Bon App Selfies, Ann Kim queen, Chang 100ish, The d'Or six, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, September 13th, 2019

Hello Friday,

It’s both Friday the 13th and the Mid-Autumn Festival! If you’re feeling superstitious, I’ll eat your mooncakes.

A media heavy Family Meal today, let’s get to it…

The Media – Lots of moving and shaking this week. A rundown:

- The NYT hired J. Kenji López-Alt as a monthly columnist on the food desk. Big get! NB: Presumably, that means he’ll be working alongside former Tasty producer Scott Loitsch. When Sam Sifton announced Loitsch’s hiring last year, Kenji told Sifton: “You hired a person who was a leader at a company that made a policy of stealing content from other people and repackaging it. I am seriously shocked and disappointed by this move from the NYT Food.”

- At the Washington Post, Emily Heil is moving over to WaPo Food, where she says she’ll report on “national food news and trends.” Off to the races already, as you’ll see below.

- Texas Monthly got a lot of outside press this week for this announcement: “As of September 18, Texas Monthly will have a taco editor on staff. José R. Ralat, a Dallas-based writer, is joining us to cover all things taco, from reviews and profiles to trends and Tex-Mex traditions.”  If you want in his head a little, Helen Rosner interviewed him for the New Yorker, where he admits “Taco Editor” is a bit of a stunt title (he’ll cover more than tacos).

And a quick shoutout to the SF Chronicle for the new layout of their food homepage. Big improvement!

Congrats, all!

The Critics – Food writer Adam Roberts has a new(ish) podcast called Lunch Therapy, and this week’s guest was the LAT’s Bill Addison. It’s well worth a listen especially for LA folks who want to get to know their critic better (work life and love life!), but I’ll note two avoid-these-mistakes minute markers here: First, if I were a big, fancy, DTLA restaurant with “a beautiful atrium,” I’d tune in around 17:30, and have my host / bar staff in earshot (spoiler: he was ignored there recently). And second, tune in around 58:40 where he describes his displeasure with Alameda Supper Club for sending a comp course to the table: “I don’t like getting free food… I was pissed.”

The Lists – Bon Appétit came out with their long list of “50 Nominees for America’s Best New Restaurants 2019” on Tuesday, and almost immediately people like GrubStreet’s Chris Crowley called them out on Twitter: “Bon Appétit editor-at-large Andrew Knowlton's restaurant is on Bon Appétit's 50 best new restaurants, a list he was intimately involved with until this year… This shit is insulting to readers and the people who work and toil away in this industry.” The Post & Courier’s Hanna Raskin, speaking as president of the Association of Food Journalists, then called the list “tainted” in a write-up by WaPo’s new food writer Emily Heil. And on a lighter, more nostalgic note, as part of the Hot 10 rollout, Dallas native Hilary Cadigan named Dallas Bon Appétit’s “2019 Restaurant City of the Year” yesterday. Alright alright.

The Profile Treatment – The NYT’s Brett Anderson profiled Ann Kim, full of deserved confidence and modern angst in Minneapolis as she builds out her next location, Sook & Mimi. “Ms. Kim is also wary of any hint of cultural appropriation — a charge often leveled these days at chefs who work in cuisines they weren’t born into… [She] is at pains to frame her efforts to master new cuisines — she is trying to learn how to hand-grind nixtamalized corn, and will travel to Spain this month to explore how churros are made — as an exercise in respect, not acquisition. ‘I am not saying I’m the queen of tortillas,’ she said. ‘Let’s make that very clear.’”

Got it. Pull quote: “I’m the queen of tortillas” – Ann Kim.

The Suits – Headline in the SF Chronicle: “Judge calls for retrial in French Laundry pregnancy discrimination case.” Details (and recap if you need it) via Janelle Bitker: “‘It is obvious to the court that plaintiff met her burden of proving it was more likely than not that she was subjected to employment discrimination on account of her pregnancy,’ [the judge] wrote in the court order… The French Laundry plans to appeal.”

The Milestone – Love this caveat from Caleb Pershan in his Eater article about how Belinda Leong baked Cecilia Chang a big cake for her 100th birthday: “In 2018, Leong interviewed Chiang about her life for a feature story on Eater. At the time, Chiang was a young 98 years old — so by that math…”

The d’Or – On Tuesday, three teams were announced as finalists in the competition to represent Team USA at the next Bocuse d’Or in 2021. In ordered head chef and commis pairs, they are: Nyesha Arrington (LA) and Michael Sansom (Yountville); Jeffery Hayashi (Honolulu) and William Barrerra (Honolulu); and Scott Muns (D.C.) and Yuta Umeki (NYC). Good luck, all!

And last but not least – If you, like millions, have been lulled into pastoral peace via videos of China’s Li Ziqi making things from scratch (mostly food, but everything from “a simple home cooked breakfast” to bamboo furniture), you will be happy to learn that the normally silent Li has a voice, and was recently interviewed by the South China Morning Post’s Goldthread team. That video posted today. I have questions. For instance, all we learn of her working life before her video career is: “When she turned 14, Li went to work in the city. In 2012, she decided to return to the countryside.” Yadda yadda yadda, multi-million subscriber food video star. Cool.

And that’s it for today. Thanks much to everyone who sent Beirut tips! I’ll be there Monday to Thursday, so if Tuesday’s Family Meal is late, please blame… Beirut.

I’ll see you here sometime around then.

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