Beard Awards, TOTC Awards, GQ Accolades, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, May 5th, 2020
First, many apologies for the lack of Family Meal last Friday. In true work-from-home form, I was caught off guard by an annual holiday.
Let’s get to it…
Awards Season – Causality is hard to prove, but let’s assume that: In response to a sustained pressure campaign from this newsletter, the 2020 James Beard Award finalists in nearly all categories were announced yesterday afternoon on Twitter. Results came in over the course of an hour and fifteen-minute video announcement, which I…. have not had time to watch. (Please send me all your hottest takes and minute marks!)
Full list of finalists available on the JBFA official site; way too many to include here. A quick sample of three big, national, restaurant categories:
Best New Restaurant: Automatic Seafood & Oysters (Birmingham); Demi (Minneapolis); Eem (Portland, OR); Fox & the Knife (Boston); Gado Gado (Portland, OR); Gianna (New Orleans); Kalaya (Philadelphia); Nightshade (LA); Pasjoli (Santa Monica); and Verjus (SF).
Outstanding Restaurant: FIG (Charleston); Frasca Food and Wine (Boulder); Jaleo (DC); Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix); and Quince (SF).
And in the Restaurant and Professional book category: Dishoom: From Bombay with Love by Shamil Thakrar, Kavi Thakrar, and Naved Nasir; Eleven Madison Park: The Next Chapter by Daniel Humm; and The Whole Fish Cookbook: New Ways to Cook, Eat and Think by Josh Niland.
Of note in the newly reconfigured awards regions: The list of cities represented in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category — supposedly encompassing Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio — reads like a wire report from the 1997 Tonys: “Chicago, Chicago, Chicago, Chicago, Chicago, Chicago.”
Congrats, all! Happy birthday, James Beard! And if your work – like mine – didn’t make the list, do not dismay. We are wonderful.
More news from the Beard Foundation yesterday: “The Foundation will forego a physical ceremony for the 2020 Media Awards. Instead, we will issue a press release on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 announcing the winners. Restaurant & Chef Award winners are now slated to be announced on Friday, September 25, 2020, from Chicago, broadcast live via the James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed.”
ATTN: Claire Reichenbach, I will personally donate $17 to JBF if the media awards announcement press release goes out under a 48 hour embargo.
Awards Season Too – Not to be outdone, Tales of the Cocktail announced Top 10 finalists in each of their 23 categories yesterday as well. Full list on their site. Best New American Cocktail Bar finalists here: Bar Goto Niban (NYC); Bar Marilou (New Orleans); Belle Époque (New Orleans); Boat Drinks (St. Augustine); Century Grand (Phoenix); Crown Shy (NYC); Elda (SF); Scotch Lodge (Portland, OR); Silver Lyan (DC); and Thunderbolt (LA). Congrats, all!
The Lists – Also launching yesterday, GQ’s big annual list from Brett Martin. His intro: “Here are my Best New Restaurants in America for 2020. I present them knowing it is likely that in the unknown future doing so may seem awkward at best. I also know it is likely that one or more will not survive the coming weeks and months. Out of an abundance of hope, to borrow a phrase, I am nevertheless holding on to the present tense. They are wonderful.” Congrats to DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya (Austin); Maison Yaki (NYC); Laser Wolf (Philadelphia); The Jerk Shack (San Antonio); Tuétano Taqueria (San Ysidro); Rupee Bar (Seattle); Hanumanh (DC); Ernesto's (NYC); Pasjoli (Santa Monica); Auburn (LA); Nari (SF); Indo (St. Louis); By Tae (Seattle); Saint-Germain (New Orleans); Gado Gado (Portland, OR); and Leila (Detroit).
The Media – Eater hired Elazar Sontag as a staff writer last week. Here he is on Twitter making the announcement and plugging his first (quasi) in-house piece: “A tour of Lucas Sin’s home kitchen, where he finds relief after spending his days cooking for his Distance Dining pop-up and Junzi Kitchen.”
