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asterisk next to his name, with an associated footnote that reads, “*As of November 7th, 2019, Anthony Cailan has been withdrawn from this list.”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 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!

Anthony Cailan accused, Bannos Jr. arrested, Vintage Lord Snort, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Hello Tuesday,

First things first: Flights all set and I’ll be in the Bay Area this coming Sunday to Thursday. Any last minute thoughts on places to go, people to meet, or threads to pull, please send my way! andrew@thisfamilymeal.com.

A tough one today.

Let’s get to it…

The Accusations – “On Sept. 10, Wine & Spirits magazine posted an image of its October cover on Instagram. Behind the bold type — ‘BEST NEW SOMMS’ — was the smiling face of Anthony Cailan, a sommelier named by his peers as a future leader of the $300 billion global wine business… Outgoing, charming and an expert networker, at 29 he is already a celebrity in the small world of high-end wine. He had worked at influential Los Angeles restaurants like Bestia, Animal, and Eggslut, where his brother, [Alvin Cailan], is the chef. Last year, the two were recruited to open a New York restaurant, the Usual, where Anthony’s wine list received glowing media attention and helped him get nominated for the award. For some, however, that accolade was the last straw. In the weeks after the post, four women in Mr. Cailan’s professional circle contacted The New York Times to allege that he had either sexually assaulted them or tried to do so — allegations Mr. Cailan has denied.”

Julia Moskin’s in-depth reporting on these accusations begins with four women, but reveals a larger pattern going back several years, apparently corroborated by various contemporary email/text records and whisper networks. And beyond the damning case it makes against Anthony Cailan, the piece also takes a hard look at those who weren’t willing to take a hard look before Moskin did.

Key example: Moskin says that after a glowing report on Anthony appeared in The Feiring Line, Raquel Makler emailed wine writer Alice Feiring to raise very personal alarms about him. “Feiring responded the next day, offering some sympathy but discouraging Ms. Makler from going public, and chiding her for not resisting more strenuously. ‘It is up to us to learn to say no to unwanted sexual advances,’ she wrote, ‘Remember, he is not much older than you,’ she added. ‘He has more wine knowledge sure. But he was still just a kid who has some growing up to do. You may have perceived him as a powerful person in the industry, but he was/is not.’”

That link again, ICYMI, is here.

The Demeanor – “Jimmy Bannos Jr., the award-winning chef behind Purple Pig — the acclaimed downtown Chicago restaurant — has been charged with misdemeanor battery stemming from an incident that happened in September after the popular Chicago Gourmet food festival in Millennium Park. A line cook from Mi Tocaya Antojeria said Bannos Jr. punched him after an ancillary event for the fest on the night of Saturday, September 28.” Lots going on here. Details from Ashok Selvam in Eater Chicago.

The Media – In DC, Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes has a long, extremely thorough look at the lack of representation of people of color (particularly black people) among DC (and US) food critics (and media). Hard to pick one of the many solid arguments and quotes, but among the nuggets is the fact that Northern Virginia Magazine is looking for a new dining editor and critic (listed on MediaBistro here), and the logical implication of the piece is POC should definitely apply.

One not-quite critique: While everyone is absolutely right to shine a continuous spotlight on Soleil Ho’s work at the Chronicle, I’m always hoping to hear as much about the contributions of her colleague, Justin Phillips. Hayes notes, “Only 41 percent of the District’s population is white, according to 2019 data, yet there isn’t a single dedicated critic of color at a major outlet.” Phillips is not a critic, sure, but San Francisco’s black population has dwindled to around 5%, and it’s easy to imagine that without his presence on staff, a lot of that dwindling, especially in the world of restaurants and bars, might have happened without much notice. There’s a lot to mine in his writings, if you’re writing about writing like (some of) his

The Podcasts – The James Beard Foundation’s (and World’s 50 Best’s) Mitchell Davis is on TheDave Chang Show this week, getting mildly challenged re anonymity and opacity in voting panels and process. It’s a nearly hour and a half conversation, but if you had to skip somewhere, I’d say jump in around 37:30 for Chang laying out his complaints about judges’ travel patterns and east coast favoritism, Davis explaining how the process works, and the argument continuing on from there. Fair warning: As with most awards shows, you’ll find little in the way of big revelations or satisfaction here.

