Michelin D.C., Zimmern NYT, Giant's bad (glad) PR, Chef's Table casting, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, September 14th, 2018
Before we get started, a note on the weather: A list of local news sources for the latest on Hurricane Florence is here, and The Post and Courier’s Hanna Raskin is keeping up with who’s staying open in Charleston this weekend, so take a minute to check in on your heroic and/or foolhardy friends when you can.
Also, ICYMI: Typhoon Mangkhut is hitting the Philippines hard as you read this, and is on it’s way toward Hong Kong this weekend. Folks with a connection to the northern Luzon / southern China area might need some extra compassion for the next few days.
Let’s get to it…
Michelin Season – Big news in D.C. yesterday, as a young upstart chef named Patrick O’Connell led his staff at the Inn at Little Washington to the area’s first and only three-star rating. For the second year in a row, the Washington Post’s Mary Beth Albright was with O’Connell when he got the call from Michelin director Michael Ellis. The video of the moment is all joy until Albright asks O’Connell to tell the Bibendum statue on his desk what he’s thinking. Without skipping a beat, the chef turns serious and delivers this dystopian appreciation of the guide: “In a culture where nothing is sacred and you believe nothing, it’s quite wonderful to still have something credible.” Oh.
Rest of the list via Maura Judkis at the same link: “José Andrés’s Minibar and Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple and Pearls kept their two-star ratings. There were two new additions to the one-star list: Chef Ryan Ratino’s Bresca and Robert Wiedmaier’s Siren, the latter with a kitchen led by executive chef and partner Brian McBride. They are the first Michelin stars for all three chefs. Bresca and Siren joined the previous list of one-star restaurants, all of which maintained their stars: Komi, Métier, Blue Duck Tavern, the Dabney, Fiola, Kinship, Masseria, Plume, Rose’s Luxury, Sushi Taro and Tail Up Goat.”
P.S. Shout out to the Washingtonian’s Jessica Sidman, who (publicly) predicted the Inn’s third star.
The Profile Treatment – The NYT’s Kim Severson has a write-up this week on Andrew Zimmern, who she says, “might be one of the last acceptable old white guys in food media.” Beyond his well-publicized back story, there’s a touch of the personal (“he and his wife, Rishia Zimmern, are getting divorced. The split is difficult but amicable, they say. The couple have a son, Noah, who is 13.”), some business tips (“You want to bust your ass and make the perfect hot sauce and market yourself against 300 other brands of incredible hot sauce? You’re a schmuck. You actually want to go out and make something different. Be the only.”), and a bit of concern (“Cheryl Yaffe Kiser, executive director of the Lewis Institute for Social Innovation at Babson College in Massachusetts… worries about how much time he spends on the road, and how much emotional capital he gives away. ‘It feeds him in a very important ways, but because I love Andrew I am concerned about him,’ she said.”) Worth a read, especially if you aren’t familiar with the entirety of his rough start, or have ever considered making the move from chef to media.
The Profile Treatment too – Pastry Edition: SF Chronicle writer Jonathan Kauffman has a sort of group profile of “the new band of Asian-influenced bakers redefining pastry in the Bay Area”. Think: Kate Campecino-Wong, James Wong, and Clement Hsu of coming-soon Breadbelly, Mikiko Yui and Junko Schwesig of Stonemill Matcha, and Joyce Tang of La Chinoiserie. “They’re leaving the high-end restaurants they came up in… to seek funding, throw pop-ups or deliver pastry boxes to people who message them through social media. The pastries that Breadbelly, La Chinoiserie, Stonemill Matcha, Oyatsuya and Baker Doe are baking demonstrate that both the chefs and their customers are as familiar with Chinese, Japanese and Filipino sweets as they are kouign amanns.”
Bad (Glad) PR – On Monday night in Chicago, chef Jason Vincent’s Giant “hosted an invite-only dinner dubbed Three Moons. Attendees included a few people in the media and some social media influencers over two seatings. At the end of the first one, the final course arrived covered in Glad Press'n Seal. The guests were told that everything they had eaten that night had been made three days previously, kept refrigerated and wrapped in the sealing product… In other words, the dinner was a commercial, or intended to be — all the centerpieces in the middle of the table concealed cameras filming reactions from the guests.” This obviously backfired (for Giant, not Glad, which is getting a bunch of extra press), and the Tribune’s Nick Kindelsperger and Joseph Hernandez have the whole sad-influencer saga here.
There’s a lot of talk in the piece about food media ethics (and definitions), but my key takeaway was the obvious hospitality / marketing / PR maxim: No one wants to be the sucker.
And Food & Wine is looking for a “whip smart” (I’m out) Digital Reporter/Writer. Details here.
The T.V. – The casts of Chef’s Table seasons 5 & 6 were announced Tuesday, with a welcome dose of diversity for a change. Per Greg Morabito “Season 5, which is slated to premiere on September 28, will focus on ‘chefs and cuisines whose stories have for too long been hidden.’ Season 6, meanwhile, has ‘the journey home’ as its theme, and it’s going to land on Netflix at some point next year.” Basic list below. Cast plus bios on Eater.
Season 5: Cristina Martinez (South Philly Barbacoa), Bo Songvisava (Bo.Lan, Bangkok), Musa Dağdeviren (Ciya, Istanbul), Albert Adrià (Enigma, Barcelona).
Season 6: Mashama Bailey (The Grey, Savannah), Sean Brock (“an Appalachian restaurant”, Nashville), Asma Khan, (Darjeeling Express, London), Dario Cecchini (Antica Macelleria Cecchini, Panzano).
The Sober Kitchen – Chef Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon) organized an alcohol-free dinner with Sean Brock, Gregory Gourdet, Evan Zimmerman, Michael Solomonov, and Andrew Zimmern this week, and all 72 $225 tickets sold out in 2 minutes. “None of the men involved in the dinner know what the effect will be, but ‘if one chef de partie in the US decides to get clean and sober after this, that’s enough of a reason to do it,’ says Solomonov.” Story, with links to some resources, via Julia Bainbridge in Bon Appétit.
For the somm: Some sad news – “Ulises Valdez, who emigrated from Mexico to work as a vineyard laborer in Sonoma County, then rose to become one of California's most renowned vineyard managers and founder of his own family winery, died early [Wednesday] morning of a heart attack. He was 49.” Full obituary from Aaron Romero in Wine Spectator.
For design fans - Wow. The Wolves in Downtown LA’s Alexandria Hotel went all in on “a glorious Belle Epoch-style interior”, and I have to give them credit for sparing no centimeter - they even gussied up the HVAC registers. Plus, the fish details in the floor at the bar are a nice touch. Eater LA photo spread here.
And last and least – Per the Today’s Erica Chayes Wida: “On Tuesday, [People Magazine] announced that, as part of a partnership with [the Food Network], 10 of the country's most beautiful and talented male chefs will be selected for an on-air contest to become America's ‘Sexiest Chef.’ The hour-long special, which is set to air on Thursday, Nov. 1, will be hosted by People's editor-in-chief Jess Cagle… a Food Network spokesperson wouldn't dish on who exactly these 10 chefs might be, but confirmed that this new special won't focus on superstar chefs who have already achieved celebrity status. Rather, the show will actually delve into the lives of ‘up and coming’ culinary craftsmen. The winner of the ‘Sexiest Chef’ special will be featured in this year's [People Magazine] ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ issue.”
Call me when you do newsletter writers, People. I’m ready.
And that’s it for today. Stay safe out there this weekend. We’re hunkering down with a freezer full of dumplings here in Hong Kong, so if you’re in town and need some super typhoon sustenance, let me know.
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
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