Some Sad News – “When the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this spring, the Indian-born chef Garima Kothari saw business at her Jersey City restaurant, Nukkad, evaporate overnight… When we spoke over the phone on April 9, Kothari… laughed nervously when I asked if she feared that the restaurant, just five months old, would have to close for good. ‘I hope not,’ she said. ‘I have plans.’ Just two weeks later, on the morning of Sunday, April 26, Kothari died in an alleged murder-suicide at the hands of her partner…. She was 35.” I’d say you should read this obituary from Mayukh Sen in Eater (you should), except it’s only partly an obituary. The headline is, “Who Gets an Obituary?” and Sen mostly uses Kothari’s relative invisibility in American food media to indict American food media.
Key passage: “Just last year, the editor of a major newspaper’s food section asked me why I’d pitched a profile of a small restaurant owner in Bushwick when I could write about a more established name like Nigella Lawson. The question revealed this publication’s reactive, not proactive, default posturing. So I now find myself wondering if the food media’s commitment to the status quo will continue, despite how unsustainable the pandemic is revealing that to be?” Sen is not very hopeful. Me either. Obituaries for the status quo rarely need writing.
The Apps – Inbox: “Resy is committing to 100% fee relief through the end of the year, for current and new partners. This means if a business wasn't using a platform pre-Covid, but feel it makes sense for their business going forward, they can use ResyOS (and the associated tools -- Ticketing, Resy At Home, and more) at no cost.” Full disclosure: That is a direct copy/paste from Resy PR, and maybe it’s just a sign of what being owned by American Express can buy a “startup,” but in a world of bad moves and cash grabs by some other apps, at least this is… somethin.
And that’s it for today.
If, on top of everything else, you did not get shortlisted for an award you wanted, or missed out on a list you thought you deserved, you may, like me, be a little bummed today. In my case, I knew from the get-go there was zero chance for an aggregated newsletter like Family Meal to win in the column category (low chuggability ranking, let’s be real), but when I woke up and saw it not included early this morning in Hong Kong, I decided to pour myself a strong cup of coffee, open my laptop, and write an acceptance speech anyway. That’s below, FWIW. Thank you, thank you, you’re welcome.
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 more established name like Nigella Lawson to email@example.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
OK. Here goes.
The James Beard Award acceptance speech I’ll never get to read:
Members of the committee. Mr. Beard [kiss fingers, point to sky]. Thank you. Thank you. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be here in this room, on Zoom with all of the people whose Twitter feeds I regularly scrutinize for isms.
When I was a boy, my grandmother would call me into the kitchen and let me help her clip newspapers at the table. I remember her intense focus, the way she moved her mouth in unison with the scissors as if still chewing over an article already destined in her mind for one of my aunts, uncles or cousins. Sometimes, a scrap would fall to the floor, and it was my job to pick it up and place it back on the table for her, at which point she would say something wonderful like, “Never try LSD, Andy. This man thought he could fly and jumped through a window. If your cousin Joe doesn’t get a job and stop camping around the country with that Gary Garcia fella he’s going to wind up julienned in a Hilton parking lot too.”
Once, a piece floated off the table and landed in my lap. It was a William Safire column, on which she had written a single word in bold, red letters: “Idiot!” I knew then and there that I wanted to be an aggregator, and have tried to make her proud every day since.
To my grandmother [kiss fingers, point to sky] who would have been thrilled to see me in this gallery-view rectangle on her Gateway monitor, I say, thank you. Thank you for giving me the courage to pick and choose what the public should, nay must read. Thank you for showing me that a highlighted quote, a brief, well-delivered analysis, and a distinct feeling of superiority from the safety of my own kitchen table could be my way to help show the world what truly matters. Thank you, of course, for being my grandmother, a woman whose womanness has brought a near-universal, yet also deeply personal, gender diversity to both my life – and these awards – through the stories I tell about myself.
And also, you’re welcome. [Send malware link to Clare R. in chat].