And at around the 34:20 minute mark in this week’s Eater’s Digest, I had a lot of fun listening to Eater critic Robert Sietsema discuss Pete Wells’s zero-star Peter Luger piece: “I don’t know that Pete really hates it as much as he pretends to… He’s doing a stunt review.” Stunt hate! Neat!

For (Sculpture) Design Fans – Jarring to see an old picture of “Lord Snort” in an NYT roundup of Burning Man art installations now scattered throughout the US. The 10-ton, metal, muscle-and-bones sculpture of a wild boar is vaguely recognizable as the same huge pig more recently pictured as a silhouette against the Kincade fire flames that destroyed the Soda Rock Winery in Sonoma last week.

And Last and Least Per the AFP: Marc Veyrat, “who is suing the Michelin guide for suggesting he used cheddar cheese in a souffle, was named as one of the 10 immortals of haute cuisine by the rival Gault & Millau guide… Veyrat was given a permanent place in the new academy of the ‘Golden Toque’ alongside Guy Savoy, Alain Passard, Alain Ducasse and other legends of French cuisine. The news was seen as a swipe at its arch rival Michelin, which has been accused by Veyrat of ‘dishonouring’ him by stripping him of his coveted third star in January.”

So… On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.

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 stunt hate 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!

P.S. – Anyone been to Mumbai lately? An industry reader is headed there soon and is looking for some solid restaurant recommendations. Reply here or send to andrew@thisfamilymeal.com. Thank you!

The Zero Star click farm, Grubhub tanks, Foie banned, Onda choppy, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, November 1st, 2019

Hello Friday,

Let’s get to it…

The Critics – The New York Times sent out push notifications to app users around the world this week, announcing: “Our restaurant critic gives one of New York’s iconic steakhouses zero stars: ‘After I’ve paid, there is the unshakable sense that I’ve been scammed.’” That is, of course, Pete Wells talking Peter Luger on Tuesday (though some of us in Asia were awoken to this key international update at 2:27AM Wednesday morning). You can read the whole thing here, and check the NYT’s separate roundup of online reactions to its own piece here, or see their slideshow of pictures of the restaurant here, and then head over to a companion piece for “13 New York City Steakhouses That Are Not Peter Luger,” and if you want still more shade, they also published an updated roundup of past zero-star takes here. High fives all around! But wait, there’s more. Turn down that Jock Jams CD in the NYT newsroom for a sec, because Wells also wrote about the burden of writing a bad review.

The Critics too – Northern Virginia Magazine’s Stefanie Gans wrote a wonderful little essay about why she’s leaving her current job as the magazine’s restaurant critic, but I can’t get it to open no matter how hard I try, so here’s a link to her goodbye tweet, wherein she adds: “I'm staying in the food and drink world! You can find me at @cookology where I'll run programs and events. So all of the chefs, bartenders, cookbook writers, restaurant owners, brewers, distillers, winemakers, publicists, etc. - stay in touch!”

The Delivery Wars – “Grubhub’s stock plunged more than 40 percent on Tuesday — its worst single-day drop ever— after the food-delivery giant drastically slashed its financial outlook, warning that fierce competition is eating into sales and profits.” As reported by Lisa Fickenscher in the NY Post, Grubhub plans to beat back that competition by “piloting an initiative in recent months to expand its restaurant network without officially partnering with eateries — a strategy that has been used by deep-pocketed startups like Doordash and Postmates.” Italics mine. Cool cool cool.

Key quote: “‘It’s very hard to trick a consumer to pay more than they want to pay,’ [Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney] said.” I don’t know, man. You been to Luger?

The Foie – “The New York City Council overwhelmingly passed legislation on Wednesday that will ban the sale of foie gras in the city, one of the country’s largest markets, beginning in 2022. New York City will join California in prohibiting the sale of foie gras, the fattened liver of a duck or goose, over animal cruelty concerns.” Details via Jeffery C. Mays and Amelia Nierenberg in the NYT.

The Prize – Found on FoodTank: “Apply for the Food System Vision Prize to Envision a Better Food System for 2050… The Prize, launched by The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with SecondMuse and OpenIDEO, is driven by a central question: ‘How might we envision regenerative and nourishing food futures for 2050?’ Visions can be submitted now through January 31, 2020. Up to 10 Top Visionaries will receive US$200,000 each, for a total prize value of US$2 million… While the prize is open to organizations globally, applications submitted by teams of multiple organizations from across the food system—think a university paired with a city government or a start-up together with a research center joined by a group of chefs—will be prioritized.” Partner up, folks?

