Discover more from Family Meal
Largey out, Bittman alive, OpenTable closed, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
Today’s brief, international, and wordy Family Meal comes to you from beneath a full moon in the little Hong Kong fishing town of Tai O on Lantau. If you need anything from out here, let me know.
Let’s get to it…
The Departure – In LA, “Just six months after the highly anticipated Arts District restaurant Simone opened its doors, owner Joe Russo announced on Friday that culinary star Jessica Largey had left her post as executive chef—an immeasurable blow to a restaurant that had previously been heralded as one of the year’s most important openings.” LA Mag’s Garrett Snyder spoke with a handful of Simone staff on condition of anonymity to paint a picture of a Hollywood director’s vanity project gone (predictably?) awry, a talented chef turning inward as management structures crumbled, and an NDA that means we’ll likely never hear Largey’s side of the story. A worthwhile cautionary tale. Fwd on to your comic book movie director friends as necessary.
The Lists – Food & Wine’s Tracie McMillan has “19 Great Restaurants to Work For” this week: “So what does a great restaurant to work for look like? It may have an open kitchen, which operators say promotes better professional conduct, and open books, which helps workers learn the business. It may have set schedules and pooled tips, which take guesswork out of the job and promote stability. And there is almost assuredly a dedication to treating restaurant workers as something they have rarely been given credit for: professionals.”
Making the cut: AC Restaurants (Raleigh – 200 employees); Ardent (Milwaukee – 9); Barrio Café (Phoenix – 32); Bini’s Kitchen (SF –14); Biscuit Love (Nashville – 130); Cala (SF – 45); Dinette (Pittsburgh – 12); Egg (NYC – 26); Folk / The Farmer’s Hand (Detroit – 19); Giant (Chicago – 25); Hell’s Backbone Grill and Farm (Boulder, UT – 50); Junebaby / Salare / Lucinda Grain Bar (Seattle – 52); Mama J’s (Richmond, VA – 60); Mei Mei (Boston – 25); Mondo / Rosedale (New Orleans – 57); Patachou Inc. (Indianapolis – 350); Thai Fresh (Austin – 48); Vimala’s Curryblossom Café (Chapel Hill – 27); and Zingerman’s (Ann Arbor – 700).
P.S. – McMillan shows her work in a piece on the methodology behind the list here.
The Critics – In the UK, critic Jay Rayner spent this Sunday Guardian piece reminiscing about his 20 years on the job for the Observer. It tracks ostensibly English trends, but he hits universal notes in the decline of white table cloths and “Mayfair Wankpits”, the rise of Gordon Ramsay (and concurrent evolution of modern hotel restaurants), a turn toward small plates and specialized, local cuisines, the flight to the suburbs and beyond to control costs, and more. Worth your time / not a wankpit.
The Media – “Mark Bittman wants you to know he’s not dead… The 69-year-old journalist and author of 20 books, including ‘How to Cook Everything,’ is very much alive. And now he is going to work for Medium, the online platform and publisher, to head Salty, an online magazine focused on food.” The NYT’s Jaclyn Peiser reports, “Alongside Mr. Bittman at Salty are Melissa McCart, the dining critic for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Daniel Meyer, a former restaurant critic for Time Out New York; and Kate Bittman, Mr. Bittman’s daughter and a public relations consultant.” Good luck, all!
The Data – “On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported a change in the OpenTable client agreement contract. As of March 15, restaurants can no longer share access to OpenTable with any unapproved third-party system that has the intent of using that data for use on their own service. This change seemingly takes direct aim at at least one competitor, SevenRooms, a reservations and customer relationship management software company.” OpenTable claims this is a privacy issue. Tock founder Nick Kokonas wants this to be about him. Details via the WSJ link and a good summary from Kristen Hawley and Erika Adams on Skift Table.
The Target Deluxe: Paris Edition – The “yellow jacket” protests in France laid waste on Sunday to famed Le Fouquet’s restaurant, which was “seen as symbolic of French power and was a favourite with the late Socialist president François Mitterrand, a regular diner with his own table – number 83. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy was criticised for holding his election victory party at Le Fouquet’s in 2007, leading to him being seen as out of touch with ordinary people before even taking office.” Details from Kim Willshir in the Guardian.
For Design Fans – Here’s the Eater Montreal photo spread “Behind the elaborate, dreamy design of huge Laval restaurant Miss Wong… with aesthetics drawing on Chinatown kitsch and Blade Runner.” I love a place with very different rooms, but at 14k square feet this is a theme park. Still, worth a gawk! Slight head-tilt to the “China Town Hotel” sign in “chop suey font” in front of the “Chop Suey” sign, and can’t quite put my finger on it, but Ho Lee Fook that lucky cat wall looks familiar…
And last but certainly not least – I thought this piece in the Washington Post was especially fascinating and fun to read. That’s probably because I wrote it, but who’s to say what bias lies where? It’s about Omnipork, a new fake ground pork product marketed in the mold of Beyond and Impossible burgers, with an Asian audience in mind. Please read deeply, share aggressively, and comment cuttingly. I’d do the same for you.
And that’s it for today. Here’s hoping you survived the ides and the “Irish”!
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or not-dead-yet food media shoutouts 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!