Somm consequences, Lettuce lead, Afram's Maydan, Kalanick's MBS BS, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, November 8th, 2019

Hello Friday,

Quick housekeeping note: While I’m in the Bay Area next week, the plan is to run around like crazy, hitting as many of your recommendations as possible. Between that and doing the work I’m actually there to do, Family Meal may be cut back or delayed. Apologies in advance, and greatly appreciate you all bearing with me!

Let’s get to it…

The Consequences – Following up on her earlier reporting, the NYT’s Julia Moskin now says “sommelier Anthony Cailan, who was a rising star in the wine world, has resigned from the downtown Manhattan hotel where he worked, after a New York Times report last week in which several women said he had sexually assaulted them.” On top of that, Wine & Spirits magazine, which had featured Cailan on its October cover for the Best New Sommeliers 2019 list, has added an asterisk next to his name, with an associated footnote that reads, “*As of November 7th, 2019, Anthony Cailan has been withdrawn from this list.”

And at Bon Appétit, wine editor Marissa A. Ross, who featured prominently in Moskin’s original story as the person who referred several of Cailan’s alleged victims to the Times, has her own related piece out in Healthyish this week. It gives a bit of the backstory to Ross’s role in uncovering the allegations, highlights some current anti-harassment programs and tools, and functions as one big call to action under the rallying headline: “To Make the Wine Industry Less Toxic, We Need to Get Loud.”

(P.S. - Not a dig at all, but strikes me how complicated “getting loud” can be when a prominent national food magazine has a big MeToo story, but passes their sources on to the NYT instead of covering it themselves.)

The Consequences Too – Meanwhile, per Eater Chicago’s Ashok Selvam, “One of the most high-profile partners at Chicago’s largest restaurant group, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, is no longer with the company. Executive Chef Doug Psaltis, who oversaw numerous LEYE restaurants — including its sceney and star-driven RPM division… has officially separated from the company… While LEYE didn’t provide the details behind Psaltis’s departure, three people who have worked at or are currently employed by LEYE told Eater that Psaltis attacked a colleague last week at RPM Steak in River North, grabbing and violently shaking him by the shoulders... According to sources, a security camera captured footage of the incident.”

The LEYE statement given to Selvam notes, “It is Lettuce Entertain You’s policy to not comment on personnel matters.” That’s cool. I have a lot of questions on leadership matters, especially after reading this: “Several former LEYE workers expressed little surprise over Psaltis’s departure to Eater. Some former employees shared a nickname for Psaltis that employees used behind his back to make light of his tendency to yell and curse at staff in public: ‘Doug Assault-is.’” When it comes as no surprise, there’s a problem at the top.

The Big Gig – In DC, “After two years under chefs Chris Morgan and Gerald AddisonMaydan owner Rose Previte is passing (the literal) torch to a new executive chef… Marcelle Afram, who spent the past five years leading the kitchen at Bluejacket, will take over the live fire restaurant by the end of the year. Like Morgan and Addison, Afram will also be charged with heading Previte's first restaurant, Compass Rose.” Laura Hayes has those details in WCP.

Michelin Season – Released on Wednesday, “The Michelin Guide Italy 2020… welcomes 30 new one-starred, two new two-starred and one new three-starred restaurants, making it the second most starred guide in the world.” That new three-star is Enrico Bartolini in Milan. Glam by Enrico Bartolini in Venice and La Madernassa (by someone else) in Guarene are the new twos. Press release and full list here.

The Podcasts – Food & Wine’s Communal Table podcast has host Kat Kinsman sitting down with the NYT’s Kim Severson this week, and it’s an interesting little look into some of the thinking at the Times food desk over the past couple of years. If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the origin stories and move on to the 23:50 mark, when Severson begins to get into the intricacies of reporting early MeToo stories, or jump further ahead to around minute 33:40, where she discusses that Batali comeback story that pissed so many people off. Start at either of those and stick with it as they move from Anthony Bourdain to Ted Bundy’s mom then back to Bourdain and on to “batshit crazy” Joni Mitchell. Lots going on there…

Shameless plug: At minute 108, Kinsman shouts out Family Meal and tells everyone they should subscribe. So, you know, tell your friends! All the cool kids (including you) are reading this.

That Blood $$$ – “Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund has pumped $400 million into Travis Kalanick’s new company CloudKitchens, according to people familiar with the situation, in a deal that could value the operator of so-called ghost kitchens at about $5 billion and reunites the former Uber chief with one of his biggest backers. The Saudi fund’s agreement with CloudKitchens was competed in January, the people said. It was the fund’s first known deal in Silicon Valley since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” The chairman of that Saudi fund is (checks official U.S. government notes) the murderer. Paywalled story from Rory Jones and Rolfe Winkler in the WSJ.

That Ad $$$ – Meanwhile, at UberEats, Josh Constine from TechCrunch reports, “Uber will become an ad platform, selling space inside its Eats app to restaurants hoping to lure in more food delivery orders… Selling ads could help it improve margins on Eats, where it only takes 10.7% of gross bookings as adjusted net revenue because it pays out so much to restaurants and drivers.” Wow. So greedy of you, restaurants and drivers. Share the wealth. Jeez.

Tell PR – The SF Chronicle has a new “New and Now List,” which is a bit of a beta (in the tech sense, folks!) Eater Heatmap. Get on it.

The Profile Treatment – Back to the NYT and Julia Moskin again for an updated profile of pastry chef Claudia Fleming, on the occasion of the re-issue of Fleming’s “cult, out-of-print cookbook, ‘The Last Course.’” Those unfamiliar with Fleming will find a CV full of big name restaurants, colleagues, and accomplishments. Those familiar can skim ahead to the last few paragraphs, where we learn that after years spent running an inn and restaurant on Long Island, and caring for her husband, chef Gerry Hayden as he dealt with and later died of ALS, Fleming, “is planning to sell the inn, moving back to New York City, and searching the menus of her culinary descendants for clues to her next act in pastry.”

The Critics – On Tuesday, I mentioned that Northern Virginia Magazine’s Stefanie Gans had quit her job as restaurant critic and editor, and written a goodbye note explaining her decision. The link to that note was broken, and now we know why. Reposting the piece on Medium, Gans says, “I wrote a goodbye essay to my readers, which listed some of my favorite meals and memories but also detailed the hardships — some universal, some particular to this job — of life as a working mom. My publisher ordered it to be taken down after 24 hours.” Cool cool cool.

And last but certainly not least – Hate to leave you on a sad note, but “Narayana Reddy, an Indian cook whose YouTube channel, Grandpa Kitchen, garnered more than six million followers with videos of him preparing gargantuan amounts of food to feed orphaned children and other hungry people, died on Oct. 27 in India…. Local news media reported that he was 73.” A brief obituary from Daniel Slotnick, with links to several of Reddy’s biggest hits, is here. Pro tip: You can leave his channel playing one video after another in the background while you write a newsletter, and it’s just as wonderful as watching. I assume.

And that’s it for today. I’ll see you Sunday night, San Francisco!

And I’ll see everyone else here sometime next week for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or only 10.7% of gross bookings as adjusted net revenue to If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, please chip in here. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!

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