The Profile Treatment – Looks like Bon Appétit’s David Tamarkin got a fair amount of access to Gabriela Cámara and Jessica Koslow as they moved toward Onda in the Proper Hotel in Santa Monica. The resulting profile is full of little tensions that have me wondering how many months until Cámara is out of the partnership altogether. It starts with the fritto misto (“Cámara envisioned a classic dish, something like what you’d find at Cala… or Contramar… But ‘classic’ is something Koslow can’t wrap her head around.”), moves on to questions of scale and ambition, and ends with Cámara telling Tamarkin, “‘The reality is that this is more of a consultancy,’ ... There was a hesitancy in her voice, and I didn’t know if it was because she wasn’t sure how much to reveal about her role, or if she was unsure herself what that role is. When I asked if she saw herself doing more consultancies of this nature, she sounded almost pained.”

Key line: “Onda translates to English as ‘wave,’ and Cámara and Koslow are quick to say that the name, in part, refers to them being on the same wavelength. But they named the restaurant before the real work began, before they knew how much they would get hung up over a fritto misto.”

The Big Gig Per Caleb Pershan in Eater NY, “After serious staff shakeups this spring, restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group is turning to a trusted insider to lead the kitchen at mainstay Union Square Cafe. Chef Lena Ciardullo, who joined the group a decade ago, will take over as the restaurant’s new executive chef in early 2020... Now, the USHG will hire to fill her current role at Marta.”

For the somm – In the run-up to the 2020 release of her memoir — Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America's Youngest SommelierVictoria James, beverage director at Manhattan’s Cote, contacted “each of the Michelin-starred and Wine Spectator award-winning restaurants in New York City to ask for the name, gender, and ethnic background of their [wine buyers] and their background for a data survey.” She shares the results, and some choice anecdotes about her time swimming among these statistics, in Eater NY (where the comment section is… oh, boy). A sample: Of the 170 Wine Spectator award-winning restaurants: “86 percent are men, 14 percent are women, and 88 percent are white, 6 percent are Hispanic, 5 percent are Asian, and 1 percent are black.” And when it comes to 76 Michelin spots: “83 percent are men, 17 percent are women, and 71 percent are white, 24 percent are Asian, 5 percent are Hispanic, and 0 percent are black.” Zero. Percent.

For the somm too – The NYT’s “Wine and Climate Change” series is complete, and ICYMI, all four of Eric Asimov’s articles on the subject are here: How Climate Change Impacts Wine; In Oregon Wine Country, One Farmer’s Battle to Save the Soil; Freshness in a Changed Climate: High Altitudes, Old Grapes; and In Napa Valley, Winemakers Fight Climate Change on All Fronts.

And last and least – Uh, I had to cut the last and least today because it’s a review of Pete Wells’s review and I don’t have a first reader available to tell me if it’s too harsh (or stupid). If you’d like to be that reader, send me a note and I’ll send it your way. Sorry. This must be as frustratingly unhelpful as a trip to the DMV, huh? Wink, nudge, ZING!

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 fritto misto 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!

CA winds, DiSpirito tells most, Sweetgreen 3.0, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Hello Tuesday,

Let’s get to it…

First, the flames – I can’t pretend to keep you (or me) up to date on everything happening with the fires out west, but both the LA Times and SF Chronicle have basically live coverage alongside useful maps, and Wine Spectator’s Tim Fish, MaryAnn Worobiec, Mitch Frank, Augustus Weed, and Aaron Romano also appear to be regularly adding vineyard news to this story on the Soda Rock and Field Stone wineries (both of which have burned).

In Northern CA, where Healdsburg and other cities have been evacuated, electric utility PG&E has released a schedule / map for more preventative power outages starting today, embedded here on SF Gate, where Alix Martichoux reports, “The first customers to lose power Tuesday morning will be in the North Valley, North Bay and Sierra Foothills, followed by those in the southern Sierra foothills Tuesday afternoon, Kern County Tuesday evening, and the greater Bay Area early Wednesday morning.” After that, there could still be days of double-checking and repairs before mains come back online.

Meanwhile, near LA, the Getty Fire that started yesterday has closed the 405 exits between the 101 and Sunset Blvd, and forced evacuations of at least 10k buildings. The LA Times reporting team of Hannah Fry, Brittny Mejia, Matthew Ormseth, Louis Sahagun, and Ruben Vives have updates here. “The evacuation zone, which was described by fire officials as a box — Mulholland Drive on the north side, the 405 on the east, Sunset Boulevard on the south and Temescal Canyon Road on the west — remains in place.”

