PPP Public, Miami down, Kwame out, ICC ICE, Uber buys, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Hello Tuesday,

Let’s get to it…

The Relief – Data / financial miners, your time has come. Paycheck Protection Program loan records are now public. I tried to comb through them a bit for this newsletter, but the csv file is massive and slowed my poor old laptop to a crawl. If yours is a bit faster, a fun trick is to filter the Business Name column for “restaurant” or “hospitality” and watch the names roll in… Have fun on the coal face!

The ReClosing – Shocking no one in Florida: “Miami-Dade County restaurants must close dining rooms and gyms must shut down again this week under a planned emergency order Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Monday as he continues to retreat from a May reopening plan that’s been unable to prevent a surge in new COVID cases.” Douglas Hanks, Samantha Gross, and Carlos Frías have the details in the Herald.

The Departure – Chef Kwame Onwuachi is leaving Kith/Kin, the restaurant he created at DC’s Intercontinental Hotel. He shared the news on Instagram yesterday, and the hotel says the restaurant will live on without Onwuachi. No word on where he’ll land next, but I’ll note that while he told the Washington Post’s Emily Heil he wouldn’t comment beyond the official statement, he sure did seem to have some time for Pete Wells in the NYT

The Delivery Wars – “Uber has agreed to acquire the food delivery start-up Postmates for $2.65 billion as it aims to expand its presence in on-demand food delivery while its core ride-hailing business struggles. The companies announced the all-stock deal [link goes to press release] on Monday morning. Uber will combine Postmates with its own food delivery subsidiary, Uber Eats, which has been growing during the coronavirus pandemic. Postmates will continue to operate under its own name.” Lots of helpful numbers in the write-up from Mike Isaac, Erin Griffith, and Adam Satriano in the NYT, including these pie slices: “Together, Postmates and Uber Eats would have a 37 percent share of food delivery sales in the United States, according to Edison Trends, which tracks credit card spending. DoorDash would remain the largest player with 45 percent, while Grubhub would have 17 percent.” And NB: “Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, said Uber might integrate certain Postmates services, including its $9.99-per-month subscription that provides no-fee delivery on any orders over $12.”

The Higher Ed – “By the end of the year the International Culinary Center, formerly the French Culinary Institute, will close its doors in SoHo and will become part of the Institute of Culinary Education in the Brookfield Place complex in Battery Park City.” Details via Florence Fabricant, who says the deal was signed Monday.

The Media Whetstone founder Stephen Satterfield announced on a Black Book Zoom panel Sunday (no recording yet) that he is launching online articles and accepting pitches for a new web-based side of his previously print-focused venture. (Satterfield later confirmed on Twitter.) Details TK.

The Deluge – Journalists continue to speak their minds about former LA Times food editor Peter Meehan, with critic Patricia Escárcega calling Meehan’s tenure a “reign of misery” on Twitter, and staff writer / video host Lucas Kwan Peterson adding maybe the most specific, serious allegation so far in his own big Twitter thread Saturday: “Last year, a colleague told me that Peter put his hand up her dress more than once during a social outing… I confronted Peter the day after the incident, but he was possibly too drunk to remember, or care. He ended up apologizing to, of all people, me.”

One person many have been waiting to hear from is Meehan’s Lucky Peach co-founder David Chang, who offered sincere sounding apologies on a 7-minute, unscheduled mea-culpodcast over the weekend, but said that he couldn’t fully discuss the allegations because, “I signed a non-disparagement agreement that prevents me from saying anything negative about Peter or his management of Lucky Peach.” (FWIW, the rumor-mill tells me that non-disparagement agreement he’s talking about dates back to at least a few years before the actual demise of Lucky Peach and is between Chang and Meehan personally. Presumably, it goes both ways?)

The Means – With a lot of these allegations now at least partially fleshed out publicly, I am very curious about how people feel about how we got to this point. I reached out to OP Tammie Teclemariam to ask her both why she decided to publish her scoops on Twitter instead of going the more "traditional" route (i.e. pitching these allegations to news outlets), and whether (especially in light of LAT claims that she may have gotten a few details wrong in her rush to publish) the ends justify the means.

