Michelin DC, DoorDash core, Brutalist milk, and that's it.
Family Meal - Friday, May 6th, 2022
Welp. I said I would be back on top of my game by now, but this has been an incredibly slow food media week from a Family Meal perspective, so here is maybe the shortest newsletter I have ever sent. Just three items long! If I missed anything, please let me know. And if you missed Tuesday’s paid edition, it’s copy / pasted below as usual.
If you want to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays too…
One truly fantastic article did come out this week and is worth mentioning right off the bat: mine. Back in the pre-omicron days of November, 2021, I went on my first ever (probably last) cruise, and wrote about it for Eater. It went nowhere. Please read it and share it so editors will let me do more things I don’t enjoy in the future.
Let’s get to it…
Michelin Season – After a long, slow trickle of revelations, DC’s stars are officially out. Albi (from chef Michael Rafidi and team), Imperfecto (Enrique Limardo), Oyster Oyster (Rob Rubba), and Reverie (Johnny Spero) are the big new entries, all at the one star level. Any removals seem to have to do with pandemic pivots and closures. Washingtonian’s Anna Spiegel has a good rundown on all the moves here.
That Delivery $$$ – After I said on Tuesday (see below) that DoorDash appeared to be diversifying its business with new food hall / ghost kitchen concepts, Expedite’s Kristen Hawley wrote back to tell me I was wrong. In her own newsletter this week, Hawley says the DoorDash Kitchens locations “feel more like a marketing opportunity and less like a growth strategy. They likely don’t suggest some huge repositioning for DoorDash; opening four brick-and-mortar locations over a few years hardly moves the needle on a strategy shift.” And adds, “If this was going to scale, it would have happened already.”
Makes sense(!), especially after reading her list out all the ways DoorDash is not actually handling very much of the operations at the “kitchens” with its name on their doors: “On Monday, DoorDash announced a new location of DoorDash Kitchens in downtown Brooklyn. It features both local favorites — Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Domodomo — and nationally recognized brands — Milk Bar and… Little Caesars among them. The restaurants provide the staff that makes the food. DoorDash handles restaurant partnerships, ordering, and delivery; its partner, local ghost kitchen company Nimbus — once described in Grubstreet as ‘a ghost kitchen with… a human touch’ — manages the facility.”
Restaurant partnerships, ordering, and delivery sounds an awful lot like… what DoorDash already does.
And last but not least: The Manifesto – Trying the new NYT “gift an article” feature to share this one with you so you can read it whether you subscribe to them or not: “When a Restaurant Is a Work of Art”. It’s about a restaurant in Stockholm run by the artist Carsten Höller, best known for immersive art like slides for adults and psychedelic-reindeer-piss Russian roulette. Laura Rysman’s “restaurant as art” piece reads mostly like a profile of any chef putting his ideas into food, but what makes it fun is that the artist’s idea here isn’t “seasonal ingredients” or “telling the story of my childhood in Brooklyn” or whatever, it’s… Brutalism — like, minimalist concrete buildings Brutalism. And “Brutalisten (‘the Brutalist’ in Swedish)” even comes with a new cuisine manifesto, part of which I quote here, because I love everything about it:
- Brutalist kitchen is a dogma kitchen where certain rules apply.
- Brutalist kitchen is titled in reference to Brutalist architecture, renowned for its linear and blockish appearance.
- The main rule is the following: ingredients are used alone for a certain dish; only water and salt may be added.
– In Orthodox Brutalist Cuisine, neither water (nor salt) is added. Generally speaking, the Brutalist Kitchen is less about recipes and more about finding and preparing ingredients.
– We are born as Brutalist eaters, as mother’s milk is essentially Brutalist.”
Mother’s milk is essentially Brutalist.
And that’s it for today! Except of course for Tuesday’s Family Meal which is copy / pasted below as usual.
I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday and everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a dogma kitchen where certain rules apply 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!
Here begins the Family Meal that went out to paying subscribers on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022. If you’d like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays too…
Rash awards, Cookbook look, Delivery diversifies, and more...
