Kwame: The Movie, USHG: The Dress Code, Tempura: The Fire, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Hello Tuesday,

A very special shout out to everyone reading this at Tales Of The Cocktail 2019 in NOLA! The other day a bartender here told me that after all the turmoil of the past few years, Tales is officially back. True? Let me know how it’s going at

Full schedule here. 13th annual Spirited Awards set for Saturday at 7PM local time. Nominees here.

Let’s get to it…

The Big Deal – No director or script yet, but “Lakeith Stanfield is set to star in a feature film adaptation of American-Nigerian chef Kwame Onwuachi’s memoir, ‘Notes From a Young Black Chef,’ with A24 on board to finance the film.” Details via Justin Kroll in Variety. If Stanfield’s name doesn’t ring a bell, GET OUT (because he’s the one who screamed that in that movie).

The Suits (and Related Attire) – “A former Gramercy Tavern employee is suing the restaurant and parent company Union Square Hospitality Group over alleged gender discrimination — claiming that when they refused to wear male-specific garments such as a tie, managers threatened to end their employment.” Carla Vianna has the story in Eater, plus this helpful reminder: “In 2015, NYC unveiled new rules on gender discrimination... The current legal enforcement guidance on the Human Rights Law states that ‘employers ... may not require dress codes or uniforms, or apply grooming or appearance standards, that impose different requirements for people based on gender. The fact that the dress code differentiates based on gender is sufficient for it to be considered discriminatory, even if perceived by some as harmless.’”

The Departures – In SF, “Commonwealth, which been operating in the Mission for almost ten years under chef Jason Fox [alongside restaurateurs Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz], will close after service on August 26.” Eater’s Ellen Fort reports, “Fox cited a doubled rent as well as ‘terms of the lease [that] weren’t favorable to running a good business.’ It’s currently listed on Loopnet for $9,000/month… with availability starting September 1.” So… iron’s hot!

And also via Ellen Fort reporting, but a bit further north, “St. Helena restaurant the Charter Oak is undergoing a chef shuffle as opening chef Katianna Hong moves on. Taking her place is chef David Guilloty, a former sous chef at sibling restaurant the Restaurant at Meadowood. Hong, who rose through the ranks to become the Restaurant at Meadowood’s first female chef de cuisine in 2015, will not return after she departs for maternity leave; there’s no word yet on what her next project will be.”

Meanwhile in NYC, “Chef Floyd Cardoz will close the Bombay Bread Bar, the Soho restaurant that he first opened, as Paowalla, three years ago. It will close at the end of September, when its lease expires. The news comes only a couple weeks after Cardoz announced he promoted his chef de cuisine Jai Lakhwani, and had stepped aside for a new role with the Estiatorio Milos group.” Grub Street’s Chris Crowley has the details.

The PSA – From Neil Vigdor in the NYT: “Deep-fried tempura flakes, a key ingredient sprinkled on sushi rolls for crunch… have been linked to a series of restaurant fires in multiple states…. The crunchy flakes are made by ladling drops of batter into a deep fryer — canola and soybean oils are commonly used. [Fire investigator Kara Nelson] said that both vegetable oils have a propensity to self-heat and that keeping the mix densely piled in a pot or bowl does not allow the heat to dissipate. It is no different than the chemical reaction that causes more well-known substances to spontaneously combust, she said. ‘It can happen in hay bales,’ Ms. Nelson said. ‘It can happen in mulch piles.’ And now in tempura flakes.” And now caught on tape in the included video, where combustion starts 10 hours after the flakes were first made…

The Delivery Wars – It’s getting rougher and rougher for Grubhub et al. in NYC, and other cities and states are almost certainly studying the government playbook there. The NY Post reported last week that not only has “a New York City council member asked New York Attorney General Letitia James to open an antitrust investigation into Grubhub,” but also, “The New York State Liquor Authority… is developing new rules that will significantly curb the stiff fees that can be charged by food-ordering companies like Grubhub, Uber Eats, DoorDash and Postmates.” And over the weekend they reported that local pun-master Chuck Schumer has gotten in on the act, saying, “‘Today, I am putting in my own order at ​Grub​hub and asking them to eat any fees they wrongfully charged restaurants or even customers… Schumer requested that the federal Small Business Administration send a report to Congress on the situation…. He also urged the Federal Trade Commission to be ‘at the ready’ to act because he believes this is an unfair trade practice.” (Reporting on these stories by Nikki Schwab, Shari Logan, Lisa Fickenscher, and Kevin Dugan.)

P.S. I’m a little late to this video report, but last month in London, the BBC set up a bit of a sting for Uber Eats by opening a fake burger restaurant: “The team was able to process orders with no identity checks, bank details or food hygiene rating. ‘Shocking’ is how one food safety expert described the situation. Uber Eats says it was ‘deeply concerned by the breach of food safety policy’ and now demands that all new sign-ups have a valid food hygiene rating.” The fake restaurant’s name? Best Burger Corp.

For Design Fans – There’s a lot worth looking at in L.A.’s new Pier  House in Venice, but the thing that really sticks out for me in this Jakob N. Layman photo spread is the living wall. So much potential energy – so much unrealized turmoil and joy – bursts forth from that wall. All of it in the form of an old Buckingham Nicks album cover. (The moss wall is whatever.)

And that’s it for today. If you’re working on the Kwame movie project for A24, please inform the team that I am very litigious and failure to compensate me for any scenes based on Onwuachi’s time with me in Hong Kong will result in a furious search for legal representation in the classifieds of my local alt-weekly. You have been warned.

And I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

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