Good luck, and stay safe, all!

Le Lazarus – In Chicago, “Ambria, the iconic French restaurant that closed in 2007 after a 27-year run, is coming back. In a historic partnership between Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and The Alinea Group, Ambria will re-open next year in its original home within the Belden-Stratford building…. ‘There’s a lot of followup questions, and I don’t have a lot of answers,’ said [LEYE president] RJ Melman. ‘But I’m super excited.’” Super. Phil Vettel has available details in the Tribune.

The Profile Treatment – Food & Wine editor Kat Kinsman is out this week with a profile she says has been 15 years in the making. It begins with Rocco DiSpirito (indirectly) breaking up her relationship with her then boyfriend (not Rocco) back in 2004, and ends with the chef leaving The Standard Grill last week. Among many other details from the intervening years, Kinsman says, “What you won't see in those newspaper and magazine archives are images of Rocco DiSpirito in a wheelchair, immobile in his home, or in physical therapy while he learned to walk again. In the course of his mother's illness, as often happens to caretakers, DiSpirito neglected his own needs. He'd suffered from back issues his whole life—surely exacerbated by the physical toll all chefs accept as part of the job—and couldn't find time for his own doctor's appointments. Two years after [his mother] Nicolina's death, his bill came due… The emergency diskectomy—a kind of spinal surgery—for his acute sciatica was something DiSpirito had dreaded for his entire adult life, and it left him as an invalid for a time.”

That Fast Casual $$$ – Big shout out to Sweetgreen for inventing a new style of restaurant where you order at a counter, wait for your food, and then have someone hand it to you . Per Eater NY’s Serena Dai, Sweetgreen, “opened its big new experimental location today in Manhattan — with the most notable change being that there’s no more assembly line salad making in front of customers. The outpost… instead has staffers standing at wooden podiums to take orders via tablet, which then sends the orders to a kitchen. Sweetgreen’s calling it ‘concierge ordering,’ though really, it’s not that different from the way that people order food at McDonald’s and other mainstream fast food chains.”

P.S. – Design fans can get a look at photos of the new space, complete with stadium seating (thanks, I hate it) via the web address embedded underneath these very words. It’s a new way to get you from here to the site you want to visit and I’m calling it “chauffeur linking.” You’re welcome.

That Delivery $$$ – Although the rest of their business model is solid as a rock and definitely doesn’t require any other revenue streams to prop it up, UberEats is trialing a new service allowing customers to buy “experiences” this month. Forbes’s Biz Carson says, “In an email sent to San Francisco customers, Uber said customers could book Uber Moments for the next month, scheduled until November 17. The ‘Moments’ Uber offered include the option to book a $75 class on making Chinese dumplings and a $55 five-course Nigerian dinner.” (Looking forward to meeting the pajama-clad use-case who opens up UberEats for Friday night delivery and thinks, “Wow, I should also do a dumpling class with strangers this Sunday!”)

And last but not least, That Festival $$$ – After Hannah Raskin’s great upscale food festival breakdown in the LA Times earlier this month, Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes had a long look at the economics – and risks – of more local food fests in Washington City Paper last week. There are some interesting numbers in there, but it all starts with this devastating lede: “Aviva Copaken just wants some damn mac and cheese, and Kraft won’t cut it. She’s tried to attend three mac and cheese festivals in 2019. All three were cancelled.” Send Aviva some damn mac and cheese, people!

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 pajama-clad use-cases 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!

Joe Miller gone, Barneys burning, Young Guns noms, Tales PR, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, October 25th, 2019

Hello Friday,

Quick note to say I’ll almost certainly be back in SF for a few days around November 11-15. Bay Area readers, I’d greatly appreciate your latest drinks / dining tips, and please let me know if there’s anyone I should talk to (you?), or anything I should be looking into for larger stories… andrew@thisfamilymeal.com or just hit reply. Thanks!

