Michelin NY, Martha LV, Blackbird TBD, Service NA, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, October 7th, 2022
And hello, All! Tuesday was a holiday here in Hong Kong, so there was no paid edition and nothing copy / pasted below. But that doesn’t happen very often, and you should still chip in to get those and keep this going if you can:
And whether you chip in or not, you should please write in! Reply directly with thoughts. I can’t tell you who would vouch for me, but if I could, they would say: He is good at keeping secrets.
Let’s get to it…
Eater NY’s Ryan Sutton and Luke Fortney have a deep dive into yesterday’s 2022 Michelin Guide NY reveal here. The three star level remained the same (including Eleven Madison Park!) and Blue Hill at Stone Barns kept it’s two. Of (negative) note: “The inspectors dropped 11 restaurants from the one-star list, including Peter Luger, the steakhouse that was the subject of a withering Pete Wells review before the pandemic, and Marea, the tony Italian seafood and pasta spot on Central Park South. The Italian American Carbone and ZZ’s Clam Bar also fell off the list, leaving Major Food Group — which is on a rapid expansion tear — with zero Michelin stars in New York City.”
Al Coro and Saga made it up to two stars, and there were 17 one star additions. Congrats, all!
Also of note: The ceremony was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka? Michelin must be hoping the general public will start tuning in to these events, but I had no idea that was happening until I saw Eric Ripert post a picture of the ceremony on Twitter, so… not exactly cutting through PR-wise yet.
That Web3 Loyalty – Founder of Eater and Resy, Ben Leventhal, is up to… something. But I talked to him on Wednesday with Expedite’s Kristen Hawley and I’m still not sure what exactly it is. That conversation (Episode 4 of the podcast we’re figuring out!) is here:
Need to work on my Kara Swisher pushback skills, but here’s what we found out: As reported by Hawley in her newsletter, “In the first half of 2023, he’ll launch Blackbird, a payments, loyalty, and membership platform designed for restaurants.” And it’s going to involve web3 tech (call it blockchain?) in some way. Leventhal raised $11M in seed round(!) funding from a bunch of VCs, (including Gary Vaynerchuck, one of core team members behind FlyFish Club, the NYC NFT-membership — web3! — restaurant that is apparently still struggling to sign a lease on a space). So even after selling Eater to Vox and Resy to Amex, maybe all his life he was only waiting for this moment to arise?
In his own words on our podcast, here’s Leventhal on:
“This is a technology company that’s being founded in 2022…. I’d like to build something that’s cutting edge. I think if you’re building a technology company in 2022 and you’re not thinking about web3, you’re probably not seeing the technology landscape in full.”
How he plans on selling web3 to a skeptical restaurant world:
“When we started Eater, everyone was skeptical. Everyone thought it was the end of everything. When we started Resy, everyone was skeptical…I welcome the skepticisim. I love skepticism. It engergizes me. Let them be skepticial. The way we’re going to change minds is to deliver a magical product.”
And, I couldn’t resist, what he thinks of Eater these days:
“I don’t want to get too deep into what I think of Eater. What difference does it make? I’m proud of the fact that Eater still exists and is thriving and that there are lots of people reading it. I think the editorial team at Eater, it’s their prerogative to form it and shape it the way they see fit. That’s what I think of Eater.”
The Service – Meanwhile, speaking of loyalty… That whole “customers should spend more and be patient with service during these trying times” thing is wearing thin with… industry people? In Grubstreet, Chris Crowley says, “Food prices are up, the quality of service is down, and restaurant pros are doing the unthinkable: staying in on their nights off.” Example: “Ramón Manrique Hung, the beverage director at the East Village beer bar Proletariat, estimates he’s going out to restaurants ‘60% less’ than he used to, and the reason is simple: ‘They don’t give me the same pleasure.’ … two drinks each, maybe some oysters, all eaten in about an hour — that can easily cost $120 or more. ‘Service is not the same anymore, either… Nobody cares, and the last couple times I went out, I was like, That was too much money and the service sucked?’”
True for you too?
Some Sad News – “Colin Alevras, an inventive chef and sommelier whose tiny, cultish East Village restaurant, the Tasting Room, helped popularize a quirky, personal farmers’ market cuisine during its nine-year existence, died on Oct. 1 at his home in Lower Manhattan. He was 51.” His wife says the cause was cancer. Eric Asimov has a full obituary in the NYT. Industry friends will also recognize Alevras from his time as beverage director at DBGB Kitchen & Bar and Má Pêche, and service director at The Dutch.
And in Shreveport, LA, “The owner of the James Beard Award-nominated restaurant Lucky Palace, Kuan Lim has died.” Meredith G. White had the news in the Shreveport Times this week, and Brett Anderson had a big profile of Lim in the NYT in 2020.
And in Portland, OR, “Sarah Pliner, the chef known for her venerated, now-closed restaurant Aviary, died in a traffic collision [on] October 4… Pliner was struck and killed by a truck while riding her bike.” Brooke Jackson-Glidden has that sad news in Eater, where she notes pre-Aviary, “Pliner started her Portland career in the ‘90s, cooking at places like the Heathman and Giorgio’s, before leaving the city. She re-entered the Portland restaurant scene as a New York expat, spending time at restaurants like Michelin-starred Nordic destination Aquavit.”
The Trotter Trailer – Per Ashok Selvam in Eater, “The pandemic may have delayed plans for the theatrical release of a documentary about legendary Chicago chef Charlie Trotter, but soon the general public will finally get to see the film. Critics have already screened Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter with the Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper gushing, giving the movie 3 1⁄2 stars.” Trailer included the piece, here.
And Last But Not Least: The Critics – Pete Wells took on Martha Stewart’s Vegas effort this week and… it’s pretty good. “To eat at the Bedford is to realize, again and again, that Martha the Powerful has put her name on a restaurant whose details would never meet the approval of Martha the Tasteful.” But, Wells notes, MTP sold “the rights to her intellectual property, for a reported $175 million in 2019,” so “if you happen to eat there and are left holding the lukewarm potato, at least you will not be the first Las Vegas visitor to learn that the house always wins.”
Oh, and in case you missed it: “Entries and recommendations for the 2023 James Beard Awards can now be made through November 30, 2022!” I think I’ve given up thinking Family Meal could fit in any of the categories, but you should apply! Self-nominating is GOOD. Per the announcement blog: “Chefs, bartenders, food lovers, food advocates, and more: anyone (yes, really, anyone!) can make a recommendation for the Restaurant and Chef Awards and Leadership Awards.”
Plenty of changes to note this year. Check the full press release for details. On the operations awards side (paraphrased from the blog):
A new category, Outstanding Bakery, has been added, while the Outstanding Pastry Chef and Outstanding Baker categories have been combined into Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker. Outstanding Wine Program has been expanded to Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program, and Outstanding Bar has been expanded to include wine bars, beer bars, cocktail bars, coffee bars or any other business whose primary offering is beverage.”
Good luck, all!
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday, and everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal.
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