, Superior Motors, Braddock, PA; Grand Cafe, Minneapolis; Voyager, Ferndale, MI; Kemuri Tatsu-ya, Austin; Junebaby, Seattle; and LASA in LA. Congrats, all!

The Tip Pool – The SF Chronicle’s Jonathan Kauffman talked to a handful of Bay Area chefs about the new nationwide tip pooling rules, and noted there had been a ton of confusion about how to decipher said rules until, “on Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a Field Assistance Bulletin confirming their interpretation.” Here’s the key section of that “Field Assistance BulletinRegarding Tip Pools and New Authority to Prevent Tip Theft” for reference:

“FAB 2018-3 confirms that employers who pay the full federal minimum wage may now allow non-traditionally tipped workers, such as cooks and dishwashers, to participate in tip pools. The FAB also confirms that WHD will immediately begin using its new enforcement tools to protect American workers’ tips—including by recovering all tips unlawfully kept by employers, and imposing liquidated damages and civil monetary penalties as appropriate.”

If you read “liquidated damages” in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, we are on the same page.

On the podcasts – Chefs Maya Lovelace (Mae, Portland) and Esther Choi (MokBar and Ms. Yoo, NYC) are on The Eater Upsell this week, talking raising money for new projects, and the pros and cons of bringing in partners, taking food hall cash, friends and family financing, and Kickstarter. Re the latter, a prominent Portland chef warned Lovelace: “Kickstarter is for kids with cancer, and people who need surgery.” She cleared her $75k goal with $10k to sparethis week.

Speaking of the partner route – In LA, “Chef Michael Voltaggio has pulled the plug on his La Cienega restaurant Ink.Well after just eight months, closing (at least for now) the place without so much as a social media notification… Reached for comment, Voltaggio tells Eater: Unfortunately, we had to suspend operations at ink.well indefinitely due to an impasse among our partners.”

The Suits – Wednesday headline in The New Orleans Advocate: “John BeshAlon Shaya reach settlement; legal feud ends with kind words, separate restaurants.” The agreement means Besh’s BRG Hospitality will keep operating Shaya under its former chef’s name, and Alon Shaya won’t have any claim on any of the other restaurants he led for BRG either. The “kind words” are a nice touch, but they’re only between “the BRG team” and Alon. No one mentions Besh.

The Suits too – After last week’s announcement that the vegan restaurant chain bearing her name raised $31M to keep growing without her, Eater NY reports chef Chloe Coscarelli “is asking for damages from By Chloe’s parent company ESquared Hospitality after it ousted her last year but kept using her name for massive expansions — claiming that ESquared’s CEO Jimmy Haber started to push her out after she rejected his ‘advances.’” She says she has “messages” to back that up. He says “the company is ‘disappointed by these public accusations from a disgruntled former partner’ and that it’s simply a smear campaign ‘to undermine the company and hurt its loyal employees.’”

For design fans – Here’s the Eater photo spread for Hotel San Franciscofrom Thomas GlenwrightPaul Schulte, and Priscilla Dosiou, who, in Dosiou’s own fighting words “saw a bit of a gap in the market for lively bar scenes.” Lotta brass and blue and instagram background walls / wall art (nothing says SF like Biggie in a crown), but all that work on style, and their booze display is front and center with the greatest hits of an airport lounge for some reason.

And if you’re a fan of work-in-progress shots, here’s La Vie in D.C.’s Wharf development, which was due in November, and is “now scheduled to arrive in May”. Place your bets.

The Opportunity  – Tell that friend who thinks they could do pro pastry: Netflix’s Nailed It is holding open auditions on social media (read: coercing hopeful bakers into a marketing campaign involving #NailedIt selfies and selfie cookies).

And last and least – This NYT mini-profile of a woman who “makes fancy ice cubes for a living” and exists within a ‘70s Vogue shoot is pretty fun. “I was recently in Asia, and they love corn.” Neat!

And that’s it for today. If you need me, I’ll be wandering the streets of Hong Kong looking for corn. #LikeALocal.

See you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

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

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