McMillan omits, Osteen gone, Sweeney out, Parker retires, and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
Let’s get to it…
The Post-Rehabilitation Exposé – A few months ago, David McMillan of Montreal’s Joe Beef fame, wrote a first-person, going-sober essay for Bon Appétit. It began like this: “I was never falling-down drunk. I was never belligerent. I always got my work done. I was never unkempt. I was always clean, I was always shaved, I always performed at work. I was always kind and gracious in the dining room. But I lived in hell.” Folks on Twitter retweeted his piece with words like “brave” and “unflinching”, and a string of sympathetic interviews followed.
But yesterday, the New Yorker published a very different version of the bad old days by Hannah Goldfield, and it seems clear that at minimum McMillan’s second sentence in Bon Appétit – “I was never belligerent” – is a lie. Goldfield writes, “McMillan told me, ‘Everybody that I worked for, all my mentors, were screamers. I’ve been hit multiple times in the kitchen…. Joe Beef is the nicest restaurant I’ve ever worked at. But have I screamed at people? Yes, I have. Have I punched people? Fucking yeah. I’ve never hit a woman.’” There’s more where that came from (homophobic slurs, slapping servers’ butts, “bullshit fratboy stuff”).
Reaction so far? Mostly silence (with the notable exception of Jen Agg). Weird. Congrats to McMillan on his journey to sobriety and compassion! But this feels like a double-glaze glossing over from some in food media. First by not fact-checking, and now by not acknowledging the facts.
Some sad news – From Hanna Raskin in the Post & Courier: “Louis Osteen, the legendary Charleston chef whose cooking and charm helped persuade the nation’s culinary elite to heed contemporary Southern cuisine, died on Sunday. He was 77. Osteen’s death was confirmed by John T. Edge.”
The Lobbyist – “The National Restaurant Association (NRA) will have a new CEO come 2020. Dawn Sweeney, who has been the CEO of the association for 12 years, announced during the 2019 NRA Show show this weekend that she will be stepping down from her role.” Story from Kerri Adams on Foodable.
The Capital – In the SF Chronicle, Justin Phillips takes on the strange case of the, uh, restructuring going on around Daniel Patterson’s restaurant group, and how “for minority chefs, restaurant partnerships bring opportunity, tension.” Key quote from Reem Assil, “the chef behind the Arabic restaurant Dyafa at Jack London Square, [who] told The Chronicle she is terminating her consulting agreement with Patterson’s group on Aug. 9… ‘I think many of the relationships end up exploiting (people of color) and women for the social capital they bring rather than helping them build more social capital,’ Assil said in an email. ‘We end up getting tokenized without getting enough in return and are not recognized for the full value we bring to the table.’”
The Critics: End of an Era – A note on Thursday from Wine Advocate EIC Lisa Perotti-Brown begins (with a GOT-esque titles list), “The father of modern wine criticism, our publication’s founder and namesake, my greatest mentor and a dear friend, it is with mixed feelings that I announce that Robert M. Parker Jr. will, as of today, be formally hanging up his wine criticism boots and retiring from Robert Parker Wine Advocate.”
Awards Season: End of an Era too – “For the last 14 years, The Vendy Awards have been a fixture on the New York food scene and the city’s go-to celebration of all things street eats… But when the sidewalk and market chefs gather for the 15th year in a row on September 19, it will be for one last time. The Vendy Awards are ending.” Chris Crowley has an awards obit of sorts in Grubstreet.
That Hotel $$$ – “Ever since Carrie and Michael Nahabedian closed their beloved Naha in March 2018, Chicago food fans have been awaiting word of the duo’s new concept. Now we know… The Nahabedians are opening a new restaurant in The Gwen … a luxury hotel just off Michigan Avenue.” Phil Vettel has the details in the Tribune.
The Jones – Per Serena Dai in Eater NY, “Iconic Noho restaurant Great Jones Cafe officially has a new owner. Gabriel Stulman — the esteemed West Village neighborhood restaurateur behind Joseph Leonard and Bar Sardine — confirmed on Monday that he’ll be moving forward with opening a restaurant in the famed space. It will now be called the Jones.”
For TV Fans – Two entertainment updates from Eater’s Greg Morabito this week. First: “Roy Choi and Jon Favreau, two very big deals in the increasingly overlapping worlds of food and entertainment, are teaming up for a new Netflix series called The Chef Show that will showcase their favorite dining destinations and culinary inspirations across the country.” (Trailer included in that link.) And second: Netflix “revealed that another season of Phil Rosenthal’s travel show Somebody Feed Phil and two more seasons of David Gelb’s celebrated culinary documentary series Chef’s Table are currently in the works.”
Thus continues this paradoxical age of Food TV that is at once golden and unoriginal. Yay humbug.
And that’s it for today. Please let me know what you think about what’s going on with Daniel Patterson’s group and/or why no one’s making a fuss about the McMillan story. Very interested in all the takes, on or off the record!
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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