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Gold memorials, Grubhub's buy, Yelp's secrets, Addison's 18, and more...
The Family Meal - Friday, July 27th, 2018
A quick bit of housekeeping before we get started: This is the first Family Meal coming to you from Substack instead of MailChimp. Here’s hoping nothing breaks.
The nice thing about Substack is it gives you, dear reader, a way to contribute should you so desire. No new paywall, but you now have the option to become a “paid subscriber.” This niche little newsletter takes a lot of time and effort. I hope you’ll consider chipping in to help keep it sustainable.
And whether you chip in or not, this is a good opportunity to say thank you to the thousands of you – mostly chefs, restaurateurs, GMs, and FOH/BOH staff, plus a bunch of real estate types, PR people, designers, food media folks, and general restaurant fans – who read Family Meal each week. You give me the good kind of anxiety right before I hit send. Thanks!
OK, let’s get to it…
The Score – “Starting Tuesday, Yelp is expanding across the nation a controversial program that pulls health-inspection data from government databases and places it directly on a restaurant’s page on the user-generated review site.” Fine. But as the Washington Post makes clear here, Yelp doesn’t just pull that data, it’s working with a company called HDScores to decide what that data means: “In Washington, the Food Safety and Hygiene Inspection Services Division doesn’t issue scores. D.C. inspectors file reports that list violations of varying importance and urgency. Because these reports are basically hieroglyphics to the average diner, HDScores will take the raw data and translate it into a score, from 1 to 100. Yelp declined to share the methodology that HDScores uses to determine the scores”.
Yelp! Promoting radical transparency from a locked, windowless room since 2004.
The Lists – Eater’s national critic Bill Addison is out with his annual Best New Restaurants in America list. This year’s 18: “Bavel, Los Angeles; Bywater American Bistro, New Orleans; Canard, Portland; Carnitas Lonja, San Antonio; Cote, New York; Dialogue, Los Angeles; Elda, Biddeford, ME; Frenchette, New York; Kamonegi, Seattle; Hai Hai, Minneapolis; Hello, Sailor, Cornelius, NC; Majordomo, Los Angeles; Nyum Bai, Oakland, CA; Maydan, Washington DC; Suerte, Austin; Theodore Rex, Houston; True Laurel, San Francisco; Pacific Standard Time, Chicago”. Congrats all! Pics, write-ups, and details here.
And speaking of Hello, Sailor, here’s chef Justin Burke-Samson discussing how homophobia almost made him quit the industry, until he made the move to Kindred in NC (owned by Hello, Sailor’s Joe and Katy Kindred) and experienced what good kitchen culture could be. Good enough to make Addison’s list…
The Lists too – Late to this, but SF Magazine named their Best Chef’s of 2018 last week. Chef of the Year: Reem Assil; Rising Star: Chris Yang; Pastry Chef: Riley Redfern; Beverage Director: Nicolas Torres; and for Restaurateur: Dominique Crenn.
Delivery Wars – On Wednesday, Grubhub announced it was buying LevelUp for $390M cash. “Whereas previous acquisitions, such as Eat24 in October 2017, were intended to help GrubHub scale, LevelUp is about strategic positioning and technological integration. POS integration is LevelUp's core competency…. ‘The end game of this is that GrubHub would be the only POS partner, as opposed to sharing the delivery system’ with others, such as Caviar, DoorDash and Uber Eats, [investor Matthew DiFrisco] said.” Grubhub stock shot up 25% on the acquisition news and their second-quarter numbers. Details on CNBC.
GoFundHisFamily – There is a verified GoFundMe campaign for the family of Jonathan Gold in L.A. It blew past the original goal of $70,000 on day one and is now hurtling towards $100k to help cover immediate expenses and education costs for his kids. Good.
An update also reads: “On Saturday, July 28, in honor of what would have been Jonathan’s 58th birthday, the community will come together for a special tribute in which many of the city's buildings and landmarks will display messages and be lit in gold. These include L.A. City Hall, the new headquarters of the L.A. Times in El Segundo, the pylons at LAX and many others. A public memorial is being planned for Sunday, August 26. The location and additional details will be announced soon. We hope to see you there.”
Awards Season – Per FDL: “Jock Zonfrillo is the winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize 2018. The ‘very happy’ Scottish/Australian chef from Orana restaurant in Adelaide, Australia will now be awarded 100,000 euros to go towards The Orana Foundation, a charity safeguarding the culinary tradition of the first Australians.”
Michelin Season – This week, “Five restaurants received their very first Michelin star in the third edition of Michelin Guide Singapore, bringing the number of one-starred-restaurants in Singapore to 34. There are no restaurants celebrated with three stars this year, the restaurants with two stars last year kept their accolades… the latest edition sees Burnt Ends, Nouri, Sushi Kimura, Ma Cuisine and Jiang-Nan Chun, receiving their very first Michelin stars.” Digital guide here. Hong Kong gloating here.
The Fallout – A few days after saying he didn’t know his landlord at Graffiato was suing him for rent when asked by a reporter, Mike Isabella has closed that flagship location in D.C. I’d repeat his reasoning here, and say his plans for the future sound solid, but fool me once...
The Media – Vice’s Munchies site has a new editor: Hanna Keyser, previously of Deadspin. Tell PR she’s a baseball fan.
For design fans - “Style icon Rossana Orlandi’s taste for quality is reflected in her new Milan restaurant, bistRo Aimo e Nadia.” Yes, it’s way, way over the top (think: dinosaur spoon), but wallpaper fans will love it, and I mostly included this Vogue Australia photo spread for the pictures of Orlandi herself. She would be unimpressed.
And last but not least – A dispatch from Japan, via the Guardian: “The Sekishoin Shukubo guesthouse offers tourists the chance to stay in an ancient Buddhist temple in Mount Kōya, a World Heritage-listed site south of Osaka. But some customers got more than they bargained for when they left critical comments on booking-dot-com… [In one exchange], a customer said there was no heating outside the bedroom and the ‘strange’ meals were ‘quite unlike any food I’ve ever tasted’, prompting the reply: ‘Yeah, it’s Japanese monastic cuisine you uneducated fuck.’” The replier: A resident monk. #OneHandClappingBack
And that’s it for today. I’m off to scrape the LinkedIn accounts of Yelp execs and publicly rank their lifetime earning potential via secret algorithm.
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal!
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P.S. One last bit of housekeeping: I finally changed the address at the bottom of this email to reflect my current location: Hong Kong. Family Meal hasn’t changed. I still read what I read, talk to who I talk to, and people still send me what they send me (been here since October, notice?). And I’m still in and out of the States from time to time. The real news here is: If you’re coming through Hong Kong, you’ve got a newly-local cocktails and dumplings partner at your disposal. Please say hello. (And industry types, I’m looking to do more longform stuff: Maybe there’s a story in your trip?)