Beard Award deadlines, DC stars, Silverman's People, St. Roch $$$, and more...
Family Meal - Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
Apologies for the day-late edition. Hard holidays in Hong Kong.
Let’s get to it…
Awards Season – FYI: The 2020 call for entry period for the James Beard Awards is open. And per the email announcement, “From now until October 15, 2019, entries for the Book, Broadcast Media, and Design Awards are free!” The application page is here, and if that link doesn’t work for some reason, you can get to it from the main JBF awards page here. Key deadlines:
December 1st: Leadership and Books
December 2nd: Restaurant and Chef
December 9th: Broadcast Media
December 16th: Journalism
January 20th, 2020: Restaurant Design.
Still no newsletter award, so I’m coming for you in the Column category, columnists. Good luck, all! (Unless you write a column.)
Michelin Season – “The selection for the Michelin Guide Washington, D.C. 2020 has been released, recognizing 18 starred establishments, four of which are new.” Per the press release, that selection is: “Three Stars: The Inn at Little Washington. Two Stars: minibar; Pineapple and Pearls. One Star: Bresca; The Dabney; Fiola; Gravitas (new); Kinship; Komi; Little Pearl (new); Masseria; Maydān (new); Métier; Plume; Rose’sLuxury; SushiNakazawa (new); SushiTaro; and Tail Up Goat. No change in the top two tiers, but Blue Duck Tavern lost its star, and Eater DC’s Gabe Hiatt has a long list of also-rans including snubs for Bad Saint, Doi Moi, Kith/Kin, MamaChang, Centrolina, and Rasika. He says, “Michelin inspectors did little to improve their reputation for shunning restaurants that aren’t Euro-centric… [and belong to] an organization that seems to favor men in the kitchen.” Congrats, some!
Speaking of DC restaurants: Yesterday, on instagram, executive chef Johanna Hellrigl announced, “Friday will be my last night of service at Doi Moi as I go on a new adventure- embarking on a new career opportunity on my culinary journey!”
And Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes reports that starting yesterday, Aaron Silverman is adding a new 5% charge line item to all guest checks at Pineapple and Pearls. It’ll say “People Program” and the money will go toward adding more to his group’s already relatively strong employee benefits program. Great. But really, costs went up 5%, and in almost any other industry prices would too (generally speaking; don’t @ me, econ fans). If a fine dining restaurant with basically up-front fixed pricing still has to use an explanatory add-on line item to do right by staff, are we really making progress?
That Food Hall $$$ – This week in Heated, Boyce Upholt has a critical look at food hall economics. It centers around Will Donaldson and his St. Roch market in New Orleans, where “Tunde Wey, another of St. Roch’s debut vendors, closed his stall after four months without earning enough to pay back his $10,000 startup costs. He said Donaldson was never malicious; this was just in-your-face, hyper-extractive American capitalism… [One] problem was rent… The current structure, according to Donaldson, is a flat rate of around 30 percent of sales for all vendors. Even if they made no sales, stalls paid at minimum $4,500 each month — which meant that [management company] Bayou Secret was taking in at least $49,500… Donaldson was paying just $3,500 each month to lease the 6,800-square-foot city-owned building… Alcohol, typically among the highest-margin items sold at a restaurant, was (and is) available only at the food hall’s bar, the Mayhew. It is owned by Donaldson, too.” You’ve read these stories before, but lots of good numbers in this one. (“Not good meaning good, but good meaning bad.” – Run DMC.)
The Lists – The SF Chronicle is out with its “Rising Star Chefs of 2019” via critic Soleil Ho. “As in previous years, all of them have five or fewer years of top-of-the-chain management under their belts.” Congrats to: Meghan Clark (Nari); Vincent Medina & Louis Trevino (Cafe Ohlone); Laura & Sayat Ozyilmaz (Noosh); Joyce Conway & Mel Lopez; (Pearl 6101); and Matt Horn (Horn Barbecue).
The Media – Pop culture editor Greg Morabito has left Eater and is on his way to “a Bay Area startup” that I think has something to do with book publishing. Meanwhile, Eater NY just announced they’re hiring a new NYC reporter.
The Podcasts – No easy pull-quote, but the first item in this week’s Eater Digest is a useful little discussion of London’s St. John coming to America (including how they landed where they landed, etc.), especially if you (like me) don’t actually know as much about St. John as you should.*
For Design Fans – Here’s Wonho Frank Lee’s Eater photo spread for Lowell Cafe “America’s first-ever licensed cannabis restaurant.” With the exception of the massive hood ventilation systems oddly placed over a handful of outdoor tables, all looks pretty normal, as expected. But cow-vs-goat aside, am I the only one getting strong Baphomet vibes from that logo? Especially in that ashtray, uh, iconography? Pretty sure we could play some 80s heavy metal records backwards and hear a very clear, “Leht’s awll meeut ahrt tha Lowell Caaaffe,” if we wanted to. Join me?
And that’s it for today.
I’ll see you here (back on schedule) Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or ideas for my James Beard Award “Best Column 2020” acceptance speech to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. - Is every food podcast a love fest lately? Mutual admiration is cool and all, but there are some tough topics in this corner of the world, and it feels like I never hear anyone talking to people they disagree with on air? Please tell me what I’m missing! (At least Racist Sandwich is back, so there’s that.)