Festival $$$, MeToo comebacks, LeFavour gone, Corti profiled, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
Back from vacation, and back to our regularly scheduled programming (with some catching up to do).
Let’s get to it…
First, Some Sad News – “Bruce LeFavour, an eclectic, self-taught American cook who… helped created the early California cuisine movement, died on Oct. 4 at his home in Port Townsend, Wash. He was 84.” Highly recommend his full NYT obituary from Katharine Q. Seelye for several good chunks of industry history: “All his restaurants were off the beaten track. And yet, as Marian Burros, the longtime food writer for The New York Times, wrote in 1986 of his Paragon restaurant in Aspen, ‘It was the best the town had to offer and would have been equally successful in New York or San Francisco.’ The Paragon, which he ran from 1965 to 1974, managed to be both a hippie haven for counterculture royalty — the gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson was a frequent patron — and a top-notch go-to classic for foodies. ‘It is possible that the most imaginative menus in America per capita can be found in this little town 200 miles from Denver,’ Craig Claiborne, the influential restaurant critic for The Times, wrote during a visit to Aspen in 1969.”
Michelin Season – Yesterday, Michelin released the full list of NYC Bib Gourmands (Ryan Sutton has some useful analysis for Eater here). But the bigger news came last week, when they issued a press release announcing that the 2020 NYC guide would include restaurants in Westchester County for the first time. Asked for comment, one prominent upstate seed salesman ran his fingers through a field of tillering winter wheat and whispered only, “The flavor. The flavor.”
Awards Season – ATTN PR: Eater has issued a “public call for nominations” for its Eater Awards this year: “To nominate who you think deserves an award, let us know via this form by November 10, sharing your nominee(s) for each category and your reasoning. Eater editors will whittle down the nominees to four finalists, to be announced on November 18, in each of three categories…. Please note: All nominees should have either opened or come into their own in a new way since we declared the winners last year.” The entry form is universal, and details across cities are basically copy/pastes, so here’s a link to Eater DC’s for reference. Good luck!
That Festival $$$ – Charleston restaurant critic Hanna Raskin has a big piece on food festival math in the LA Times (via a commission from the Southern Foodways Alliance). Some sample numbers: “‘Austin Food + Wine Festival in 2016 reported $315,613 in revenue, according to tax records. Memphis Food & Wine collected $382,845 in the same year. And the Charleston Wine + Food Festival took in nearly 10 times as much, reporting $3,116,921 in revenue. With such large pools of money from which to draw, festivals’ spending decisions are carefully scrutinized by unpaid participants. Chefs across the Southeast can quote the Charleston Wine + Food Festival executive director’s salary ($104,143), and how much local and state tourism groups paid for the ‘Today’ show to film on festival grounds ($280,000)… According to [an internal audit], the [South Beach Food and Wine Festival] in 2017 generated just over $9 million in revenue.”
Oddly enough, despite a huge opportunity for national exposure, “Gillian Zettler, director of Charleston Wine + Food, declined to be interviewed for this story.”
The Accusations – In Chicago, “Three women have accused a high-profile former staffer at a popular downtown Chicago restaurant group of physical abuse. Each woman obtained a restraining order against Joshua Schatan, a former manager at Cochon Volant Brasserie, a bustling French restaurant in the Loop. In seeking the restraining orders, the three each alleged abuse that ranges from being tackled to being thrown out of a moving vehicle… Schatan did not respond to Eater’s multiple, repeated attempts to contact him.” Ashok Selvam lays out a lot of disturbing evidence against him in Eater Chicago.
The Comebacks? – Both Oakland’s Charlie Hallowell and Chicago’s Jacob Bickelhaupt stuck their thumbs out for redemption this past week. Bickelhaupt’s plea was a self-published, rambling, 20-minute YouTube video which is apparently episode 4 of season 1 of an uncomfortable new (unnamed) show. Quote from episode 1 (So You Want to Be a Chef): “I’m very proud to be a part of this [Chicago] community of chefs, even though I have my own issues, and, um, I’m not really accepted, uh, which is OK.” Lots of staring off into the distance – for both host and viewer. Penny for your thoughts, Chicago.
Hallowell got the NPR treatment from Tovia Smith on All Things Considered, which pissed off some in the food world who think he shouldn’t get any coverage at all (sample Kenji Lopez-Alt tweet: “He blew his second chance four chances ago. Stop giving this serial abuser a platform.”). I don’t know. On the one hand, we have to talk about the accused, including what happens to them after being accused, as part of the full story of MeToo. On the other, what we definitely don’t have to do is symbolically – and in the case of this NPR story, literally – give them the last word.
The Suits – In NYC, “A three-star Michelin chef allegedly burned through millions of his Manhattan restaurant partner’s money paying for jaunts to his own French vacation home and expenses for a Paris eatery, according to a lawsuit. Poultry maestro Antoine Westermann, who presides over several restaurants in France and is known for asking to be removed from the Michelin guide, was allegedly so freewheeling with the businessman’s cash as the pair opened Le Coq Rico in Manhattan, he ballooned the eatery’s $2.4 million budget to a fowl $6.9 million, Francis Staub claims.” Details and line items via Kathianne Boniello in the NY Post.
The Disclosure – “A few weeks ago, baristas at many of [Philadelphia’s] locally owned coffee shops began sharing how much they make on a Google spreadsheet. Now, baristas in a dozen U.S. cities and regions have followed suit.” It’s not just baristas either, there are GMs, bartenders, cashiers, servers, and more on the list, which makes for a good chunk of free (self-reported) data out there. The Inquirer’s Juliana Feliciano Reyes has the details, and Coworker.org has a Twitter thread with updated links to city-by-city sheets for your mining pleasure.
The Profile Treatment – Headline in the LA Times: “How Darrell Corti became a tastemaker in California food and wine.” Story from Jonathan Kauffman, with anecdotes of influence galore. One for the somm: “Under Corti’s influence, Bob Trinchero, winemaker at Sutter Home, had been bottling Amador Zinfandels and pressing some of the grapes into blush wine. In 1978, Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel emerged from fermentation far sweeter than Trinchero intended. Corti convinced Sutter Home that his store could sell it. Tens of millions of 1980s party throwers agreed.” Congrats, again and always, to the 80s.
For Design Fans – Eater DC has a Rey Lopez photo spread of a new ramen shop named Hatoba this week, and I like that the main wallpaper is a (slight) departure from the again-ubiquitous floral/animal/scene-y repetitions. It still looks like the print on a short-sleeve button-down shirt I can’t quite pull off, but there’s something shades-of-blue cool about that random-ish, map-boundary-esque geometric pattern. I mean, it wouldn’t work in my house, but…
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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P.S. – Hey, Bay Area readers: Planning a short work trip to SF next month and my dates are flexible. Anything in November worth moving flights for, please let me know!