Beards open, Flay out, Haigh hey!, Brock's Audrey, Saxelby gone, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, October 15th, 2021

Hello Friday,

Let’s get to it…

Beard Season – The 2022 James Beard Awards applications and nominations are officially open! “The deadline for all entries and recommendations will be November 30, 2021 at 11:59 P.M. EST.”

Details, procedures, and applications here.

In maybe the most earth-shattering awards news ever, the “Columns” category is now the “Columns and Newsletters” category. I claim full credit for this change, and ask that this effective activism be taken into account in the judging process. It will certainly be a central theme in my acceptance speech.

Don’t forget: This year, the Beard Foundation says it is “requiring all Awards entrants to provide a short write-up or audio/visual recording to demonstrate that their work aligns with one or more of our values and Awards mission pillars. We encourage entrants to write and speak in their own words in highlighting their commitment to the mission. The statement will be reviewed for content and alignment, and not for language fluency, video quality, or production value… If you are entering on behalf of someone else, please write and/or speak in your own words, how that entrant is aligned with one or more of the values and Awards mission pillars.”

On the media side of things, I asked a Beard spokesperson what they thought of former Awards committee member Hanna Raskin’s recent assertion that having to pledge alignment to “furthering our industry” or anything like that goes against journalism ethics. This was the response:

“The Foundation understands and values the need for journalists to maintain objectivity and independence. By ‘furthering our industry’ we are referring to journalism that seeks to tell a broader story of our industry: covering diverse stories; being inclusive in its scope rather than only looking at one side; challenging the industry to do better in terms of inclusivity; looking deeper into all the people behind our food culture; educating people about different cultures and practices through food. These are examples furthering the industry. We are not asking journalists to skew their narrative, we are encouraging them to broaden it, as the Foundation will continuously strive to do.”


Oh, and reminder to food media: “For the first two weeks (October 12-26), limited grants will be available to cover the entry fee for those who state a financial need in their application.” Past that deadline, the entry fee is $75, though the New Yorker’s Helen Rosner and Chopped’s Ted Allen might cover you if you’re skint.

Nominating (and self-nominating) chefs and restaurants is free. Good luck, all!

The Word Thief – “The worlds of London food and international cookbooks are rocking after far-reaching allegations of plagiarism by a highly regarded chef. Cookbook publisher Bloomsbury Absolute has withdrawn Makan, the debut cookbook by Mei Mei owner Elizabeth Haigh, after allegations of plagiarism from Sharon Wee, the author of Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen, a cookbook memoir published by Marshall Cavendish in 2012.” James Hansen has a detailed rundown of multiple allegations in Eater London, including Haigh’s apparent plagiarism of Dave Chang collaborator Chris Ying’s You and I Eat the Same. A mess.

The Lists – The team at NYT Food is out with their very own 50 Best list. In this case, it’s alternately titled “America’s Favorite Restaurants” and “The Restaurant List 2021,” and encompasses “The 50 places in America we’re most excited about right now.” Every restaurant on the list gets about a paragraph from an NYT Food writer, and a lot of visual action from the photographers / videographers on the team. Can’t list them all, but congrats to those who made the cut!

The Profile Treatment – Headline in the Washingtonian this month: “Fine-Dining Star Maria Font Trabocchi Is Opening Restaurants in . . . Somalia. The partner in Fiola and Del Mar is running spots on an international base in Mogadishu.” Details via Jessica Sidman: “Trabocchi was approached in February 2019 by Bancroft Global Development, a DC-based NGO and private military contractor that describes itself as ‘managing complex projects in conflict zones.’ Bancroft trains Somali troops fighting extremist group al Shabaab, supports peacekeeping missions, and provides medical care. It operates out of a huge, highly secure base in Mogadishu that regularly hosts diplomats, journalists, and other international travelers. Trabocchi, Bancroft proposed, could help them upgrade the food… The native Spaniard has already boasted on Instagram she might be the first person to bring a leg of high-end Cinco Jotas Ibérico ham to Somalia.”

Tone deaf? Bad ass? Now moving on from private military training bases in Somalia to a hospitality consulting role for Hard Rock Hotel openings around the world? According to the profile, the latter at least!

The Media (Opportunities) – In what sounds like a first(?), DC’s alt-weekly Washington City Paper is hiring a “a freelance carry-out food critic to evaluate and celebrate the District’s rich and historic carry-out culture.” Food editor Laura Hayes says, “one or two reviews per month for a rate of $300 per 800-word review. Meal costs of up to $50 will be reimbursed.” Details here.

In CA, the SF Chronicle is hiring a Wine Reporter who “will work closely with The Chronicle's senior wine critic Esther Mobley and the rest of the Food & Wine team to expand and deepen the newspaper's coverage of the region's one-of-a-kind wine culture.”

And on the trades side of things, Restaurant Hospitality’s Sam Oches tells me his publication “is enhancing its content offerings with more localized and regionalized coverage and is looking for regional contributors.” Email him for more info at

Some Sad News – “Anne Saxelby, a pioneer in championing fine American cheeses at a time when cheese lovers largely looked to Europe for such artisanal products, died on Saturday at her home in Brooklyn. She was 40.” Florence Fabricant has a full obituary in the NYT, with cameos from Dan Barber, Rob Kaufelt, and others. For more, Chris Crowley also has an obit in Grubstreet, and Eater NY’s Emma Orlow collected some Instagram tributes to Saxelby too.

And via the AP in the LA Times: “Fuller Goldsmith, Food Network star who competed on ‘Top Chef Junior,’ dead at 17… Though he’d fought back acute lymphoblastic leukemia three times since the age of 3, Fuller succumbed to the disease Tuesday, days short of his 18th birthday.”

For Design Fans – Having a hard time understanding the full scale / style of Nashville’s new Audrey restaurant via either this Eater photospread from Emily Dorio or chef Sean Brock’s own Instagram video tour with designer Katie Vance, but will say that using wall hangings instead of framed art feels like a very smart move in a lot of muted spaces, and this is one of them. And re that video tour: Did you know that someone somewhere sells all-in-one pendant lights / speakers / herb dryers? I did not, but Christmas is coming and I am willing to share my address if you need it for shipping (not billing).

And last but not least: The 100 Million Dollar Man – “[Last] Friday, news broke that [Bobby Flay], 56, would be parting ways with the [Food Network] once his current three-year contract expires at the end of this year.” Now, People Magazine’s Dave Quinn reports, “According to an insider, Flay had been in negotiations… and was seeking a deal that would be above Guy Fieri's recent $80 million contract (which reportedly made the Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives host the highest-paid chef on cable TV). ‘Bobby wanted a contract in the ballpark of $100 million,’ the source says.”

OK, so he’s walked away. Where will Bobby Flay get more pay? Hard to say. But….

That’s it for today.

I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday and everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal. If you love Family Meal and want to get it twice a week like the cool kids do…

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