First, a reminder that if your PR strategy involves flattery, the James Beard Media Awards are tonight in New York. Full list of finalists here.
And a reminder that if you’re up for a James Beard Media Award, I am rooting for you, but there is no newsletter category, so the whole thing is a meaningless fraud.
Let’s get to it…
Trust the process? – The San Francisco Chronicle’s big Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants 2018 list is out, and after publishing an entire article ten days ago explaining why he wasn’t going to include Michelin 3-star Coi – its new chef “is still working to define and refine his own vision” – critic Michael Bauer opted to include restaurants from accused sexual harassers Michael Chiarello and Ken Friedman. (The latter’s defined and refined vision apparently included a “Rape Room” above The Spotted Pig in NYC.)
Here’s Bauer’s intro note: “A quandary for me this year has been how to handle the issue of sexual harassment in restaurants, including three in this list — Tosca Cafe and Coqueta in San Francisco, and Bottega in Yountville. Should I take a restaurant with an accused chef or owner out of the Top 100? Am I punishing the hard-working staff for transgressions of the owners? Ultimately, it’s up to the dining public to decide whether they want to support these restaurants.”
To which New Yorker author Helen Rosner responds, “Does Michael Bauer not think his Coi Sucks Now 2018 world tour doesn’t hurt the employees of Coi?”
Even Bauer’s coworkers are subtweeting him this week. Both wine critic Esther Mobley and food writer Justin Phillips retweeted a link to the original Ken Friedman expose soon after the list launched, and both Mobley and Food & Wine editor Paolo Lucchesi are highlighting their previous op-ed positionsrecommending shunning restaurants owned by these men.
Then there’s mutiny-by-silence: So far no Chronicle Food writers have promoted the list – arguably their section’s biggest annual product – on their personal social media as far as I can tell.
Awards Season – The World’s 50 Best award for Best Female Chef 2018goes to Clare Smyth (Core, London). Choose your headline: Bloomberg – “Top Female Chef Awarded to a Brit for the First Time”. WaPo (citing Dominique Crenn) – “The title of World’s Best Female Chef is ‘stupid.’ Just ask a woman who won it.”
P.S. As always when talking 50 Best, I am obliged to give a special shout out to their triple-diamond platinum sponsor: Coconut LaCroix.
Partner problems – Per Eater NY, Yves Jadot, “the man behind popular cocktail bars like Raines Law Room and Dear Irving has pulled out of four major new bar and restaurants — saying that his partners in the projects brought ‘bigotry and racism’ that he could no longer stand.” He details various accusations in a Facebook post that includes a screenshot of a text conversation with one partner. I’m no detective, but the barely blacked out name at the top sure looks like: Pinky Vaid.
Midwest moves – Chasing those hotel $$$ in St. Louis, “Gerard Craft… chef and restaurateur behind Pastaria, Sardella and Brasserie by Niche, has announced his next restaurant. Cinder House, featuring wood-fired cooking, is slated to open in August at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis.” Details in the STL P-D.
The Results –Nola.com’s look at Turkey & The Wolf’s past year of critical acclaim gives an interesting rundown on the individual (and probably cumulative) effect of national reviews. First, there was Bill Addison’s national Eater rave, after which: “Not all that much changed. The customers were still locals. The line was never that long.” Next, the James Beard long list: “We got busier… Not a lot busier, but a noticeable spike.” Then, Food & Wine’s unranked Best Restaurants of the Year list: “We noticed new people… People were coming in and taking pictures of the staff.” And finally, Bon Appetit’s top spot as the #1 Best New Restaurant in America: “By the end of that week, [Mason Hereford] promoted two cooks to sous chefs, making them managers. He ended dinner and started closing at 5 p.m. Salaries went up. More employees got health insurance.” It was, Hereford says, “the greatest thing that ever happened [to him]”.
#Metoo comes for “breastaurants” – The Chicago Tribune details a new lawsuit claiming servers at the Hooters-esque Twin Peaks chain were not only subjected to pre-shift body inspections, but management also trimmed the required attire to such an extreme that uniformed staff were cited by police for indecent exposure.
“Dear Mayor De Blasio, WE, the full-service restaurant operators of New York City, implore you to permit our establishments to include an optional surcharge on dining checks….” So begins a letter from Eleven Madison Park, Nobu, Daniel, The NoMad, and a couple hundred more NYC restaurants that was delivered in classic, oversized form to city hall on Wednesday. Details in the NY Post.
Creative prophylaxis – Eater has a fun, long(ish) read on the creative process behind each year’s Mugaritz menu out this week: “In an airy room on the third floor of the modern Bizkaia Aretoa building in Bilbao, just 350 meters from the renowned Guggenheim Museum, an array of dishes were displayed as if a part of their own museum exhibition… there were lamb brains surrounded by a goo made of oyster gel… petri dishes held fetuses that, on closer inspection, were made out of gelatin… there were edible condoms filled with a viscous white liquid made from viili yogurt.” Most, thankfully, did not make the cut.
And last and least – I have not listened to the entire first episode of The Dave Chang Show, so I can’t recommend it one way or another as a podcast, BUT I can recommend listening to the first 30 seconds to hear the mighty Dave Chang earnestly sell mattresses. Good for the soul.
And that’s it for today. Sending good thoughts to all you Beard nominees from out here in Seoul. Please remember to clearly spell out t-h-i-s-f-a-m-i-l-y-m-e-a-l dot com in your acceptance speeches. I’ll return the favor next year.
And I’ll see you back here Tuesday for next Family Meal.