Michelin Chicago, Erven, Montagne, and Fraser move on, Wagner's "Willamette", $12B hot pot, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, September 28th, 2018
What a week.
Let’s get to it…
Michelin Season – Chicago’s 2019 stars were announced Wednesday, and per Chicago Mag’s Anthony Todd, “Honestly, almost nothing changed.” Grace, Sixteen, GreenRiver, and Naha’s closures all meant lost stars for the city, and “there’s a total of one new recipient: Temporis, [Sam Plotnick and Donald Young’s] small tasting menu spot in West Town, received a single star.”
Unsurprisingly, a good chunk of town never had a chance. Todd “asked the inspector about the boundaries Michelin sets…. Firstly, the suburbs are now off limits (‘for this year,’ a Michelin representative says, when reached by email). Secondly, the entire city isn’t even under consideration. The spokesperson laid out the guide’s current boundaries: ‘North to Andersonville, Edgewater & Uptown, West to Humboldt Park & Logan Square/Pilsen & Bridgeport, South to Hyde Park.’” Sorry, elsewhere!
Full list: Three Stars: Alinea ; Two Stars: Acadia, Oriole, and Smyth ; One Star: Band of Bohemia, Blackbird, Boka, Dusek's Board & Beer, EL Ideas, Elizabeth, Elske, Entente, Everest, Goosefoot, North Pond, Parachute, Roister, Schwa, Sepia, Spiaggia, Temporis, and Topolobampo.
Michelin also released Bib Gourmands for Great Britain and Ireland today, ahead of the stars announcement on Monday. Next up stateside: NYC Bibs 10/30; Stars 11/6. SF Bibs 11/20; Stars 11/29.
Some sad news – “Star sushi chef Toshio Oguma has fallen ill and stepped away from Tanoshi Sushi, an UES gem considered one of NYC’s best omakase restaurants. Oguma was admitted to the hospital June 27 after falling out of a 15-year remission from gastric cancer and has been away from the restaurant since.” Details via Carla Vianna in Eater NY. Direct link to his GoFundMe page here.
And from Sam Roberts in the NYT: “Anne Russ Federman, who gained a New York brand of culinary celebrity as one of three sisters with whom Joel Russ shared the name of his venerable Lower East Side temple of herring, lox and other delicacies, Russ & Daughters, died [last week] at her home in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She was 97 and the last survivor of the four.”
The Profile Treatment – “Nite Yun has no memories of the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp in Thailand where she was born in 1982. The chef and owner of Nyum Bai in Oakland, Calif., a restaurant that has attracted national attention, was just 2 when her parents, Cambodians who had fled the Khmer Rouge in the previous decade, scooped up her and her older brother and headed to America, sponsored by a family affiliated with a church group…. Ms. Yun didn’t set foot in Cambodia until 2007, when she dropped out of nursing school and found herself adrift. Traveling there had always been at the back of her mind; she saw her family’s history as a puzzle she needed to solve. So when she found a credit card while sifting through unopened mail, she didn’t hesitate. She booked a ticket to Phnom Penh.” Great read from Mayukh Sen in the NYT.
P.S. ATTN AmEx advertising dept.: That credit card story is just the kind of thing that makes other people cry at ads on airplanes…
The Media – Eater NOLA editor Stephanie Carter is stepping down on October 12th, so they’re looking for someone to take over ASAP.
And if you’re looking to butter up your food section, head over to the Association of Food Journalist’s Twitter page to see who won their big awards last night.
Moving on – In LA, “Chef Nick Erven is no longer involved at Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the Row in Downtown… he is heading to Detroit to spearhead a new project to be called Antihero. ” While in Chicago, “Bill Montagne departed [Nico Osteria] on Saturday as he’s poised to open his own restaurant in California.” Montagne told Eater he wants to cook his seafood closer to the sea. Fair enough. And in NYC, “ John Fraser is no longer at Narcissa, the restaurant in the Standard East Hotel that he launched in January 2016, nor any of his other ventures at the hotel…. A spokesperson for the hotel confirms that Fraser left ‘in the last few weeks to pursue other projects,’ like his upcoming restaurants at a Times Square hotel.”
