Discover more from Family Meal
F&W's big list, Hominy Grill closes, Gjerde's candid affair, and more...
Family Meal - Wednesday, April 10th, 2019
Good morning from beautiful Fayetteville, Arkansas, where we spent last night drinking $5 Woodford manhattans at Mockingbird Kitchen and watching kids who’ve basically never seen video games run the wide aisles of Arkadia Retrocade, a 1980s arcade game temple next door. If we don’t make it to St. Louis tomorrow, it’s because that BurgerTime high score is MINE.
Let’s get to it…
The List – Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2019 list is out, and Jordana Rothman says, “The hunt for the 31st annual class… turned up 10 rising stars who are lighting the way forward for American cuisine.” They are: Kwame Onwuachi—Kith/Kin, D.C.; Misti Norris—Petra and the Beast, Dallas; Mutsuko Soma—Kamonegi, Seattle; Matthew Kammerer—Harbor House Inn, Elk, CA; Nite Yun—Nyum Bai, Oakland; Caroline Glover—Annette, Aurora, CO; Paxx Caraballo Moll—Jungle BaoBao, San Juan; Brandon Go—Hayato, LA; and Bryan Furman—B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, Atlanta and Savannah. Worthwhile mini-profiles and bigger thoughts from Rothman are all here.
The Close – Headline in the Post & Courier: “Hominy Grill, celebrated pillar of downtown Charleston’s culinary scene, is closing.” An obituary of sorts from Hanna Raskin follows, with commentary from owner Robert Stehling and notes on how “celebrating simple food” can translate into national notoriety: “[Stehling’s] passion resonated with Johnny Apple, The New York Times’ legendary political correspondent and roving gourmand. Apple in 2000 gave Hominy Grill a rave review, proposing its breakfasts ‘may well be the best breakfasts in the Carolinas, which means some of the best in America.’ He praised the fried green tomatoes on Hominy’s BLTs, the lard in its biscuits and the rubbed sage in its gravy. Two years later, Stehling’s bacon-roasted turkey was featured on the front cover of Food & Wine magazine’s Thanksgiving issue.”
P.S. – The news of the close was so big in the Charleston food world, the Post & Courier put out a push notification for cell phones.
The Revamp – In LA, “Even more big changes are coming to Simone, the at-times struggling Arts District restaurant opened by chef Jessica Largey and Avengers director Joe Russo just last fall.” Per Eater LA’s Farley Elliott, the entire space will rebrand under what was the bar area’s name, Duello, and “be overseen by chef Jason Beberman.” Good luck to them! (The comments section doesn’t give much of a fighting chance, but does it ever?)
The Profile Treatment: Bared Soul Edition – “Like most of us, Amy Gjerde is still a work in progress, shedding her shyness and finding her voice at age 46. For the co-owner of Woodberry Kitchen, Artifact Coffee, Sandlot, Bird in Hand, A Rake’s Progress in Washington, D.C., and partner at Foodshed, the restaurant group’s umbrella organization, the past few years have been challenging, to say the least. In 2015, after discovering that her husband, the James Beard Award-winning chef Spike Gjerde, arguably Maryland’s most famous culinary figure, was having an affair, her idyllic life—a successful career, two kids, pedigree pets, an American Institute of Architects award-winning Roland Park home—imploded.” And she is either not afraid to talk about it, or brave, or both. Probably both. Jane Marion has the complicated results in Baltimore Magazine.
The Profile Treatment: Viral Edition – The Chronicle’s Justin Phillips has this story of a viral tweet gone good in SF: “Simileoluwa Adebajo posted 42 words on Twitter on Friday morning, letting her 400 or so followers know she was quitting her job as a financial analyst to open a Nigerian restaurant in San Francisco. With a hashtag and a smile emoji, she hit send and took a nap, thinking the post wouldn’t garner much attention…. A few hours later, she woke to her phone vibrating. The post had gone viral after being retweeted more than 15,000 times and liked nearly 60,000 times.” The rest, as they say, is Eko Kitchen.
That Fast Casual $$$ - “Danny Meyer’s investment fund Enlightened Hospitality Investments is backing expansion efforts for [veggie-centric bowl chain Dig Inn] to the tune of $15 million, of which some money will go toward opening a full-service restaurant in the West Village… the funds will also be used to open more fast-casual locations in NYC as well as Boston and Philadelphia… Money will also go toward Dig Inn’s new delivery service, which will expand to first include all of downtown Manhattan and then the full borough, according to Dig Inn founder Adam Eskin. Eskin announced the new partnership Tuesday on Medium.” Details from Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya in Eater NY.
Food Is Hard – Eater DC reports that Urban Outfitters, which was totally going to get into restaurants and do great, has closed the DC location of Pizzeria Vetri only 7 months after buying the brand from Marc Vetri and his partners, due to “a shifting in [their] business priorities.” (The priority now, as before: $).
ATTN: Critics (an opportunity) – Full scholarships available: “Jack Jones Literary Arts is hosting its inaugural writing conference Culture, Too at the Kimpton Brice Hotel in Savannah, Georgia. This five-day conference will be held Monday, July 22nd- Saturday, July 27th, 2019, and is open exclusively to cultural critics of color. Fellows will apply in one of five disciplines: fine arts, food, popular culture, race, or gender and sexuality.… Soleil Ho, restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle will join us as the Food Ambassador.” Application deadline: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 midnight/PST. Details here.
And last but not least – Head back to Charleston for a minute for this innovative review from Hanna Raskin, who was pre-emptively banned from Malagon (owner Patrick Panella apparently told her his team was still pissed about a 3.5 star review of Chez Nous in 2014), and used the opportunity to tell the entire restaurant scene it’s time to grow up: “Charleston restaurants may collectively decide that they never want to grow up — they’d prefer to stay cute and cling to the folks they know instead of engaging with strangers from diverse backgrounds with different opinions. That’s an understandable inclination. But it also comes with consequences. For example, when’s the last time you traveled to hang out with a kid who didn’t belong to a friend or relative? In the grand scheme of things, immaturity isn’t super compelling. If Charleston wants to remain atop seemingly every list of great eating cities, it may have to surrender some of its more youthful tendencies.”
That’s not going to sit well with certain letter-to-the-editor writers of late, but I imagine that’s partly the point!
And that’s it for today.
Leaving Arkansas tomorrow for St. Louis, Raleigh-Durham, and Washington, D.C. Wish me luck, and I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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