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Family Meal- Friday, October 28, 2022
And hello from a broad swath of open land on the downtown waterfront in beautiful Hong Kong SAR, where I keep trying to say they should plant a wheat field, but because no one ever listens to me, they are currently showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at 7PM.
Apparently, even though the authorities removed Batman: The Dark Knight from the schedule late last week due to “violence” or whatever, I still get to watch Tim Curry murder Meatloaf under the stars.
Hot Patootie, bless my soul.
Tuesday’s paid version is copy / pasted below as usual, but that said…
I have read through every article I could this week, and the only stuff I thought was Family Meal style interesting was all the chatter around Initiative 82 in Washington DC, where voters are (once again) deciding whether or not the tip credit is worth keeping in the District.
The Washingtonian’s Jessica Sidman has an explainer for voters.
Jose Andres is against it.
One Fair Wage is for it.
And I still don’t think the public — nationwide — has any idea of the nuance behind both sides. Both sides!
But I also don’t see many big, alternative, non-status-quo proposals, especially from the biggest names in the industry. SO… If you have real ideas for dealing with this issue (especially if you are Jose Andres!), lmk.
Beyond that, all I have for non-paying subscribers this week is…
The Podcast – I went out for a bit of a decadent one last night, and my friend invoked the wine pairing, which means you get to answer the question you’ve always wondered: What would it sound like if I met Andrew on the sidewalk after a night out and had a 25 minute conversation with him and Expedite’s Kristen Hawley about restaurant news, World Central Kitchen’s international restaurant impact, DoorDash, Gaggan in HK, and Thomas Keller definitely, maybe, 100% being the guy behind the RH furniture store / restaurant phenomenon?
And so… that’s it for today! Except of course for Tuesday’s Family Meal which is copy / pasted below.
I will see paying subscribers back here 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 violence or whatever 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 paying subscribers on Tuesday, October 25, 2022:
Rats! Millions! Media! Markle! More!
And hello to paying subscribers only! Sorry for all the exclamation points. Two out of three kids are sick and I’m running on fumes. Fumes!
Let’s get to it…
The Cover – On New York magazine’s cover this week: Simon van Zuylen-Wood’s “Plywood Gourmet; How thousands of restaurants speedily, messily, and probably permanently took over the street.” It’s a longread first history of the dining shed era (very specifically in NYC), most of which those of you who lived through it already know. But there are some great anecdotes, including my favorite: “The streetery created a bunch of weird new markets in a golden moment for hustlers and entrepreneurs. As cold weather approached in the first COVID winter, Derek Kaye predicted that New York would reverse its long-standing ban on restaurants’ use of propane tanks for outdoor heating… In September 2020, he began buying up domain names: nycpropanedelivery.com, brooklynpropanedelivery.com, etc…. On October 14, [then mayor Bill de Blasio] signed an executive order allowing restaurants to use propane heaters. Within days, Kaye became New York’s go-to propane guy. He began with La Pecora Bianca’s handful of locations, then expanded to Café Luxembourg, Little Owl, Bluestone Lane, and more… Kaye would buy propane for $20 and sell it for as much as $30. At the peak of winter, he says, he was delivering to as many as 400 restaurants.”
And then there’s the cover. About those rats… I saw more than one person on Twitter claim hyperbole, but per van Zuylen-Wood, “Rat sightings are way up. According to the Daily News, the city received 21,577 rat complaints through the first nine months of the year, up from 16,000 in all of 2019.”
The WhoDunnit – In Priya Krishna’s NYT dip into the Restoration Hardware restaurants that have been opening all over the place — and grossing $10M each apparently! — she reports RH CEO “Gary Friedman, a former president of Williams-Sonoma… said he turned to ‘arguably the best chef in the world’ for advice on the restaurants’ menus, though he declined to name the chef. When asked who runs RH’s culinary program, a company publicist said ‘there is not a named chef for the restaurants.’”
“Arguably” may be doing a lot of work there. Or is it you?
The Media – In Miami, Herald food writer Carlos Frías says he’s moving on. “After six amazing years at the Miami Herald, I’m leaving for a fantastic, unexpected opportunity. I’ll be the new host of WLRN Sundial on WLRN 91.3 FM, our NPR station.” Frías tells me he’s looking forward to collaborating with the team there on building the show together, and, “We all want food to be major part of it.” He also says that as he understands it, the Herald will be hiring a replacement for him, “And I reiterated that I hope they hire someone who reflects Miami’s diversity and knows the city.”
And last but not least: FOH Confidential? – Coming out December 6th: “Your Table is Ready: Tales of a New York City Maitre D” by former Le Coucou (and many more) maître d' Michael Cecchi-Azzolina. Back cover description: “A front-of-the-house Kitchen Confidential from a career maître d’hotel who manned the front of the room in New York City's hottest and most in-demand restaurants.” Judging by Jeanette Settembre’s preview in the NY Post, sounds like we’re going to get a lot less “don’t order the fish on a Monday,” and a lot more “you’ll never guess who ordered the fish on a Monday… and didn’t tip!”
Celebrities in the crosshairs so far: Meghan Markle, Naomi Campbell, Tony Robbins, Dennis Rodman, and Keith McNally’s bestie, Anna Wintour. (Meanwhile, Conan O’Brien got some sort of social media extra credit this week for apparently firing a staffer who was rude to a server?)
Ah, celebrities. Ah, humanity!
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see you all back here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or arguably the best chef in the world 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!