Jam Scandal, Dumpling Scandal, Yonder Scandal, Cake.
Family Meal - Tuesday, July 14th, 2020
Greetings from Hong Kong, where our glorious (mostly) COVID-free streak has come to an end, and re-closure begins at midnight. F&B-wise, starting tomorrow: Bars closed, max table capacity at restaurants down to four people, and dine-in service banned from 6pm until 5am.
Let’s get to it…
The (Stateside) ReClosure – “Midday Monday, all indoor dining was ordered to cease in California for every one of the state’s 58 counties, even those that as of yet, had not demonstrated a problematic increase in cases of the new coronavirus.” Per Eater SF’s Eve Batey, “The decision follows a weekend roiled by shutdowns, as Alameda County learned that it hadn’t even been approved for outdoor dining (and, therefore, was required to cease it immediately), and Sonoma County was ordered to cease sit-down dining operations prior to the blanket shutdown… Governor Gavin Newsom announced that indoor operations must close for all restaurants and wineries, with only outdoor dining allowed, Eater LA reports. Bars without food must shutter all operations, Newsom said.”
And in Chicago, after Alinea’s rooftop concept had to close due to a dishwasher testing positive for COVID, Ashok Selvam says, “Internally, some workers are organizing in response to the company’s fourth closure during the pandemic… One Alinea Group restaurant worker tells Eater that a group of employees is considering writing management a letter demanding that they discontinue on-premise dining and focus on carryout operations. These workers worry about safety.”
The Jam – Headline of the year: “Sqirl Founder Jessica Koslow Promises to Throw Away Moldy Jam From Now On.” That’s from Matthew Kang’s write-up on the internet phenomenon that was the mold-bucket scandal of yesterday. I don’t pretend to be an expert on jam, but per Koslow’s apology for that side of things on Twitter, she makes low sugar jam, “And put simply, low sugar jam is more susceptible to the growth of mold.” That mold grew on the vats of jam she made for the restaurant, and Sqirl employees allege the strategy for dealing with that growth was to treat it almost the same way Taylor Swift treats haters: Scrape it off. That might be fine except the Washington Post’s Emily Heil got in touch with the very mycologist Koslow cited to legitimize the practice, and turns out… it’s not fine. And on top of that, per Heil, “The complaints soon went beyond the moldy jam. Employees accused Koslow of hiding the operation from health inspectors by closing off an ‘unvented’ and ‘illegal’ kitchen where the jam was stored. According to conversations that [food blogger Joe Rosenthal posted on Instagram], employees claimed that they were shut into the darkened kitchen during health inspections.”
And on top of that, “Former Sqirl chef de cuisine Javier Ramos wrote in an Instagram comment that Koslow ‘took credit’ for his work and that he ‘didn’t get recognition or payment for the recipes that I contributed to the cookbook.’ Former chef Ria Dolly Barbosa similarly said that her contributions to the cookbook weren’t acknowledged and that she wasn’t paid or credited for recipes she wrote on behalf of Sqirl for Bon Appétit and Food & Wine magazines. Koslow ‘took credit for the first two years I was her chef there,’ she wrote.”
Koslow’s big jam cookbook is due for release one week from today. Oof.
The Portland Mess – Meant to include this last week, but: “This Fourth of July weekend, the [Portland, Oregon] restaurant industry only had eyes for one kind of fireworks: Those on the Instagram account of chef Maya Lovelace, who spent four days posting accusations of abuse, mismanagement and toxic behavior at some of the city’s best-known restaurants.” Then, according to The Oregonian’s Michael Russel, “several of Lovelace’s former employees began posting comments of their own, describing the ‘toxic work environment’ they said Lovelace had herself fostered at [her own restaurant] Yonder, including allegations of bullying and microaggressions as well as mistreatment of the restaurant’s sole Black employee.”
I’ve said it before — and it shouldn’t stop people from calling out bad behavior — but don’t forget to check the mirror! One day you’re making the omelet. Next day, you’re the eggs…
You Win Son … – Meanwhile in Brooklyn, Eater NY’s Erika Adams says, “Win Son Co-Founder Trigg Brown Steps Away Following Allegations of Hostile Work Environment.” Where this “toxic workplace culture” falls on the public shaming spectrum of bad behavior allegations is still unclear to me, but in the (saved) Instagram stories that first made the accusations, others alleged that on top of the angry leadership issues, Brown was buying more than flour wholesale: “#1 best seller! The pan griddled pork buns… come from frozen bags.”
Don’t have a low sugar mold scandal in your kitchen? Store bought is fine.
And on top of all those scandals(?), I’m hearing lots of murmurs that we’re still waiting on more milk to spill at the Court of Master Sommeliers…. We shall see.
And Last and Least – I know most of you who have been on social media lately are done with the whole “Can you believe it’s cake?” trompe l’oeil thing. But if you look back over this newsletter and pull out all the italicized words, you’ll see that they are: Butter, Sugar, Eggs, Flour, Milk, and Baking Powder, so… this newsletter has been a recipe for cake. Ha! Hahahahahahahahhahaha. Ha. ha. haaaaaa.
And that’s it for today.
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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