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Beard Season, Bong Season, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, March 29th, 2019
Quick reminder that there will be no Family Meal Tuesday, as I’ll be in transit to SF all day. Thanks again for all the recommendations for the next few weeks! I got everything from a popcorn place outside Durham, NC, to late night Korean in Outer Sunset. And a little bird told me I should make a Bay Area pilgrimage to a fine dining spot that may shutter soon... But I DIGRESS.
Let’s get to it…
Beard Season – First things first, the 2019 Beard nominees were announced Wednesday in Houston, prompting this perfect headline on the local Eater: “The James Beard Awards Came to Houston Just to Shut Out All the Houston Nominees.”
And the (Houston-free) nominees are… many, and listed here. Congrats, all!
A few notes on the big Beard Foundation diversity push thus far:
For a look at overall change, Bret Thorn has repeat nominees highlighted in bold here: “As in most years, the list of nominees for the Restaurant and Chef Awards looks a lot like last year’s, with a little more than half of the nominees — 56 out of 110, including the Best New Restaurant category, all of which are new each year — nominated again in the same category as last year.”
Haven’t seen much detailed analysis on the industry side, but an example from Chronicle Food editor Paolo Lucchesi shows the Bay Area’s list of 8 female semi-finalist chefs was cut to one nominee, while six male chefs made the final round.
And following up on the Beard’s more inclusive journalism application process this year, writer Deborah Reid tweeted out some back-of-the-graph math on the media awards here. She found a male to female breakdown of 35 to 26, while “Caucasians” outnumbered “POC” … 50 to 11.
Draw your own conclusions?
Related: The Profile Treatment – “James Beard Awards Receive a Shrug from SriPraPhai.” Great write-up in Edible Queens from Alexandria Misch.
Michelin Season – The Main Cities of Europe 2019 guide is out, with one new three star entry (Amador, in Vienna), seven new two-stars, and 44 new single-stars. Not very helpful press release here. Out of stock Amazon listing here.
The Visionary – The SF Chronicle made a bit of a controversial choice for its 2019 Visionary of the Year award: Saru Jayaraman, who “helped start Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a national advocacy group that today counts more than 25,000 workers, 770 restaurant owners and 15,000 consumers as members.” FYI: “The award carries a $10,000 grant from The Chronicle that can be applied to advance Jayaraman’s work,” – work that presumably includes the One Fair Wage initiative that’s been trying (with mixed results) to eliminate the tip credit around the country…
The Close – Per the NYT’s Florence Fabricant, “Barbuto, chef Jonathan Waxman’s vibrant fusion of a casual neighborhood hangout and a destination restaurant, will close at the end of May after 15 years in a former garage in the West Village…. For Barbuto’s long run, Mr. Waxman gave credit to his staff, especially the general manager, Jennifer Davidson, and his wine director, Michael Kelly.”
Those Guys – In NY, Eater’s Serena Dai says, “Looks like disgraced restaurateur Ken Friedman has found another new business project. The famed Spotted Pig owner — who has been accused of behavior such as forcibly kissing staffers — has applied for a liquor license on the North Fork… of Long Island. He’s working on it with Jennilee Morris and Jess Dunne of North Fork Roasting Company.”
And in Chicago, per Ashok Selvam, “Chef Jacob Bickelhaupt… held two pop-up dinners at the site of Stone Flower, his upcoming fine dining restaurant in Bucktown. Bickelhaupt stated that the proceeds would be donated to a domestic violence charity, Between Friends.” That’s the same charity that helped Bickelhaupt’s ex-wife after he assaulted her at 42 Grams in 2017, so you may think this is a great step in the right direction! But he didn’t bother to tell Between Friends about the dinners, and they issued a lukewarm response: “We encourage efforts by those who have done harm to take responsibility for their actions, be accountable, examine their behavior and, where appropriate, make amends, but it is important to note that public acts of charity cannot be the sole or even primary form of restitution or be perceived as taking accountability.”
For the Somm – Late to this, but Food & Wine put out their Sommeliers of the Year 2019 list last week. It goes like this: Taylor Grant (Scopa Italian Roots, Old Lightning, Dama – L.A.); Erik Segelbaum (Somlyay – D.C.); Andy Fortgang (Canard, Le Pigeon, Little Bird – Portland, OR); Vinny Eng (Tartine Manufactory – SF); Liz Martinez (Prime + Proper – Detroit); Femi Oyediran and Miles White (Graft – Charleston); Haley Fortier (Haley.Henry and Nathálie – Boston); and Jorge Riera (Frenchette – NYC). Bios and “Benchmark Bottles” here.
For TV Fans – “The dish that could have won ‘Top Chef’ for Eric Adjepong was one he never had the chance to make.” Until now. The Washington Post wisely invited Adjepong to make the meal for them, and Maura Judkis has the results here.
And last and least – Headline in the SF Chronicle: “The French Laundry’s bong course is a brilliant act of artistry.” When critic Soleil Ho was in Yountville for dinner recently, a waiter poured her some porcini mushroom broth from a bong, saying, ‘When Pete Wells reviewed Per Se, he compared the mushroom bouillon to dirty bong water… So this is a play on that review.’” I love that Ho wrote this up, but personally think it’s less “brilliant act of artistry” and more light chuckles from the man Kwame Onwuachi refers to as “Thomas Keller, Dad Joke king of the kitchen,” in an excerpt from his upcoming memoir.
(Best Peter Falk: Oh, and… just one more thing. Speaking of Onwuachi, I did a 3,000 word day-in-the-life profile of him on his last trip to Hong Kong. Never sent it out for various reasons, but used the text and pics to learn how to build websites with Webflow. You can see by the formatting that I did not learn a lot. Finally published it publicly yesterday. Please share!)
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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