The Family Meal – Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

Late edition today on account of I just got back from Seoul a few hours ago. Did you know that per capita, Seoul has only slightly fewer outdoor deep fryers than a Midwestern state fair? I did not. I am in pain.

Let’s get to it…

Awards season – The James Beard Media Awards were way back on Friday, so here are the winners in case you missed them. FYI, I didn’t miss them; they missed me.

A few selected winners for your reading list:

Profile Award: She Was a Soul Food Sensation. Then, 19 Years Ago, She Disappeared. Mayukh Sen on Princess Pamela;

M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award: Who Owns Uncle BenShane Mitchell on the “troubling and complicated” roots of rice in South Carolina Lowcountry;

And finally, Book of the Year: The Cooking GeneMichael Twitty’s “illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.” Link goes to Amazon ‘cause it’s a book.

And in LA, Jonathan Gold named his Restaurant of the Year yesterday: “No restaurant in years may have had quite the impact that Taco María and its chef Carlos Salgado have had on the Southern California scene.” Congrats!

Legally Speaking – The Houston Chronicle reports that, “legally speaking,[Paul Qui’s] troubles appear to be over.” His ex-girlfriend has declined to participate as a witness in his trial, so the domestic violence case against him is being dropped. Qui’s lawyer said this was all “just an unfortunate misunderstanding”. Here’s a link to the original accusations in case you misunderstood.

Hate to make this transition, but… speaking of domestic abuse – “It’s been nearly a year since highly acclaimed Chicago restaurant 42 Grams suddenly and unexpectedly closed, leaving diners, the media, and industry insiders wondering what happened. According to co-owner Alexa Welsh and court documents obtained by Eater Chicago, the restaurant shuttered after she was attacked by her ex-husband, 42 Grams chef and co-owner Jake Bickelhaupt.”

Bickelhaupt apparently assaulted Welsh with a bottle, and then that same night announced the restaurant was closing without consulting her. Welsh somehow managed to keep her cool (my distant, euphemistic reading of her emotional work; not based on first hand anything) and tried to keep customers, staff, and suppliers happy without directly mentioning the incident while she dealt with the fallout over the next several months. Well worth a read.

And a resource worth noting from the same article: “Welsh especially credits the support from Between Friends, a Chicago organization that provides court advocacy and counseling services to local victims of domestic violence, as crucial to her recovery.”

Also in Chicago – Unconfirmed, but per Fooditor: “Grace owner Michael Olszewski‘s new restaurant near Loyola, Onward, has done before opening what took Grace 5 years. Chef Gaetano Nardulli (who closed Barrington’s Near for the gig) is out and Olszewski’s now looking for 2 chefs for his places.”

The Critics – “After 15 years of monthly restaurant reviews in San Francisco magazine, readers will see less steady dining criticism from Josh Sens. The magazine will publish half as many reviews from the critic going forward, with one every other month.” Details in Eater SF.

The Critics Too – In a Twitter thread describing what he believes may be SF Chronicle critic Michael Bauer’s years-old grudge against him, Daniel Patterson points out that there are no working black chefs on Bauer’s recent Top 100 list: “Zero. How is this possible? For starters what about Tanya Holland, a highly trained chef whose Brown Sugar Kitchen is a local institution?” For starters.

For design fans – The results of Castaway’s $10M makeover in LA are in, and here’s the photo spread to prove they spent at least some of that money on the interior. It’s got a bit of an upscale-national-park-lodge look going, but kudos to the design team for not fully giving into the allure of the vaulted ceiling.

The Media – Eater is hiring a new Nashville Editor. (NB: Job description defines “Editor” as “a part-time reporter and writer”.)*

The Big Move – Per Eater SF, Chef-owner Pim Techamuanvivit is leaving Kin Khao to make her way to Thailand as “the newly appointed chef at Bangkok’s Nahm, ranked at number 28 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Techamuanvivit, a native of Bangkok, is taking over the restaurant from opening chef David Thompson, who is moving on ‘to other projects.’”

That scholarship $$$ – Heads up if you or someone you know is heading to culinary school soon: James Beard Foundation scholarship application materials are due May 15th. There are three versions available, and the National Scholars Program offers up to $20k.

And last and least – Chef, writer, radio host (and more) Evan Kleiman had one of her recipes featured in The Simpsons this week. So, you know, Beards shmeards.

And that’s it for today. If you need me, I will be laying down for the next 36 hours, not regretting a damn thing I ate in Korea, thank you very much.

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

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

*Updated to remove snarky editorializing that implied this was a sign of the falling fortunes of food journalism. Eater has been filling their lead roles in smaller markets with part timers since 2007.

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