Her response in full:

“I guess I just wanted to make sure he got fired as quickly as possible. I found out Friday night and immediately started asking around and was impressed by the number and severity of accounts. It just felt extremely urgent that he stop. Twitter has to be the way when everyone is terrified and bound by NDAs. These people have gone to HR and been ignored. There is no time for whatever happens via traditional routes. You have to put the accounts in everyone’s face just for their employer to have a meeting about it. Just read the language of people’s accounts. This man was a terrorist. Someone called [Meehan] 100x worse than [Adam Rapoport], and the number of responses I got thanking me afterwards was proportional to that. He did a LOT of damage.”

Thoughts?

Hometown Check-in: Some Sad News Per the Post-Dispatch back where I was born and raised, “Famed St. Louis restaurateur Charlie Gitto Sr., who established along with his wife [Annie] several restaurants that left an indelible mark on the St. Louis dining scene, has died. He was 87. Gitto died peacefully Saturday, according to a post on the Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill Facebook page.”

For the Bar: The Opportunity – Brewmaster Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery on Twitter yesterday: “Today I am pleased to announce the formation of the Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling (MJF). The MJF [named in honor of drinks writer Michael James Jackson] will fund scholarship awards to predominantly people of color within the brewing and distilling industries or who wish to join those industries.” (Italics mine, furloughed bar folk!) “The MJF scholarship awards will fund brewing and distilling education, whether beginning or ongoing, for BIPOC within the professions. Each scholarship granted to a student will be matched with a BIPOC mentor and/or peer within the industry.” Oliver says he’s going to start raising funds in earnest on July 15th, and invites you to “WATCH THIS SPACE” (his twitter) for details to come.

And last and least – Missed this earlier, but shout out to whatever huckster came up with the “Freedom to Breath Agency,” and started selling fake, government-esque licenses permitting the bearers to avoid wearing face masks during the pandemic. Nothing screams FREEDOM like an official permit!

And that’s it for today.

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

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a non-disparagement agreement that prevents me from saying anything negative about Peter to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. 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

Meehan out, Edge stays, Critics stay home, Blackbird closed, Velez moves, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Hello Friday,

Let’s get to it…

The Relief – On Tuesday, “less than four hours before the Paycheck Protection Program was scheduled to end with more than $130 billion in loan money unspent, the Senate approved extending the application period until Aug. 8.” The NYT’s Emily Cochrane reports all 100 senators agreed on the extension, which now goes to the House and then the President for approval.

The ReClosures – As expected in New York: “With the coronavirus spreading rapidly in other large states like California, Florida and Texas, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that New York City would not resume indoor dining at restaurants next week as anticipated.” Details via Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferré-Sadurní in the NYT. And sticking to the coasts… in LA, Farley Elliott had the scoop for Eater LA with this headline Wednesday: “Gov. Newsom to Order Immediate Closure of LA Restaurant Dining Rooms for Next Three Weeks” and then followed it up with details post-announcement: “The news means that restaurants and bars in nearby Orange County, Riverside County, Kern County, San Bernardino County, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County must all close for dine-in service immediately, though restaurants may still offer outdoor dining as well as takeaway and delivery. Business with bar-only licenses must close completely, unless they have partnered with an approved and licensed food vendor to serve food along with drinks.”

For state by state details on what’s opening and closing, check out this nifty NYT interactive map, including COVID stats and graphs around the effects of stay-at-home orders. A stats and visuals interpretation of the nightmare.

What Guests are Reading – A ton of critics and food writers have come out with stories this past week or so, all saying more or less the same thing: I don’t think it’s safe to go to restaurants. Bon Appetit’s Joseph Hernandez collected several in a handy twitter thread, and I hope he won’t mind me cribbing that here to give you direct links to the takes from: Tejal Rao, NYT (“I’m Not Ready to Go Back to Restaurants. Is Anyone?”); Hanna Raskin, Post & Courier (“If you’re on the fence, your best bet is to hop off, head home and order takeout.”); Soleil Ho, SF Chronicle (“I’m still just cooking at home.”); Ryan Sutton, Eater NY (“Stick to takeout. I make that suggestion with a heavy heart… COVID-19 wrecked my body — I lost 10 pounds in a week.”); Bill Addison, LA Times (“I thought about our server at Mastro’s in his face shield, and the ethics of him potentially risking his life to serve me a steak… I stopped making more plans to eat in restaurants.”); and Andrew Ross, Portland, ME Press Herald (“As much as I trust Maine chefs and restaurant owners to be vigilant about their hygiene and safety practices, it’s customers who have me worried.”).

