Colicchio / Carter Kirschenbaumed, An profiled, DC talks, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
Bit of a slow news weekend (I’m sorry?), but before we begin:
A reminder that I’ll be heading to Singapore next month to write about this year’s World’s 50 Best, and am lining up interviews / outings. If you or your team will be there, let me know! If not, what do you want to know, what would you look out for, and who would you want to talk to? Let me know via direct reply or Twitter DMs if you’ve got thoughts. Thanks!
Let’s get to it…
The Suits – In NYC, a Mr. Maimon Kirschenbaum is working on a couple new high profile projects… First, “A server who works catered events at the Financial District Beekman Hotel has filed a wage lawsuit against celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and his company that runs private dining events at Temple Court, his restaurant inside the hotel.” The server claims the company charges “staffing” and “administrative” fees to guests without properly disclosing that the money doesn’t go to staff. Details via Carla Vianna in Eater NY.
And second, another server is bringing a potential wage theft class action against Graydon Carter at the Waverly Inn. Vianna has those scant details here.
The Profile Treatment – This week, restaurateur Helene An will be honored with the Pioneer Award in Culinary Arts at a Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center celebration in LA, and Lizzy Saxe has the story behind the An family’s restaurant mini-empire in Eater. Lot of lemons-to-lemonade anecdotes there (though that metaphor doesn’t quite capture the sour side of refugee life…), but my favorite is this classic from her daughter Jacqueline An:
“‘Crustacean was losing $10,000 a month and my mother feared we would have to close it. Then San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer made an unannounced visit — and hated everything.’… Their loyal customers from Thanh Long were outraged to the point that David L. Beck from the San Jose Mercury News got wind of the controversy… He gave the restaurant five stars. ‘My mother saw the conflicting opinions as an opportunity,’... Helene An spent $15,000 to publish both reviews in a full-page ad asking the public to come and judge for themselves. It paid off... Seven years after the first Crustacean opened, they were ready to expand.”
The Media – In a move that came as a surprise to some staff – including the reader who sent me this tip – Skift Inc. is apparently shutting down its restaurant industry news site, Skift Table. Shame.
Meanwhile in SF, Chronicle Food & Wine editor Paolo Lucchesi tells me that with Maggie Hoffman moving on, the paper is looking for a new voice to work alongside Emma Silvers and Esther Mobley on the bar and beverage beat.
And congrats to all the writers who made the Association of Food Journalists Awards finalists list yesterday!
For Design Fans – Check out the before and after from One Off Hospitality’s Café Cancale née Anker in Chicago. Here are Marc Much’s photos of the space as Anker in late 2016, with its dark wood, open floor, and long communal tables. And here are Barry Brecheisen’s photos of the same space as Cancale now. I’m undecided on some elements in the new front room (especially that valance hiding the light fixtures above the bar?), but the boothy transformation in the far back is fantastic.
For Design Fans too – I love the classic look of the tiny Bar Pisellino from Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, but more than that, I love (and look forward to cursing) their dedication to romanticism, as described by Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite in the accompanying Grub Street write-up: “Williams and Sodi have a soft spot for the flimsy, scratchy, remarkably unabsorbent napkins they say you find in all the finest aperitivo bars in Italy. ‘They’re almost useless,’ says Williams, ‘but nostalgic for Rita and me.’” Fair enough!
And last but not least – Here’s the Washingtonian’s Jess Sidman with an insider piece on DC VIP perks. Every city has its feuding celebs and high rollers, but you’ll very much enjoy imagining some big-ego politicians recognizing themselves in anecdotes like this: “On a separate occasion, another prominent Democrat and Republican had reservations on the same night, and their favorite tables happened to be right next to each other. Paul Reosti, a [Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab] maître d’, tried to get the Republican to agree to another spot…. ‘I could try to talk [the Democrat into moving tables], but you’re a lot more diplomatic, a lot less stubborn than this gentleman is.’ The sycophancy worked.”
Somewhere in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan sips a diet Sprite, looks up from his Washingtonian, and whimpers, “Aw man…”
And that’s it for today. Short one, as promised!
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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