Fee scrutiny, Top Chef publicity, Michelin tease, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, March 10, 2023
And a big GOOD LUCK from Hong Kong to everyone with an F&B business in Austin, TX this week. I hope all those visitors give you all their money.
Tuesday’s paid edition is copy / pasted below as usual. If you want to get Family Meal on Tuesdays too…
Let’s get to it…
The Fees – Seems the consumer noise around restaurant fees (service! health care! covid!) has reached government-attention levels. Washington DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb tweeted this week: “DC consumers: Are you seeing restaurants in DC charge deceptive fees? That is illegal. We released a new Q&A on what types of fees are and are not allowed, and how to report it to our office if you’ve been charged deceptive fees.”
According to the post, illegally deceptive fees are those that are hidden, not disclosed upfront, not used for what they say, or ambiguous enough as to cause confusion.
“Are there consequences for violating the law?
Yes…. If our office finds that a business has violated the law by failing to adequately disclose or describe fees charged to diners, we could seek refunds for consumers, penalties, and changes to the restaurant’s practices.”
Said a shady restaurateur (probably): “Oh no. Not refunds.”
Lists I like – Another season, another round of those helpful “Most Anticipated Restaurants” lists from Eater. So far I see Austin; Chicago; Dallas; LA; NYC; Portland, OR; and DC.
Lists que me molesta – It’s always tease, tease, tease. Michelin dropped six new 2023 California guide “selections” this week. No idea where they will be ranked in the actual book, but congrats to: Bansang (SF); Leona’s Sushi House (LA); Niku X (LA); Selanne Steak Tavern (Laguna Beach); Sushi Yuen (LA); and Mabel’s Gone Fishing (San Diego). Official announcement here.
And last but not least: The Top Chef treatment – Nothing new in this Brett Anderson write-up on Top Chef and the Magical Elves production team behind it, but it’s a long (kind of) behind-the-scenes look if you’re interested, and I did love this quote early on:
“‘We want to hear “Michelin star,” “James Beard Award,”’ said [producer Doneen Arquines] as [producer Steve Lichtenstein] toggled back and forth between camera angles. ‘And sprinkle in some personality.’”
But just a sprinkle.
And that’s it for today! Except of course for Tuesday’s paid edition, which is copy / pasted below as usual. If you’d like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays too…
I’ll see paying subscribers back here on Tuesday, and everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or some personality to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, please chip in here. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!
Here begins the Family Meal that went out to paid subscribers on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023:
Baldor down, Mr. Beef gone, Bastianich AF, and more...
Short and sweet this morning.
Let’s get to it…
The Outage – In NYC, chefs around the city “report they’ve had difficulty getting any deliveries from [major East Coast wholesaler] Baldor due to a total system outage that has left everyone scrambling to adjust.” Grubstreet’s Chris Crowley reports: “Naturally, the rumor mill has started to churn, with other operators telling us they’ve heard stories of ‘a virus’ or possible hack affecting Baldor. When asked about that hacking rumor, a Baldor sales rep replies, ‘I have no comment on that, sorry.’ Instead, he describes the problems as an update gone awry: ‘We’re doing some kind of upgrade and we’re just experiencing an average system outage,’ he says. ‘That’s all there is.’”
The sales rep:
Some Sad News – “The founder of Mr. Beef, the legendary Italian beef stand that’s served River North for more than 40 years and became the inspiration for The Bear television show, has died. Joe Zucchero died on Wednesday, March 1, at Rush Medical Center in Chicago after fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for more than two decades. He was 69.” Ashok Selvam has an obituary in Eater.
Michelin Season – Stars are out in France this week, and it sounds a bit like a year of downgrades... Per Tara Patel in Bloomberg, “In total, 25 restaurants lost stars. Besides the two 3-star spots [Guy Savoy and Christopher Coutanceau] that lost their top ranking, three formerly two star spots were downgraded to one star.” Full list here.
P.S. - The pedantic among us will be excited to note that Michelin’s press release has guide director Gwendal Poullennec referring to new 3-star La Marine as “worth the detour,” which is actually (ac-tu-a-lly) the definition of a 2-star spot…
And last but not least: Michelin Smichelin – Not sure how you could’ve missed this, but just in case… Foodable, the “next-generation” hospitality media company founded by a guy who dropped restaurants for crypto sometime in the last few years, has launched the “CHEF AF” rating system. As you can probably tell by this very real image, it is awesome. Awesome AF.
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see everyone back here on Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or an average system outage to email@example.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, please chip in here. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!