Chicago Bibs, Shanghai stars, CA legalizes, Batali closes, Isabella apologizes, Miles rules, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, September 21st, 2018
We are on the cusp of the Mid-Autumn Festival here in Hong Kong, and there are so many mooncakes in circulation that local co-working spaces are collecting surplus mooncakes to give to food banks. If you don’t see a Family Meal on Tuesday, it will be because either (A) September 24th is an official holiday or (B) I have eaten too many mooncakes. Or both. Probably both.
Let’s get to it…
Michelin Season – Chicago’s Bib Gourmands came out this week, and the full list is in the Tribune, where critic Phil Vettel notes, “It’s possible Bib recipients such as Avec, Fat Rice, Frontera Grill and Pacific Standard Time will view their recognition with mixed emotions.” (I’d be willing to put money on the makeup of that mix...)
And in Shanghai yesterday: “A total of 34 restaurants were bestowed with stars in the selection of the MICHELIN Guide Shanghai 2019, up from 30 last year.” Of note: While Ultraviolet retained its place in the top tier, T’ang Court lost a star and moved down to two. It’s now in that group with L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Imperial Treasure, Yi Long Court, Yong Foo Elite, Canton 8 (Runan Street), and newcomer Xin Rong Ji (Nanyang Road). Full list – including 25 single stars, and 26 Bib Gourmands – straight from the source, here.
“I probably should have apologized earlier” – Understatement of the month from Mike Isabella, who pled his post-bankruptcy case with the D.C. public via a video interview with Lauren DeMarco of Fox 5 this week.
The Close – “Huge Chelsea restaurant [La Sirena] will be the first Mario Batali NYC restaurant to close after the accusations against the celebrity chef… Despite a Michelin star, La Sirena has had hiccups since opening in 2016, and multiple sources have told Eater that sales were weakening even before the allegations against Batali.” Beth Landman and Irene Plagianos have the details in Eater NY.
The Franks – Also in NYC, Tejal Rao reports, “In November, [Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli] — owners of the Frankies Spuntino Group — plan to close their popular Germanic restaurant Prime Meats, which opened in 2009, and use the space to expand the dining room of Frankies 457 Spuntino, which will accept reservations for the first time, via Resy. They will also open a new wine bar in the space that is now the Prime Meats barroom, and a Sicilian-style pizza place up the street in their former coffee shop, Cafe Pedlar. They say they will later make some updates to their Frankies location in the West Village, known as Frankies 570 Spuntino.” Lots more detail in the NYT.
The Law – Headline in the East Bay Times: “Sidewalk vending is decriminalized across California…. California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill to make it easier for sidewalk vendors to operate legally in the state… The new sidewalk vending law will let cities and counties create permit programs for vendors and limits when they can be criminally prosecuted.”
The Crime – “The former OpenTable employee who made several hundred fake restaurant reservations [earlier this year] in an attempt to harm online reservation rival Reserve faces a charge of wire fraud… OpenTable wasn’t named in the U.S. Attorney’s lawsuit… The company did not know about the scheme: ‘[the employee] made the reservations on his own accord and did not personally profit from the scheme, the information states,’ according to the government.” Story via Ashok Selvam in Eater Chicago.
Midwest Moves – And also in Eater Chicago: “James Beard Award-winning chef [Zach Engel] is leaving New Orleans to open a restaurant in Chicago near the infamous Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park… [Engel] wants to open Galit early next year, according to a news release… The chef has already left Shaya restaurant and later this month he’ll leave his current job as culinary director at Pomegranate Hospitality Group.”
The Connections – The most interesting detail in yesterday’s Hudson Yards long read from Stefanie Tuder is not breaking news, but really focuses the mind when it comes to selecting potential investors: “Owned by Stephen Ross, Related [the many billion dollar company developing Hudson Yards in NYC], has many subsidiary businesses, one being a private investment firm called RSE Ventures. RSE holds a significant minority stake in Momofuku, Milk Bar, &pizza, and Bluestone Lane. Ross is also an owner of Equinox, while [CEO Kenneth Himmel] is an owner of Hudson Yards Grill. That means at least seven of the 25 available, valuable spaces directly funnel back to Related — a given, according to Himmel. ‘Of course we are [including them],’ Himmel says. ‘Ross couldn’t do a project without bringing all his brands over here, right?’”
(P.S. In the same breath the developers say the reason they couldn’t find any female-led fine dining places for the buildings is that the women they approached didn’t have the necessary capital, and the developers couldn’t bridge the financial gap themselves because then it “would have had to have become their full partner and the landlord, and it creates too many conflicts.” Checks out. Plus, can you imagine a chef being a minority owner in a restaurant they run? Insane.)
The Profile Treatment – Love this write-up on Tiantian Qui from Amy Scattergood in the LA Times: “Born and raised in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, Qiu moved to Shenzhen, a major city in Guandong that borders Hong Kong, when she was a teenager. She says she spent a lot of time in Guangzhou, Guandong’s capital — mostly eating.” The chef has a business degree from USC and is studying Interior Design at UCLA Extension to keep her student visa current while she works on tripling her location count. “Running three restaurants instead of one will be a trick, but it’s likely one that Qiu will sort out. ‘If there’s no homework,’ she says, pouring out another cup of tea, ‘I’m OK.’” Define “homework”.
TV Watch – Per Deadline: “NBC has put in development The Inn Crowd, a multi-camera comedy… The Inn Crowd is inspired by Tony Horwitz’s 1999 New Yorker article and centers around a gay couple who divide a small town when they open a very successful inn.” … A very successful inn called The Inn at Little Washington, which just earned its third Michelin star.
And last but not least: Toddler Watch – There is an important discussion of (California) industry improvements in paid family leave and daycare schemes in this SF Chronicle piece by Tara Duggan, but I can’t be the only parent who got stuck on the photo with this caption: “Haley Moore, beverage director at San Francisco’s Salt House, Town Hall, and Anchor & Hope restaurants, gets her work done at Town Hall with 4-month-old Miles in her lap.” The phrase “gets work done with 4-month old in lap” hurt my brain. Give everyone in that picture a raise.
And that’s it for today. FYI: According to Shape magazine in Singapore, you can work off the 105 calories in a single, 25 gram, “baked lotus paste mooncake” by doing housework for 30 minutes, so if you need me in the next 36 hours or so, I’ll be vacuuming. Aggressively.
I’ll see you here next week for next Family Meal.
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