For the more pro-go note there was Tim Carman in the Washington Post (“[Restaurants] give us license to eat too much, drink too much and, somewhere along the way, reconnect with the better angels of our nature. We just need to make sure our better angels wear a mask, keep their distance and tip our servers well.”). But that was a week and a half ago, and the graphs they keep a changing…

The Media – Tweet from (now former) LA Times Food editor Peter Meehan on Wednesday: “I’m leaving the LA Times. Tweets Monday alleged a number of things I don’t think are true, but they also compelled my staff to speak out. In my tunnel-vision commitment to making the best thing we could, I lost sight of people and their feelings. That is a terrible failing on my part. I offer actual sincere non-PR apologies to all of them and to anybody who my approach to editing and management hurt.”

Those “tweets Monday” are obviously this big thread from Tammie Teclemariam, which began in part, “It doesn’t give me any pleasure to do this unless the person actually gets fired.” So… result?

As for the staff speaking out, at least two people who have worked under Meehan have now posted allegations of their own on Twitter. Writer Rachel Khong, who worked with him at Lucky Peach, cited “lack of boundaries, casual racist and misogynist comments, psychological abuse” and more, while Ben Mims, cooking columnist under Meehan at LAT Food, called Meehan’s apology “an embarrassment,” and described “the culture of fear, intimidation, and retaliation that traumatized our whole team.” And on Facebook, Noelle Carter also pointed a finger at managing editor Kim Yoshino for not taking complaints about Meehan seriously.

Meanwhile, at the Southern Foodways Alliance… Not stepping down this week is John T. Edge, who responded to Kim Severson’s Monday NYT piece aggregating calls for his resignation with his own post on Twitter, saying he promises to “listen, absorb, reflect, and act,” and make “a future change in SFA leadership.”

FYI: Tunde Wey and Stephen Satterfield, two prominent voices calling for Edge’s resignation, will be joining a Black Book Zoom talk on “De-colonising the food industry: Food News, Media & Magazines.” July 5th, 8:30AM EST. See you there.

The Media Too – On a more positive note, the Washington Post has hired Daniela Galarza as a staff writer. A win for Joe Yonan, and I hear she is accepting pitches on soft-lens profiles of newsletter writers you know, so win win win?

The Move – In DC, a big get for Rose Previte as pastry chef Paola Velez announced last night that she was leaving Kwame Onwuache’s Kith/Kin to become exec pastry chef at Compass Rose and Maydan. Velez brings with her both growing name recognition and lots of organizing talent, having recently raised over $1.8M as part of the Bakers Against Racism group she co-founded while furloughed. (Close readers of her departure tweets can see if they notice anything missing, and please tell me why they think that might be…).

The Close – ICYMI (like I did), the big news from Phil Vettel in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday: “The coronavirus claimed its highest-profile Chicago restaurant victim to date, with word that Blackbird was closing for good after more than 22 years as one of the area’s finest restaurants.”

The Opportunities – Just posted the screenshot for this on twitter, but at some point during Tom Colicchio and Eric Rivera’s tête-à-tête on IG live earlier this week, John Tesar jumped into the comments to say re the current climate: “I have already been offered landlord funded second generation spots with landlord funding for cash flow.”

Anyone else getting similar offers? The spoils of plague, I suppose?