For Design Fans – The SF Chronicle food section put out a list of the “Most Beautiful Restaurants in San Francisco” this week, and it must’ve taken all their courage to end the list with an eight-way tie for first place. The “Magnificent Eight”: Zuni Café, The Progress, Mourad, Bix, Rintaro, Bar Agricole, Mister Jiu’s, and Foreign Cinema. A fun read, but prepare to be let down by the pictures. For a better look at Foreign Cinema, including a space-by-space breakdown, here’s editor Paolo Lucchesi’s standalone piece. “Fun fact: The I-beams within the main walls are painted the exact hue as the Golden Gate Bridge, a main feature in Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ — a detail that was not lost during design.”
For Design Fans Too – I’m in love. The Imperial West Beer Company space at LA’s Union Station has officially escaped the brewpub trap and gone all in on art deco gorgeous. Is going this cavernous risky? Absolutely. Do I love purple accent lighting? No. Does the patio space look like a half-assed afterthought? Yes. But hot damn, that main hall. Credit due to photographer Wonho Frank Lee for these fantastically lit pics.
For the somm – The SF Chronicle’s Esther Mobley asks: “Did winemaker Joe Wagner misrepresent where his Oregon Pinot Noirs came from? … As the winemaker behind mega-hit Pinots like Meiomi and Belle Glos, Wagner is one of California’s most prominent winemakers. Now, the Oregon Winegrowers Association, along with a state lawmaker, alleges that labels on both the Willametter Journal and another of Wagner’s Oregon brands, Elouan, may have violated state and federal regulations by falsely advertising the grapes’ place of origin.” Detailed debate on wine label poetic license here.
And last but not least – “Zhang Yong, a former tractor-factory worker, founded Haidilao originally with just four tables in his hometown, Jianyang, a city in Sichuan Province in China’s southwest. ‘I didn’t know how to make soup or cook any ingredients… In order to satisfy people, I gave away more than I sold… As a result, customers were still willing to come back, even though my food wasn’t that good.’” Now Haidilao gives away manicures and opera shows while you wait, babysitting services, photo printing, and more, and the company just hit a market cap of around $12B with its Hong Kong IPO this week. This Elsie Chen and Sui-Lee Wee write-up in the NYT is a great look inside. “‘If they want to be popular overseas, they’ll have to adjust their services and menu,’ said Darcy Zhang, a Shanghai-based food blogger who is a fan of Haidilao. ‘In other countries, some of their services might feel too exaggerated. For example, a customer will go and wash their hands and the staff will be waiting outside with tissue paper and a huge smile… Perhaps foreigners might find that quite creepy.’” Nah. We have open offices now. Everyone knows how much time you spend in the can.
And that’s it for today. FYI, your humble narrator is heading to DC for a good chunk of October. District readers, please send recommendations on what’s new or worth going back to this fall. Will be sans car and limited to the city proper for the most part, but do my best to make the rounds. If you could fix the federal government before I get there, I’d appreciate it.
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
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P.S. A note to my media readers: It’s less than two months till Cyber Monday. Laugh all you want. If you work for the LA Times, SF Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, and I’m sure others, do yourself a favor and try to buy a gift subscription online. When you find a link, let me know. I couldn’t.
Example: The SF Chronicle – which is doing some of the best food journalism around, launched a brand new wine section this year, and is presumably about to announce some big new hires – has an online gift store that does not sell Chronicle subscriptions. I had to email customer service and was told to call an 800 number. In 2018.
Sick of seeing media companies decry the high costs of journalism when they won’t even do the basic work of marketing – and making it easy to buy – their main product. Crazy that it seems like ownership has to be shamed into making money. This is not hard. You already have payment processing services. You presumably have someone in-house who can whip up a landing page. Maybe you even have the power to automate follow-up emails!
If your outlet has an online gift subscription option, great! How is the food section planning to promote it for the holidays? Take a little time to cut that video, work out a social campaign, promote your stuff!
Not subscription based? Are ads the only way you can / are planning to try to add some revenue over the holidays?
Much, much love,
Your faithful reader,