And hello from home. Three PCR tests, six RATs, and seven days of twice-daily temperature checks after arriving in Hong Kong, we are finally back in our apartment.
That is the second time in the last year that I have done 7 days in quarantine on return to Hong Kong, and I still can’t believe anyone did it back when it was 21 days, or even 14. In those times, we didn’t even consider leaving the city, but… I did consider going on a cruise. And so I did, and I wrote about it, and it came out yesterday on Eater: “All Alone on a Cruise to Nowhere.”
Read it! Share it! Send me your blistering critiques! And one day, when the tounging is done, we’ll take our leave and go.
Let’s get to it…
Awards (Vetting) Season – Flashing warning lights for the James Beard Awards in Chicago via the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Jean Banchet Awards. Per Naomi Waxman and Ashok Selvam in Eater: “After a group of Chicago diners reached out to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation alleging they were racially profiled while dining at S.K.Y., the chic and Asian-inspired upscale restaurant in [the Pilsen neighborhood], the foundation has revoked the restaurant’s sommelier’s nomination for a prestigious Jean Banchet Award.” There is a lot of back and forth in the accusations, and I tried and failed to understand the totality of what actually happened via Instagram posts from people involved.
But what I do know is that the incident took place on April 24th, the Banchets were scheduled for May 1st, and this Eater article came out on April 29th. Quite a pressure cooker for the awards, but hard to believe they conducted any kind of honest investigation if what the owner of S.K.Y. says is true: “He says he believes the decision to rescind the nomination was a rash conclusion given that the Banchets did not contact him, the somm, or any of the other parties involved, who have different accounts of the incident.”
Makes me wonder what the Beards might do with last minute allegations? Like if an anonymous accuser leveled serious allegations against everyone nominated in the “columns and newsletters” category the day before the awards, they’d have to go to runners-up, right? Right?
Cookbook Season – On Saturday, Paula Forbes released part one of her two-part summer cookbook preview at Stained Page News. It’s only half of what’s coming, but it’s still a lot. If you’re in or entering or entertaining the idea of the cookbook market for any reason, there’s the landscape. Of note if you remember that wild shipping debacle a few months ago: “Hey look, one of the cookbooks at the bottom of the ocean has returned for a delayed-but-delightful June release date! Turkey and the Wolf … by Mason Hereford with JJ Goode will be out, for real for real (knock on wood), on June 21. Ten Speed.”
That (declining) Delivery $$$ – In Restaurant Hospitality this week, Joanna Fantozzi has two stories that made me realize (belatedly) that restaurants and big delivery apps have come up with the same solution to the shared problem: Diversifying revenue streams because long-term commitment to delivery as-is won’t make them enough money.
First, on Friday: “Grubhub announced this week… that the third-party delivery service would soon launch its first-ever virtual restaurant concept.” That’ll be in partnership with TV show MasterChef and its alumni chefs. Details here.
And second, yesterday: “DoorDash announced Monday the launch of a delivery-focused food hall-like concept in Brooklyn. DoorDash Kitchens Brooklyn will be the first DoorDash Kitchens location to offer permanent, indoor seating within the ghost kitchen network that launched two years ago.” Details here.
For the Somm: Some Sad News – “Jack Cakebread, a vintner and pioneer of California’s modern wine industry, died on April 26 of natural causes. He was 92. An auto shop repairman and photographer, Cakebread co-founded Cakebread Cellars 50 years ago with Dolores, his high school sweetheart who became his wife. It was a pivotal time in Napa Valley’s wine history, and Cakebread played an integral role in the renaissance that transformed the region into the epicenter of American wine.” Full obituary in the SF Chronicle from Jess Lander.
And last but not least: Festival Season – I do not mean to diminish either the importance of agriculture or the (partly tragic) history of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, but if this headline is true — “Asparagus Festival Organizers Announce Plans to Save Gilroy Garlic Festival, Gilroy Organizers Call Claims ‘Malicious’” — I would like to be a part of the writing team that handles the screenplay. Asparagus Barbarians at the Gate. Thank you.
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see everyone back here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or one of the cookbooks at the bottom of the ocean to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!