And last but not least: For Design Fans – With few restaurants opening lately, it’s been a while since we checked in on design! I know some restaurant critics are saying we shouldn’t mention anything negative during these difficult times, so I’ll just say: I love the curving patterned floor at The Flamingo in Vegas, in part because it’s somehow very busy, and still not busier than the walls… And speaking of walls, I like that the sliding concrete door that matches the bare cinderblock walls at Provender Hall in Dallas appears to have just enough room under it for me to slide beneath as I escape whatever danger is surely going to occur in that stripped brick room “out back” (no idea actual location, but “out back” fits)… And speaking of floors and bricks, shout out to whoever decided on those white stripes on the brick floors at Mírame in LA! Genuinely a fan of the way it both brightens things up, and lets its more natural floormates shine.

See, I can be positive!

And that’s it for today!

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or landlord funding for cash flow to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. 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

PPP deadline, Food Media mirrors, Pauses and stops, Roman live, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Hello Tuesday,

LOTS to get to today.

Let’s get to it…

The Relief – Headline in Bloomberg: “Over $100 Billion in U.S. Virus Relief Loans Left Unclaimed.” Story from Mark Niquette: “the Paycheck Protection Program had more than $100 billion in funding left as of last Saturday, with only days remaining until the SBA stops taking new applications on June 30…. The program, designed for the 30 million U.S. businesses that have fewer than 500 employees, has stalled since mid-May, leaving about $128 billion available as of June 20, according to the SBA. Whatever remains after the final applications are processed will be returned to the Treasury unless Congress acts to re-purpose them.” Niquette reports some reps are suggesting extending the PPP lending deadline toward the end of the year, but hard not to notice that that surplus number is eerily close to the $120B the Independent Restaurant Coalition has been lobbying Congress for

The Reclosing – Headline in the NYT: “Alarmed by Sun Belt Spike, N.Y. and N.J. Reconsider Pace of Reopening. The New Jersey governor postponed plans to allow indoor dining this week, and New York officials are considering a similar pause.” Details via Mihir Zaveri: “New York City has been scheduled to enter Phase 3 of its reopening on July 6, which would have allowed restaurants and other establishments to serve patrons indoors if they cut their capacity in half and followed various other restrictions… But at a news conference on Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that officials were now considering whether indoor dining could restart safely in the city and that he would make a decision on Wednesday.”

The crux of the matter is indoor spaces, and Zaveri cites 70 infections connected to one Michigan bar as one prime example of the problem with indoor gatherings. Seventy is bad, but… it’s gotten worse. Per Eater Detroit’s Brenna Houck, “As of Saturday, June 27, the Ingham County Health Department has identified 85 positive COVID-19 cases linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, located near the Michigan State University campus. By Monday, June 29 that number had grown to 107 positive cases.”

I won’t go state by state through all the reopening pauses and retreats, but if you bought inventory, re-hired staff, made capital improvements, or spent funds on anything else in anticipation of now delayed re-openings in your state, I suggest sending copies of those bills to the official US Government Shitshow Reimbursement Dept. at 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480. They owe you some money.

The Media – “They say he is a kingmaker. They say he is a white man — however charming — who has too much power over who tells the story of food in a region where so much of the cuisine was created by enslaved people.” That’s the NYT’s Kim Severson writing about John T. Edge, “head of the influential Southern Foodways Alliance,” in a piece last night about all the people calling for his resignation. The “they” there is a collection of voices from within and without the SFA — including friends of Edge — and to be clear, the question of his departure appears to be one of when not if. There is a lot of background here and too many voices to go one by one, so I’ll just say the whole thing is worth a read. (And I have an essay’s worth to say about it if I can ever find the time, the jumping off point of which is the fact that the NYT’s white food correspondent living in Atlanta hashtagged her post of this particular article about when “the ground shifts under the feet of the establishment” with #stayuncomfortable….)

NB: Tunde Wey, whose recent discussion with Edge was described by Severson as “the match that ignited the current debate over Mr. Edge’s leadership,” was none too impressed with the NYT piece, describing it on Instagram as “white face-saving masquerading as objectivity.” (Severson responded on Twitter: “Tunde’s gonna Tunde”).

