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Family Meal - Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
Back in Hong Kong and the local circumstances have me way behind on all your emails and news (sorry!), so what follows is a bit of a lists-and-awards recap from last week – there are so. many. lists. and. awards. – plus some thoughts from conversations in SF. Thanks so much to everyone who made time there, and many, many apologies if we couldn’t make a meetup work. Next time!
Let’s get to it…
The Talk of the Town – Topic number one among the industry and media folks I met with in San Francisco was Sarah Henry’s big Eater article on the rise and fall of Daniel Patterson’s various partnerships around the city. If you haven’t read it yet, settle in for a long, thorough piece that uses a million and one interviews and data points in an attempt to answer its own question: “Was Patterson offloading underperforming locations to unsuspecting novices under a banner of social justice and racial equality, or were these business arrangements earnest miscalculations as he tried to offer opportunities to rising chefs as expediently as possible?”
Consensus among people I talked to (a sample size/makeup you would be right to be skeptical of) seemed to settle on two conclusions: First, Patterson’s initial intentions were probably not actually sinister (he, after all, would have been best served if these businesses succeeded). And Second, there is more to this story…
Topic number two was the overall narrative of the dire straights of the industry in general in a rapidly gentrifying Bay Area. There I got the sense that the talent shortage and high rents were very real issues (obviously), but articles wondering if any restaurant could ever survive in San Francisco again are missing… all the restaurants (of all kinds).
Thoughts? firstname.lastname@example.org or just hit reply.
The Media – ICYMI, SF Chronicle Food and Wine editor Paolo Lucchesi left his job at the paper on November 9th, moving on to a role as “editorial director” at Resy. Quoth the eloquent wordsmith on Twitter, “I’m very stoked… we’re going to do some very cool stuff.” As one of many big fans of Lucchesi’s work at the Chronicle, I’d like to say: Congrats to Resy, I GUESS.
Awards Season – Eater’s various city pages have announced their finalists for the 2019 Eater Awards. Restaurant of the Year, Design of the Year, and Chef of the Year short lists are up in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Portland (OR), San Francisco, DC, and probably every other city but you get the picture. Good luck, all!
Medal Season – “Patrick O’Connell, the owner and top toque at the Inn at Little Washington, is among those [President Trump] selected to receive the prestigious National Humanities Medal.” O’Connell will receive his medal at the White House on Thursday, alongside a right-wing midnight cowboy, Alison Krauss, and others. The Washington Post’s Emily Heil reports that while “Trump is considered radioactive for many artists and celebrities… O’Connell, reached via email while traveling, says that he ‘look[s] forward to attending’ the ceremony and that he is ‘immensely honored’ by the recognition.”
Michelin (Asia) Season – The 2020 Guide is out in Seoul, with Gaon and La Yeon remaining the only two three-stars, Mosu and L’Impression joining the 2-star list for the first time, and seven new single stars. That’s all per the press release. More interesting is this Korea Bizwire piece citing a possible scandal because, “Yun Kyung-sook, head of Korean restaurant YunGa-MyungGa, revealed in a recent interview that Ernest Singer, a U.S. national known as the ‘Michelin broker,’ asked for a consultation fee…. Michelin strongly denied the accusations, saying that ‘it’s a scheme committed by those who have nothing to do with Michelin.’” (Lloyd Christmas voice: So you’re telling me there’s a scheme…)
Michelin also released their new, supposedly expanded guide in Thailand last week, but Eater’s Monica Burton reports, “Although, the guide purportedly includes Bangkok, Phuket, Phang-Ng, and Chiang Mai, Phuket farm-to-table restaurant Pru is the only location outside of Bangkok with a star.” The full list plus Burton’s take is here.
Meanwhile in Taiwan, the guide announced it’s expanding beyond Taipei to include Taichung this year.
The Lists – Esquire’s big Best New Restaurants in America 2019 list went live last week via a Mr. Jeff Gordinier. And the EBNRiAs are… Seven Reasons (DC); Nari (SF); Bon Temps (LA); Pizzeria Beddia (Philadelphia); Benne on Eagle (Asheville); Alewife (Richmond); Rezdôra (NYC); Automatic Seafood and Oysters (Birmingham); Kith/Kin (DC); Comedor (Austin); Jeunne et Jolie (Carlsbad, CA); Kāwi (NYC); Virtue (Chicago); Sushi Note (LA); Odo (NYC); Bullard (Portland, OR); Wayan (NYC); Alta Adams (LA); Le Comptoir du Vin (Baltimore); Red Hook Tavern (NYC); Joy (LA); and Green Almond Pantry (DC). All in inexplicably ranked order except for Sushi Note and Odo, which are inexplicably tied. Congrats, all!
The Team d’Or – After the final round of competition at CIA Copia in Napa, “On Tuesday, Ment'or, the non-profit that helps to support and oversee training of the U.S. national team, announced who would be representing Team USA at the Bocuse d'Or in 2021. Chef Jeffery Hayashi of Senia Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii will be Head Chef, while William Barrera, who worked for Roy's in Honolulu, will be his Commis. Hayashi previously competed for Team USA in 2019… Head Chef Scott Muns and Commis Yuta Umeki came in second place, while Head Chef Nyesha Arrington and Commis Michael Sansom finished third.” Details via Bridget Hallinan in Food & Wine.
Some Sad News – Per Neat Pour: “Legendary bartender, author, and mentor Gary “Gaz” Regan died on Friday (11.15) evening according to a statement from his family. Regan is credited with helping create the Cocktail Renaissance and helping to shape the bar industry in the following years.” He was 68.
And last but not least – On a lighter note (and meaning no disrespect despite this terrible transition): Quick reminder that Gaz’s finger (probably) makes a great gift, and has been on my Christmas list for years to no avail. Hint hint.
And that’s it for today. Heading to Bangkok early tomorrow morning if anyone’s got any must-do’s there tomorrow night?
Otherwise, I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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