Jamie Oliver's bad business, Eater's most anticipated, WaPo goes for woke, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, August 31st, 2018
Thus ends August.
Let’s get to it…
“That stuff” – The FT got Jamie Oliver (and more impressively, his embattled brother-in-law / CEO Paul Hunt) to talk this week about both his overall publicity problems and the more specific, recent troubles at the Jamie’s Italian chain: “‘We had simply run out of cash,’ he recalls, as we sit on a vintage sofa at Oliver headquarters in north London nine months later. ‘And we hadn’t expected it. That is just not normal, in any business. You have quarterly meetings. You do board meetings. People supposed to manage that stuff should manage that stuff.’ A surprisingly sharp tone in his voice suggests that someone let him down and he was none too pleased. Oliver was left with no choice but to instruct his bankers to inject £7.5m from his own savings into the restaurants. A further £5.2m of his own money would follow over the next few months. Last year, Oliver was said to be worth £150m. Even so, £12.7m is not the kind of money that slips down the back of a sofa, vintage or otherwise.” Full longread via Mark Edmonds here. (Might hit paywall.)
The Critics – Staying in London for a moment… The Evening Standard has announced that Jimi Famurewa will take over Grace Dent’s old role there. His intro article (with pics) is here.
Lists I like – Eater is finally out with their “Most Anticipated” lists for the Fall, including city by city notes on who’s opening what, and what local food media is focused on right now. On the big picture side of things, Hillary Dixler Canavan has a very useful guide to her Top 12 nationwide here, and they are…. Noosh (SF), Magna (Portland, OR), Nightshade (LA), Lamaii (Las Vegas), Little Fish (Seattle), Antico (LA), Fox and the Knife (Boston), Call Your Mother (D.C.), Field Trip (NYC), The Grey Market (Savannah), Madame Vo BBQ (NYC), and an as yet unnamed spot from Mari Katsumura (and Michael Olszewski) in the former Grace space in Chicago.
As for the rest, there are lists for: Atlanta - Austin - Boston - Charleston - Chicago - Dallas - Washington, D.C. - Detroit - Las Vegas - Los Angeles - Miami - Montreal - Nashville - New Orleans - New York City - Philadelphia - Portland, OR - San Diego - San Francisco - Twin Cities, MN, and London. Links to all are at the bottom of each article, so you can start wherever and jump around at will.
Predemption Song – GQ’s Marian Bull got Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy, NYC), Jen Agg (Le Swan, coming soon in Toronto), Gerardo Gonzalez (Lalito, NYC), Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Philly), Preeti Mistry (the late Juhu Beach Club, Oakland), and Tom Colicchio (local television personality) together to talk about the #metoo movement in restaurants and what’s next. A good chunk of the discussion is about managing kitchens sans yelling (entirely possible, per all), but the question of who gets to come back from disgrace, and if so, when, is first out the gate:
“Jen Agg: Of course they should divest. Preeti Mistry: They should just go the fuck away. … Tom Colicchio: I think it's too easy to say, ‘They should just go away.’ They're not gonna go away—they wanna try to make a living… Even if you come out of prison, you –” [interrupted]…
The very bad review – The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema gave D.C.’s big, new, pricey La Vie a brutal, zero-star critique yesterday: “You’d better have something in the fridge at home, because the likelihood of your joining the Clean Plate Club here is as good as Omarosa Manigault Newman getting invited to a Christmas party at the White House.”
Two points from this: First, recognizing ruthless reviews for the highly shareable click cows that they are, the WaPo PR team sent out a press release to help amplify the signal. Salt, meet wound. Second, wanna know where the goalposts are these days? Sietsema’s review goes point by point through a list of eight specific complaints. Number 5: “Plastic straws. A woke restaurant offers paper or reusable metal ones.”
The (100% buckwheat) Profile Treatment – “In West Oakland, in the predawn morning, Koichi Ishii does something few other chefs in the United States can: He makes soba by hand.” His story, and a slideshow, from Jonathan Kauffman in the SF Chronicle.
The Media – In LA, writer Jeff Weiss announced on Twitter that he was, “Introducing The LAnd, a new publication being launched by former staffers, editors, and contributors to LA Weekly, along with many other stellar LA journalists. By locals, for locals. In print and online. First issue before year's end.” There are some food-focused journos involved (think: Sarah Bennet), so keep this (@theLAndmagazine) on your radar out west.
The Law – ATTN late night CA: “State Assembly members voted yesterday to approve a bill allowing nine California cities to extend last call at bars from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m… SB 905 is a five-year pilot program for… San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella, Cathedral City, and Palm Springs… Cities wouldn’t automatically extend late-night drinking hours, but instead would have the option to do so. And it wouldn’t happen overnight: If approved, the pilot program wouldn’t take effect until 2021.” Details in Eater LA.
The Connector – On Tuesday, food writer Korsha Wilson tweeted, “Hi friends! A few aspiring food writers/food stylists/chefs have reached out to me abt mentorship. Can you respond to this if you'd be willing to be connected with a young person looking to enter the food world? They're mostly looking for advice & shadowing. Thank you!” The replies are a little light on chefs (so if you’re available and interested, please jump in there), but include a who’s who of food media types, from the food section editors at the Washington Post (Joe Yonan) and SF Chronicle (Paolo Lucchesi), to top writers at pretty much every major outlet across the country. If you’ve ever wanted to reach out for some help – or offer a hand to your greener self – the iron is hot, and Wilson is taking connection requests at email@example.com.
For the Somm – “The big news this week is that Stony Hill Vineyard, one of Napa Valley’s most beloved historic wineries, has sold. But unlike other recent winery acquisitions, in which the buyers have been private equity firms or major corporations, Stony Hill’s new owner is another family-owned Napa winery: Long Meadow Ranch.” Here’s Esther Mobley on why that matters, in the Chronicle.
Last and least – Per the NY Post’s Jennifer Gould Keil, “This could get awkward. A feminist-themed beer hall is opening next month on West 42nd Street [in Manhattan] — and it will be located just two doors down from the new Playboy Club. Treadwell Park, a popular craft-beer joint, is opening a 6,500-square-foot location at 510 W. 42nd St. with a 200-square-foot tasting room that will celebrate women’s contributions to the history of beer... Meanwhile… a new, luxurious flagship of the Playboy Club — a 14,000-square-foot mammary mecca… is slated to open in mid-September at 508 W. 42nd St., just a few steps away.”
Honestly, versions of this “awkwardness” happen everywhere, all the time, but I included this particular instance because I need the SEO value from “Mammary Mecca”. #growthhack
And that’s it for today. I am off to launch my new #WOKErestaurant certification program. Still working on a list of qualifications, but definitely including Offer Paper Straws and Something Something Civil Rights. Membership is a low $15k / month, and will obviously pay for itself once customers start seeing the “This Restaurant is WOKE” sticker in your window. 501(c)(3) status pending. Checks better than credit cards. You are welcome.
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
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