And elsewhere in the food media self-policing world, Tammie Teclemariam (the writer most recently known for calling attention to that Adam Rapoport brownface photo) posted a long thread on twitter, accusing LA Times Food editor Peter Meehan of multiple instances of harassment back in his Lucky Peach days, as well as alleged journalistic incompetence while taking a $300k salary to edit LA food coverage from his home in NY. And Illyanna Maisonet, who previously posted her pitch rejection from Rapoport at Bon Appetit (prompting Teclemariam’s posting of the brownface photo and the subsequent allegations leading to his resignation), has now posted another editorial dispute, this time with Tara Duggan of the SF Chronicle.

The Profile Treatment – In Eater SF, Mayukh Sen makes the case to keep Elka Gilmore’s name in bright lights alongside male contemporaries like Jeremiah Tower and Gary Danko. “She made her biggest splash with Elka, a Franco-Japanese restaurant she opened with Traci Des Jardins in 1991 in Japantown. Elka was a dazzling showcase for both women’s artistry…. She followed her namesake restaurant with the short-lived Liberté and Oodles before receding from the limelight in the aughts. Gilmore, who died in San Francisco last July at 59 after a flurry of health problems, became one of Bay Area dining’s most recognizable names in the 1990s. She found success while being open about her queerness and championing fellow queer, female culinary voices… Gilmore’s queerness mattered — and still matters today — precisely because her work gave permission to other chefs who followed.”

The Delivery Wars – “Uber has made a takeover offer to buy Postmates, the upstart delivery service, according to three people familiar with the matter, as the on-demand food delivery market consolidates and Uber looks for new ways to make money.” Details via Mike Isaac and Erin Griffith in the NYT.No numbers yet, but a reminder: “Uber held merger talks this year with GrubHub…. Those talks fell apart after the two companies could not come to agreement on a price… GrubHub was eventually bought by Just Eats, a European food delivery service, for $7.3 billion in June.” Personally, I just hope whatever banks are handling these mergers make sure to tack on an appropriate service fee, transfer fee, delivery fee, technology fee, and surge pricing multiple. Only fair.

The Ghosts in the Cloud – Ghost kitchens got the full New Yorker treatment this week via Anna Wiener. I did not get a chance to read the whole thing yet (the full New Yorker treatment is a lot), but here’s a totally random grab quote from a quick scan: “He and his wife, the restaurateur Jen Pelka, repaired to their country home in Sonoma County.” Any piece with “repaired to their country home” in it is clearly a relatable-ly written piece for these trying times… enjoy!

And last but not least – As your PR advisor, I highly recommend you DO NOT do as Alison Roman did and go on Ziwe Fumudoh’s IG Live interview show. But as the devil sitting on your sinister side, I highly recommend you DO go on. There you can impale yourself on tough questions like: “Name 5 Asian people.” And say things like “There were no black people at Bon Appetit while I worked there” only to be corrected by New Yorker writer Doreen St. Felix in the comments (“I interned at bon app for three months and literally worked WITH her when she was there.”).

Maybe you think you’ll come off charming! And maybe you will in the moment! But I can assure you the written version (“could only name two Asians”) will not properly convey the cute frown-smile you make on camera.

Bites lower lip, raises eyebrows, smirks: “And that’s it for today.”

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

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or about $128 billion available as of June 20 to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. 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

Unending incidents, Tien departs, Chang disposes, SevenRooms raises, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, June 26th, 2020

Hello Friday,

Do I have good news for you today or what?!

Or what.

Let’s get to it…

The Incidents – It boggles the mind not that this stuff happens, but that it is happening now and in public. I know that’s a flawed prism to view this stuff through, but… a quick sample of things I read this week:

The GM at Seattle’s Momiji called a woman the n-word in an incident that, per Eater’s Gabe Guarente, “took place in the area now known at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), a community that formed during Seattle’s protests against police brutality and racial injustices.” It also took place right in front of the restaurant and on camera.

Meanwhile, WaPo’s Emily Heil reported Tuesday, “A Baltimore restaurant group [Atlas] that has previously been accused of creating dress codes targeting nonwhite customers has apologized after a black woman posted a video showing a white manager refusing to seat her and her son because he said the boy violated a ban on athletic wear. The footage of the incident at Ouzo Bay in Baltimore’s Harbor East… showed the boy’s mother pointing out a similarly dressed white boy whose family had been served.”

