Beards untangled, BA EIC, Fee caps, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, August 28th, 2020
One last reminder: If you are not a paying subscriber, you will not see Family Meal in your inbox on Tuesday. You will see everything from Tuesday copy/pasted into the bottom of Friday’s newsletter. But till then, nada. If you don’t want to wait, and can make it happen…
Let’s get to it…
Beard Season – Headline in the NYT: “Behind the Cancellation of James Beard Awards, Worries About Chefs’ Behavior and No Black Winners.”
Story by six-time James Beard award winning writer (and 2005-2006 awards committee member) Pete Wells: “The short list of nominees had been announced in May. The final vote had been cast and counted soon afterward. But in July and August, the slate of nominees began to crumble…. Some chefs took themselves out of the running. The foundation asked others to drop out, having deemed them too controversial because new allegations about their personal or professional behavior had surfaced over the summer… The restaurant awards committee say they were overwhelmed by the number and speed with which chefs were falling under suspicion.”
Per Wells, while some chefs were asked to make happy-go-lucky video acceptance speeches to be aired in case they won, at least one chef was pushed to bow out due to unexplained allegations of “toxic kitchen culture” (“I said, ‘Can you give me an example?’ She said, ‘That’s it. Toxic kitchen culture’”). A committee member told Wells: “The longer they waited, the more they learned about people.”(!)
But also, the further along they got, the more they learned about the awards process itself: “At an emergency meeting held on Zoom in late July, a foundation staff member who had seen the final voting results raised a second concern: No Black people had won in any of the 23 categories on the ballot.”
There are a LOT of opinions going around on this one. Jordana Rothman, who serves on the national restaurant committee, posted her own inside baseball account on Instagram, which is worth a read. But, I’m not ready to give anyone in media any credit for their heroic hindsight posts just yet. (And I’m too annoyed by them to list any more here.) Maybe next week.
The Media – Bon Appetit has finally named its new EIC, and it’s… “Dawn Davis, a prominent editor and executive who has been one of the few Black power players in the book world. Condé Nast, the parent of Bon Appétit, announced the appointment on Thursday, saying Ms. Davis will start Nov. 2. It is a wide-ranging role that, in addition to the Bon Appétit brand, will give Ms. Davis editorial control of the company’s food outlets Epicurious, Healthyish and Basically across all media, including print, digital, social media and video.” The NYT’s Marc Tracy reports, “Ms. Davis is a vice president at Simon & Schuster where she is the founder and publisher of 37 Ink, an imprint that emphasizes marginalized voices.” Congrats, all!
P.S. – Don’t know much about Davis, her food/restaurant knowledge, or her plans for BA yet, but Anna W and I are back on good terms and I’ll be seeing her at Old Mastic for Labor Day per usual this year, so… Keep you posted!
The Media (Opportunity) – FYI: “The Washington Post is looking for a food writer and recipe developer to join its award-winning Voraciously team.” Details and application links here.
The Caps – Looks like at least NYC and LA will extend the caps they placed on food delivery fees for restaurants. Eater NY’s Erika Adams and the LAT’s Garrett Snyder report total fees for each city will be capped at 20% until 90 days after restaurants are allowed to return to pre-COVID operations, providing a three month buffer against starts and stops, and effectively assuring the caps outlast the virus.
For Design Fans – Maybe it’s just lockdown, but I unapologetically love the preppy, seafaring styling of the renovated Post House in Charleston. Do I like that weird thing people are doing where leather straps hold up back cushions on booths? No. Would I have gone with seashell sconces? Reader, I lack the courage of my beach-theme convictions. But let’s not get petty about the details! That’s not who we are! Let’s meet at Post House! I mean, first I’ll have to stop by a nearby Vineyard Vines (and hope they’re hosting a Top-Siders pop-up), but as soon as I ditch my inland duds in the dressing room, I will see you there! (Photos by Mike Ledford in Eater Carolinas.)
And last but not least – On Wednesday, the Eater Chicago team pointed me to a city-run “contest asking locals to submit ideas to ‘stimulate and encourage’ winter outdoor dining that’s safe for both workers and patrons.” The cash prize is $5,000. BUT everyone’s a winner if you like… ideas! You can check in on the “Dining Villas” idea (the “technical overview” section is just a picture of a plastic garden shed), “Yurt and Simulated Dining Rooms” (presented by the “School of Metaphysics” with a series of back-of-napkin drawings and, for “prototyping”: a blurry picture of a face over the words “Rich Hemp Extract” with the caption, “Wink”), and of course, “The Chi-Town Cozy” (a Cook County corruption-proof system wherein battery heated seats are “distributed by securing a coupon at participating restaurants, and purchasing wholesale at Alderman's offices.”)
Who doesn’t love Ideas?!
And that’s it for today.
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