Chang implores, Tosca transforms(?), Pastry galore, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, August 9th, 2019

Hello Friday,

And Happy Gross Day! (Pretty sure as of today there are exactly 144 days left in the year - a gross of days - so now I’m calling it Gross Day. Get it? You’re welcome.)

Let’s get to it…

The Implorsion – Headline in the Washington Post: “José Andrés and David Chang implore restaurant investor Stephen Ross: Don’t raise money for Trump.”

Ross is about to host a Hamptons fundraiser for the president, so now all his various business interests are being called to account online (e.g. here’s Pete Wells spreading the news on Twitter). Brief rundown on those food-sector interests from Maura Judkis: “Ross is the New York real estate developer behind Hudson Yards... and chairman and co-founder of RSE Ventures, an investment company that lists among its investments Bluestone Lane Coffee; Chef David Chang’s Momofuku; &pizza, the fast-casual pizza chain founded in the District; Outstanding Foods, a plant-based-food company; Banza, a maker of legume-based pastas; online reservations service Resy; and June, a company that makes smart ovens. Tenants in Hudson Yards include Chang’s restaurants Fuku, Kawi and Peach Mart, as well as chef José Andrés’s Mercado Little Spain, chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and TAK Room, and Blue Bottle Coffee.”

Both Andrés and Chang released implore statements with three main elements: The president is bad. Steve Ross is good. Please, Steve, don’t do this.

Andrés was relatively tame on Twitter, while Chang was more blunt on a special six-minute episode of his podcast yesterday (SpotifyApplePlayerFM):

“I personally am a staunch opponent to President Trump, and everything he stands for. I fucking hate him… Steve was the only potential investor who believed in the vision of what Momofuku could be, and offers us the freedom to seek that out. Nevertheless, we’re on the wrong side here. The fact is our investor is supporting the campaign of a person I emphatically stand against. Steve, if you’re listening… I respect and admire you as a businessman. You have been a champion of all the values of Momofuku. You’ve done a great deal for us as a company. And I truly appreciate it. But I’m imploring you to reconsider hosting this fundraiser. It flies in the face of everything we believe in at Momofuku. It frightens many of the people who work for you. And it contradicts what I hope to accomplish by taking your money in the first place. We will have to figure all of this out, somehow.”

Guess we’ll figure out what “somehow” means soon, because earlier in the same episode Chang says, “Talk is cheap, we must show it in action.”

They Come Collect – Headline in Vice: “Yelp is Screwing Over Restaurants By Quietly Replacing Their Phone Numbers.” Reporter Adrianne Jeffries says, “A few months ago, I opened the Yelp app, typed in the name of my favorite sushi restaurant, and clicked on the phone number. Two options popped up: ‘Delivery or Takeout’ and ‘General Questions.’ That’s new, I thought. I dialed the number for ‘Delivery or Takeout,’ which played a perky greeting—‘This call may be recorded to ensure awesomeness’—before a woman at the restaurant picked up. I asked why they were recording the call for awesomeness; she had no idea what I was referring to.... As it turns out, the number listed for ‘General Questions’ in the Yelp app is the restaurant’s real number. The number listed for ‘Delivery or Takeout’ is owned by Yelp partner Grubhub.” Neat trick!

The (Pastry) Profile Treatment – For Eater, Charlotte Druckman has a profile of Zoë Kanan, head baker at Simon & the Whale in NYC’s Freehand Hotel: “Most of all, her trajectory has been a lesson in the significance of having mentors in your corner. It was [Melissa Weller of Sadelle’s] who recommended her protege to run the baking department at Vaucluse, the Alta Marea Group’s French restaurant on the Upper East Side. When Kanan got the job, it was also Weller who gave her a crash course in lamination and leavening and answered all her questions each time she was faced with a new hurdle. And when [Christina Tosi] heard that restaurateur Gabriel Stulman, founder of Happy Cooking Hospitality, needed someone to oversee the pastry program at his new project—the food and beverage venues at the soon-to-open Freehand — she gave him Kanan’s name.”

So you’re saying… don’t burn bridges? Oooooooh.

And speaking of pastry – Per Chris Crowley, “Karen DeMasco… one of the greats of the New York food world, the sort of pastry chef who commands her own fanatical following… is joining Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, ABC Cocina, and abcV as the executive pastry chef.” Details in Grubstreet.

The Close – Via Andrea Chang in the LAT, “Pastry chef Nicole Rucker is closing Fiona, her Fairfax Avenue restaurant, after nine months in business. Rucker announced the news in an Instagram post Thursday afternoon, calling the decision a ‘difficult and personal one.’ Fiona will close for good on Sunday.”

The Rebirth – The SF Chronicle’s Justin Philips reports that now that April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman say they are officially out at Tosca Cafe, “Taking over Tosca are Nancy Oakes, the chef-owner of Boulevard; Anna Weinberg, the restaurateur behind popular local restaurants like Marlowe and Park Tavern; and Ken Fulk, the designer responsible for a number of posh restaurants and clubs across the country, including the Battery in San Francisco and Carbone in Las Vegas…. The goal is to have Tosca back open by winter.”

What it will look like is anyone’s guess, but obvious Ken Fulk superfans like Camper English are already gushing on Twitter, “Oh great, what Tosca needs is some zebra print and pink lucite chandeliers.”

De gustibus, etc.

And that’s it for today. Which is Gross Day. Whether you think it’s fetch or not.

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

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