And in Portland, OR, Alex Frane reports on Eater that after restaurateur John Gorham thought he’d discovered who vandalized his catering vans, he went on a tear of angry, vigilante Facebook posts, eventually posting “photos of [the woman’s] vehicle with the license plate displayed, adding the caption, ‘maybe something should accidentally happen to it’ and misgendering her. In direct Facebook Messenger messages to her, the restaurateur threatened violence using a transphobic slur.”

Ugh.

The Departure – In DC, “Chef Kevin Tien has left Capitol Hill restaurant Emilie’s.” A bit of a strange one because, as Jessica Sidman writes in the Washingtonian,“This is the second time within a year that Tien has split with a restaurant he helped build. The chef earned a name and James Beard nod for himself at tiny Petworth hotspot Himitsu, but gave up his ownership stake last summer to focus on Emilie’s—a bigger and more ambitious project.” A lot of people are wondering if this isn’t a COVID split. Per Sidman, Tien wanted to wait for a vaccine to keep staff safe and preserve the feel of the space. “Now, however, the dining room and outdoor patio are slated to open within two weeks.”

The Procedure – If you’ve heard Dave Chang talk about restaurants during the pandemic at all, you will be familiar with his “How will chefs taste things while wearing masks???!!” refrain. Welp, here’s the answer for Momofuku, in the form of a two page “Tasting Procedure” paper (part of the larger Momofuku SOP package released a week or so ago). Good thing we got rid of plastic straws, because… “All food tasting vessels and utensils must be single-use/disposable,” and “A Taster must wear appropriate safety equipment while tasting (face shield, gloves, etc.) and immediately dispose of them after tasting.” Big savings on soap and water there!

The Money – Impressive that VCs keep placing big bets on restaurant tech to help save the day (read: make bank) in this big pandemic mess, especially as their customers (restaurants) are still so broke. Per I-Chun Chen in the NY Biz Journal: “SevenRooms has raised $50 million in financing that it will use to expand its platform…. The series B funding round was led by Providence Strategic Growth.”

The Media – Headline in Business Insider: “Condé Nast has suspended a Bon Appétit video editor amid an internal investigation.” Rachel Premack has the story, which so far points to this tweet from It’s Alive! editor Matt Hunziker (“Hunzi!”) as the reason for his suspension: “Why would we hire someone who’s not racist when we could simply [checks industry handbook] uhh hire a racist and provide them with anti-racism training...” In other words, he was critical of Condé Nast for its lackluster diversity work, and got suspended for it. So… Seems like corporate management is doing great over there. Cool cool cool.

What Guests are Reading – “A virus walks into a bar…” is not the setup to a hilarious joke (sad trombone), but the headline of this Tara Parker-Pope story in the NYT (ellipsis and all). “Everything you love about your neighborhood bar — the ambience, the crowds, the music, the free-flowing alcohol — makes it the ideal place to catch Covid-19.” The piece goes on to describe the problems behind all those elements (maybe best summed up as: intimacy) plus: “Studies also show that the particles we emit during talking and loud speech are potentially more infectious than the larger droplets we expel during a cough or a sneeze. Smaller particles persist in the air for longer time periods before settling, increasing the risk that someone nearby could inhale them. Smaller particles also can travel further into the respiratory tract.” Not great.

And in CA, “Citizens should report restaurants that fail to follow social distancing rules, California’s governor says.” Eater SF’s Eve Batey quotes Gavin Newsom as telling constituents,“Read up on these guidelines. When you go to a restaurant and it’s clear that they’re not practicing what we are preaching, report them. Give us the tools to enforce.”

P.S. – Weird to read media refer to people reporting restaurants breaking pandemic rules as “aspiring hall monitors” “diming out” offenders. Especially in outlets that literally call out bad actors all the time for all sorts of things…

And last but not least – FYI, the San Francisco auction for “#askchefsanything” is about to go live this morning. The fundraiser sells 30 minute video chats with participating food world folks, with proceeds going to immigrant restaurant workers in need (want more detail there, but seems legit). You can buy a chat with everyone from former SF Chronicle editor Paolo Lucchesi to Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando, and Alice Waters, Tanya Holland, Pim Techamuanvivit, Dominique Crenn, Kyle and Katina Connaughton (double feature!), and more. Full list here. If you’re in need of tough questions for your session, lmk. Always happy to make things awkward.