Let’s get to it…

Some sad news – “Joseph ‘Joe’ Miller, the eponymous chef-owner of the former Joe’s Restaurant in Venice and one of the most influential L.A. chefs of his generation, died Wednesday. He was 60.” Garrett Snyder has a full obituary in the LAT. “Though [Joe’s] was awarded one of L.A.’s rare Michelin stars [in 2007], its most prominent legacy was the impressive array of talent that worked for Miller at one time or another, including Josef Centeno of Bäco Mercat, Zoe Nathan of Huckleberry, Josiah Citrin of Mélisse, Andrew Kirschner of Tar & Roses and Kris Tominaga of Manuela… [Miller] recently served as a consultant at Pacifique, a modern Japanese restaurant in West Hollywood, and as events manager at chef Dan Barber’s acclaimed Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.”

Some happy news – From Mister Jiu’s in SF: “We are closed this week… to be in Hawaii to attend two of our sous chefs’ (Sean and Kelly) wedding!!” Congrats!

The Last Lunch – In Manhattan, “The founder of the celebrated restaurant on the ninth floor of Barneys was escorted out of the building Monday after lambasting the luxury retailer’s management to The Post. Before being shown the door, Mark Strausman, who launched Freds in 1996… called his canning from Freds ‘emotional’ but not surprising, and then lit into the troubled retailer’s management yet again. ‘Honestly, I’m not shocked because it’s pretty true to form,’ he said. ‘This is how organized they are. They turn off your email but my electronic pass still let me into the building. This is par for the course. They can’t even fire people correctly. I’m shocked, but not.’” But not! Jennifer Gould Keil has the full story in the NY Post.

The Goaway – Page Six’s Ian Mohr reports, “Chef Rocco DiSpirito’s Standard Grill comeback is over. The celeb chef has parted ways with the Meatpacking District eatery after he made a comeback last year following his 15-year hiatus from restaurant kitchens.” Solid follow-up analysis from Chris Crowley in Grubstreet: “A rep for the Standard billed DiSpirito’s tenure as an ‘exclusive collaboration’ during the restaurant’s tenth anniversary. Sure! Anyway, oh well.”

The Streisand Effect – In Chicago, “Jacob Bickelhaupt, the chef who attacked his former business partner and spouse, Alexa Welsh — leading to the closure of their highly acclaimed restaurant, 42 Grams — is now suing his ex-wife. He alleges that Welsh has made disparaging statements that have ‘severely damaged [him] and his reputation,’ in violation of an agreement they both signed shortly after the restaurant shuttered two years ago. The lawsuit demands $250,000 to cover lost food and liquor sales at his new fine dining restaurant, Stone Flower, which opened in May in Bucktown.” Will this lawsuit right past wrongs and help everyone involved leave the past behind? Eater Chicago’s Ashok Selvam has the details, quotes from previously private messages now made public in legal docs (“You may have fooled your sponsor and all the recovering, sober former addicts, but you will never fool me.”), a rehash of the initial allegations, links to all the previous reporting, and additional unfavorable anecdotes here. Selvam also tweeted, “We continue to follow this story.” Case closed.

The Media – Replacing the departing Caleb Pershan out west, “Eater SF’s new senior editor is Eve Batey. A veteran blogger and reporter who co-founded SFist in the early 2000s…  She co-wrote the book 100 Things to Do in San Francisco Before You Die.” On Twitter here, and lots of recent selfies on her Instagram for host book reference.

Free PR – Eater is looking for nominations for its “Young Guns Class of 2020”. Lots of positive press came with making last year’s cut, including profiles, public appearances, and Eater-branded pop-ups. “To be eligible, nominees must be based in the United States and under the age of 30 — or with fewer than five years of experience in the hospitality industry — as of January 15, 2020. Nominations will close at 3 p.m. EST on January 17, 2020.” Details and form here. Good luck!

Awards Season – Bloomberg writer Richard Vines tweeted Tuesday, “The World Restaurant Awards will not be holding a ceremony in 2020 and will instead pursue evolving the awards format into a television series: ‘We believe extending our reach beyond a specific place, audience or moment in time is key to our continued progress,’ the organizers say.” To infinity, and beyond! But with like, a Netflix contract if possible.

And To Whom It May Concern, Asia’s 50 Best announced this week that the ceremony for those awards will be held this March 24th in Saga, Japan. (If you’re scratching your head about Saga, you are not alone.)

And For the Bar – FYI: “Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is pleased to announce that Tales on Tour will return to Puerto Rico in 2020. The four-day festival will take place from April 19-22 in Old San Juan.”

And that’s it for today. Hoping for the best for everyone in the path of fires and power outages in CA this weekend. Take care out there!

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 publicly available legal documents full of things you don’t want people to know or talk about 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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