The Family Meal – Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

There are only two items in my twitter feed right now: the Singapore Summit and Anthony Bourdain.

The menu for the former has been released. Meh.

The tributes and obits for the latter keep rolling in, but if you deal with death like I do, you may want some comic relief before we get started on those. Won’t you please join me in the comments section for a moment?

My top picks so far –

Eyes of the world: “Tony had a true disdain for the Grateful Dead, he was a headbanger from the get go. Nonetheless, I admired him.” – dhil.

On demand: “I just like the guy…the TV guy. Never read his book.” – Boregard.

The final concession: “Apparently I have missed something about eating. As I have aged (pushing 82) I have simplified my diet by consuming Safeway sandwiches instead of cooking for myself. And such sandwiches contain meat, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and bread. Seems like a complete feed to me. And then I have been seeing more of this Bourdain fellow eating and drinking on TV, taking up space for other stuff that I would like to watch. Apparently he was a nice guy and I’ll give him that.” – Jim.

Film buff to film buff: “If Anthony Bourdain were to have replaced an Hero in any Movie, it would be this Movie. [Link to the trailer for Steven Seagal’s ‘Under Siege’]” – Peter.”

Honest Sue: “I was terribly attracted to him.” – Susan.

Heroic empathy regardless: “I had no idea Bourdain came from a wealthy background, I thought he was a working class kid. Regardless, condolences to the family and may he know peace.” – Lynn.

The view from Bryn Mawr: “Huge blow. Don’t see many Vassar students trying to do what he did.” – Anthony.

And finally, who was Anthony Bourdain, really? “Anthony Bourdain was to food as Lou Reed was to music.” – AMH. “He was the Socrates of the culinary world.” – Olga. “You were the David Bowie of the culinary world.” – Bertie. “He was the best person to come out of New Jersey.” – VLB from Pennsylvania.

Ok, let’s get to it…

The tributes – Many, many writers and friends have published their personal takes on Tony and his passing. A small sample: Helen Rosner (“Write this down: I’m a fucking feminist.”); David Simon (Did you know he and Bourdain had shopped around a CIA in the Cold War series together that never got network backing?); Tim Carman (“I wasn’t a friend to Tony, but he was always friendly to me.”); Mallika Rao (“Anthony Bourdain Was the Best White Man”); Daniel Patterson (“For cooks all over the world, this one hurts.”), and finally Rose McGowan “on behalf” of Asia Argento with a piece that sadly makes it sound as if Asia is nervous people will blame her somehow, and also includes this difficult detail: “I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor’s advice.”

In the physical world: Fans turned the old Les Halles on Park Avenue into a makeshift memorial, while at Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune, mirrors were covered and the receipts read “RIP To Our King” this weekend.

The non-Bourdain food news was understandably slow over the weekend, but…

That hotel $$$ –  In Sonoma, Geoffrey Zakarian “is playing a pivotal role in the sprawling, nearly $20 million redesign of one of Wine Country’s most historic properties — the MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa.” He got the contract to “coordinate the opening of three separate concepts at MacArthur Place by 2019: an upscale Mediterranean restaurant called Layla serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; the Bar at MacArthur, which will have a lounge vibe with cocktails, beers and a simple all-day menu; and a coffee bar and marketplace called the Porch.” Details and design renderings in the Chronicle.

The Lists – The World’s 50 Best org is out with their runner up list again this year. Eater says stateside, “The U.S. saw two restaurants join the 51-100 list: Le CoucouDaniel Rose and Stephen Starr’s fancy French hotspot, debuting at 85, and Single ThreadKyle Connaughton’s ambitious tasting-menu spot in Healdsburg, joining the list at 91.” Meanwhile Atelier Crenn – last year’s #83 – is conspicuously missing from this lower half of the list…

P.S. Congratulations to 50 Best premier sponsor (as far as you know) Coconut LaCroix on another refreshing PR coup!

The Media – Eater SF is looking for a part time restaurant reporter.

More sad news – “One of the founding fathers of Miami’s cocktail scene, New York native John Lermayer (Sweet Liberty) forever changed the landscape of South Florida bars when he opened the Delano’s Florida Room.” He died last Wednesday at 45.

The departure – In D.C., Rob Rubba has left Hazel, the restaurant he founded under Neighborhood Restaurant GroupPer Eater DC, “Rubba says he’ll do some traveling this summer — noting that he’s working with chef pals on ‘some exciting pop-ups around the country.’” So… off to talk with some investors?

And last but not least – For my media readers: If you wrote something about Bourdain and said that his big break came when he “sent an unsolicited manuscript” to the New Yorker and they accepted it, you are doing readers a disservice. According to the guy who published that manuscript, the full truth is Bourdain’s mom, Gladys Bourdain, who worked as a copy editor at the New York Times, personally passed on his now famous “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” essay to her co-worker Esther Fein, who passed it on to her husband, New Yorker editor David Remnick, saying, “Do me a favor and be polite to Ms. Bourdain.”

That fact does not / could not in any way lessen Bourdain’s work or success, and I’m not saying it needs to be shunted into every last piece about his career path, but it is an important detail to include for the many struggling writers – and cooks – out there attaching .doc lotto tickets to emails every day. People get little legs up in life. Let’s be honest about them.

And that’s it for today. Phew.

I’ll see you here Friday for Family Meal.

P.S. I’m headed to Beijing tomorrow and grateful for recommendations if you have them!

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

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