And that’s it for today.

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or aspiring hall monitors to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. 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

Master Somms no more, Miami shame, IRC support, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Hello Tuesday,

A short and light one today. Many of you are opening up for indoor service this week for the first time in months, and I’m sure you have… a lot on your minds. Will save my epic food media think pieces for next time.

Let’s get to it…

The Relief – Looks like the Independent Restaurant Coalition has lined up bipartisan support behind their $120B “Restaurant Stabilization Fund.” Per Siobhan Hughes in the WSJ: “Sen. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.) are taking the lead on the idea.” And: “Their bipartisan coalition… also includes Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Chris Coons (D., Del.).” Some progress there. But we shall see.

The Shame – In Miami, the Herald’s Carlos Frías and David Smileyreport that when it comes to social distancing regulations: “Social media has stepped in to police rule breakers where governments may lag behind — public floggings that have not gone unnoticed. A new Instagram account, @covid_305, sprouted over the weekend, posting videos of restaurants, bars and hotels that appear to be ignoring the rules. Among the events shown was a party at the SLS Hotel, with a full pool ringed with partygoers dancing shoulder to shoulder. On Saturday, three Miami restaurants were shut down as part of a crackdown after social media videos made the rounds. Among them was Wynwood’s Swan, owned by nightclub owner David Grutman, where diners, including the mayor, were pressed against each other in a full restaurant.” (Italics mine.) In other words: Do the right thing; you are being watched.

The Court Case – “Wine professionals are speaking out against the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, the organization headquartered in Napa that administers the notoriously difficult Master Sommelier Examination. Among the charges: that the court failed to be equitable and inclusive for people of color. First, Atlanta wine professional Tahiirah Habibi addressed her experience taking the court’s introductory exam in New York in 2011. In a June 16 video post on Instagram, Habibi recalled how the exam proctors instructed her and other candidates to address them as ‘master,’ an honorific that recalled for her the power dynamics of slavery.” Oof. Following Habibi out the door, were Richard Betts (citing “a complete lack of empathy from the CMSA” in his resignation letter), andSomm star Brian McClintic, who made clear on Medium that his departure was about the direction (or lack thereof) of CMSA beyond just its reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement: “As I started to participate as an instructor at all levels, the issues and topics that I began to value in my evolution as a wine professional, issues like environmental awareness, tearing down pretension, cultural institutions of classist behavior, challenging elements of the exam and lecture content, were either divergent with the curriculum or not being heard.” Esther Mobley has the full story for the SF Chronicle.

Side note: Pretty sure the only new cultural court successfully established since the Crimson King assumed his throne in late 1969 is the court of King James. Everyone else should give up.

Tell (SF) PR – The SF Chronicle food section has a new podcast — Extra Spicy — hosted by Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips. The three first episodes went live yesterday, and they’ve got a comment form online for questions and topic suggestions

Michelin Season – The 2020 Main Cities of Europe guide “covers 39 cities in 23 countries and recommends over 1,850 restaurants.” Per the press release, Krakow has its first ever star for Bottiglieria 1881; Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, makes its debut in the Guide via one star at Atelje; and Austria has two new one-stars, Apron and The Glass Garden. “Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin guides said, ‘After the challenges of the last three months, I am delighted that the delayed launch of [the guide] coincides with the gradual reopening of restaurants across Europe following a relaxation of restrictions implemented during the pandemic.” Fingers crossed...

And last and least – And then I learned… (via this piece by LA Taco’s Juan Ramirez) that there is a Mexican tequila brand named The Wall, which comes in bottles shaped like a wall and is named after, yeah, the wall. Good news is: You don’t have to spend too much mental energy worrying about this one. Pretty easy to get past it.

And that’s it for today.

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

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a full pool ringed with partygoers dancing shoulder to shoulder to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. 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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