Anthony Cailan accused, Bannos Jr. arrested, Vintage Lord Snort, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, November 5th, 2019
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! email@example.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.
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