DeCarlo out, Trabocchi split, Michelin trips, Gelinaz denounces, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, December 6th, 2019
Back after a long Thanksgiving news slump, and coming to you this morning from beautiful Siem Reap, Cambodia, where the Angkor Photo Festival is featuring the work of Hong Kong restaurateur Todd Darling, who has been spending his nights photographing the protest frontlines lately. Adam Robb gave him the profile treatment in Saveur this week, and if you need some gallery-level moonlighting inspiration, some of the photos from Darling’s show are up on his own website here.
Let’s get to it…
The Split – In DC, “Fabio and Maria Trabocchi seemed to be the perfect back-of-the-house/front-of-the-house couple: He was the gifted, exacting chef, while she was the chic hostess with a knack for charming VIP patrons. But the glamorous power couple, whose dining empire grew to eight restaurants… divorced last month. The couple’s split was finalized on Nov. 6, according to court records, following 19 years of marriage and a separation that began this spring.” Shot: “Fabio Trabbochi… said ‘nothing will change in the restaurants’ and that the couple will continue to work together.” Chaser: “Mentions of Maria appear to have been removed from the websites associated with the restaurants.” Details: Via Emily Heil in the Washington Post.
The Handover – “At the end of the month, the chef Frank DeCarlo will… walk out of Peasant, the [NYC] restaurant he has owned for 20 years, for the last time… The chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione, whose namesake restaurant has served contemporary food since 2008, is buying Peasant. Although the menu will slowly change, Peasant will keep its name and its basic, straight-from-the-hearth style.” Part profile, part torch-passing tale, part NYC restaurant history lesson, this Amelia Nierenberg NYT piece is worth a read. Taking some liberties with ellipses, my favorite line: “The two chefs poked at a bundle of clams…. ‘I trust these guys,’ he said.”
The Midwest Moves – Headline in the Chicago Tribune: “Chef Tony Mantuano leaves Spiaggia, Chicago’s best Italian restaurant, after nearly 35 years.” Phil Vettel says Mantuano thinks it’s the right time to go, and is proud of his legacy “of the chefs who rose under his tutelage, particularly Missy Robbins, Sarah Grueneberg (both James Beard award winners), Joe Flamm and [current exec chef Eric Lees].”
The Listes – ICYMI, per Florence Fabricant in the NYT: “For the second year in a row, La Liste, a global restaurant-ranking system from France, has named Le Bernardin the best restaurant in the world. And like last year, it shares the honor with Restaurant Guy Savoy” And also with Ryugin and Sugalabo in Japan as far as I can tell, but honestly, like the World Cup qualifying rounds, this thing is too massive, unwieldy, and full of four-way ties for me. Still… Congrats, all!
The Dumbass – As part of his Gelinaz Shuffle switch this year, Italian chef Giancula Gorini cooked food from Victor Liong’s Lee Ho Fook in Australia. Then he took pictures... “The Instagram post, now deleted but captured by restaurateur Jen Agg, shows Gorini and the kitchen staff (along with a child) wearing Asian conical hats and some of the staff pulling back the corners of their eyes… By [the next] morning, Gorini deleted the post, and replaced it with an apology accompanied by a photo of him basically going ‘aww, fiddlesticks’ and looking like a kid who accidentally glitter-glued his art project to his desk.” In other words, he had an apology photo shoot for his photo shoot. Jaya Saxena has the details (and photos) in Eater, including a statement from Gelinaz in which they ban Gorini from future events, and donate the proceeds of his last dinner to an anti-racism organization. This, because, “The goal of Gelinaz! is to denounce the rise of cleavages, clichés, withdrawal, populist and identity drifts.” Neat? Give you $20 if you can find language like that on their site…
The Media – Reminder from Silvia Killingsworth on Twitter: “CALLING ALL FOOD EDITORS/WRITERS: December is the last month to submit for Best American Food Writing 2020! Please send your most delicious pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org” And a reminder from me on Twitter: James Beard Award deadlines are fast approaching for Broadcast Media (12/9), Journalism (12/16), and Restaurant Design (1/20/20). Good luck, all!
The Opportunity – Spread the word in NOLA: “Diageo Learning Skills for Life is a FREE 4-week training program that opens career pathways in bartending and hospitality while providing life skills to underserved members of our New Orleans community. Students receive employment assistance, professional certifications, and skill sets for leading a sustainable lifestyle and pursuing a lifelong career of service excellence.” Applications due December 13. Details here.
The Surrender – Per a press release: “All of the 14,000 restaurants selected by the Michelin Guide inspectors worldwide will be clearly identified with their ratings Star, Bib Gourmand and Plate distinctions on the TripAdvisor website and apps leading to significantly improved accessibility of the Michelin selection.” In other words, Michelin could never get online traction on their own site, so they threw in the towel and are now just an ancillary “expert” rating on TripAdvisor? Or maybe this is that three-dimensional chess strategy stuff I keep hearing about? Thoughts?
And last but also maybe first: The Rank – Speaking of TripAdvisor… In her Eater piece on “The Complicated, Problematic Influence of TripAdvisor Restaurant Reviews,” Diana Hubbell finds that, “In New York, possibly no one is winning more from TripAdvisor than the Group, a local restaurant conglomerate that serves some 10,000 customers each month. Currently, four of the top 10 slots on TripAdvisor’s New York restaurant rankings are owned by the company: Olio e Piú; Boucherie West Village, a 320-seat French brasserie opened by a former Pastis chef; and its spinoffs, Boucherie Union Square and Petite Boucherie. None of these restaurants are on any critics’ hot lists, but all of them consistently dominate the upper echelons of TripAdvisor’s rankings.” Of course, “Upon closer examination of the Group’s TripAdvisor presence, certain irregularities become clear: More than 60 percent of the five-star reviews on Olio e Piú’s page come from user profiles that have never reviewed another restaurant. Prior to 2017, that figure was 5 percent. By comparison, at another West Village Italian restaurant, Via Carota, that statistic is currently 1 percent.”
There could be innocent reasons for all of that, but if you want to know what Eater thinks, the web address for this story is: https://ny.eater.com/2019/12/5/20978234/tripadvisor-best-nyc-restaurant-rankings-scam.
And that’s it for today. Another five star newsletter according to new subscriber familymeallover3224290853924890 [at] aol [dot] com!
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
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