Discover more from Family Meal
Portnoy problems, Schitt's brunch, OSHA rules, LAT gets real, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, November 5, 2021
Reminder: The Tuesday Family Meal that went out to paying subscribers is copy / pasted below as usual. If you’d like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays too….
A bit all over the place today, but it ends with hollandaise, so there’s that.
Let’s get to it…
The Ghost Risks – Business Insider’s Julia Black is out with a behind-the-paywall exposé on sports media bro Dave Portnoy this week, which I mention here because Portnoy’s Barstool Sports has made a big play in ghost kitchens lately, and Expedite’s Kristen Hawley has a smart Twitter thread asking: “What happens when a celebrity-supported virtual restaurant concept is connected to a bad actor?” Seems Barstool has partnered with Virtual Dining Concepts, which asks restaurants that want to sell its stuff to buy packaging and marketing materials upfront. Now, as Portnoy’s stock literally drops (though not among the faithful many, I’m sure), there are presumably a lot of kitchens out there on the hook for product they might not be able (or want) to sell. Rolls of Guy Fieri stickers or whatever are probably low cost risk, but kitchen adjustments, staff training, ordering systems, etc. add up. Some of you better hope Pauly D doesn’t milkshake duck next…
The Federal Rules – The Biden Administration has officially clarified its vaccination mandates for employees of big companies, and RH’s Joanna Fantozzi has a helpful breakdown of the new rules yesterday. Key fact: “All workers at 100+-employee companies covered by OSHA (84 million American employees) must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, or undergo weekly testing.” Article includes PTO requirements, testing standards, etc. Plus this nugget if some folks are slow to get on board: “Employers are likely protected from non-compliant employees. Keep detailed records: If an employer is cited for noncompliance, employee ‘misconduct’ can [maybe] be a legal defense.”
The End of an Era – In Oakland, Berkleyside’s Nosh writer Eve Batey reports, “Oliveto, the 35-year-old Rockridge restaurant that led the way for the Cal-Italian food movement of the 1990s and early 2000s, will close at the end of 2021, co-owner Bob Klein told Nosh Tuesday. ‘Maggie and I are going to retire,’ Klein said, referencing his wife, Oliveto co-founder and cookbook author Maggie Blyth Klein.”
Some history: “Oliveto’s kitchen “has been led by chefs including Duende’s Paul Canales, Michael Tusk of San Francisco’s three-Michelin-star Quince and Paul Bertolli. Bertolli (who also served as Chez Panisse’s executive chef from 1982-1992) guided Oliveto through its nationally lauded period from 1995-2005, during which — as then-SF Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer once put it — ‘he made Oliveto into what many considered the best Italian restaurant in the United States.’”
And FYI Bay Area restaurateurs: “Klein says that the next steps for Oliveto’s high-profile space are still unclear. There have been discussions of a possible sale, but nothing firm enough to announce. ‘We’re looking at options.’”
The Media – Friends, we did it. After facing an intense, three-sentence pressure campaign in Family Meal, the LA Times has finally decided to hire a real-deal permanent food editor to replace Peter Meehan, who was pushed out of the job almost a year-and-a-half ago. I am preparing my cover letter now. If you think you can compete with my total lack of relevant experience, the application page says they are looking for someone who is “able to use food as a lens for what’s happening in Southern California and around the country. They should be culturally competent and knowledgeable about a range of cuisines; have a deep familiarity with and understanding of cooking and the latest trends, ingredients and techniques; have a deep familiarity with restaurants in Los Angeles.”
If you have guesses as to who this might be, please send my way… Good luck, LA! Good luck, all!
Oh, and tell your student friends: The SF Chronicle is looking for a summer intern on their food & wine desk. 12 weeks; full time; in-person. “All college students, including community college students or students who will have recently completed their associate’s or bachelor’s degree, are encouraged to apply.” Details here.
The Awards-Media Complex – SF Chronicle critic Soleil Ho has been declared ineligible for James Beard Leadership Awards! But that’s because she’s chairing the leadership committee. Ho says she is happy to take your questions if you’re thinking of nominating someone. She also says if you nominate Family Meal, I can use the $10k prize for reasons of “pizzazz,” which is a good reason to nominate Family Meal if you ask me…
And Last but not Least: The Audition – Casting is now open for a new cooking competition show: “Co-creator and star of SCHITT’S CREEK, Dan Levy, has teamed up with Boardwalk Pictures (CHEF’S TABLE, CHEER) to bring you the next great American culinary success story. Dan – along with a team of experts – is setting out to find the most inspiring, undiscovered culinary voices from across America and offering them the opportunity to compete for their big break and a life changing grand prize.” Details and application here. Levy talking about it on Twitter here.
The show is called “The Big Brunch.” A life-changing dollop of hollandaise to anyone who can guess what it’s about.
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 life changing grand prize to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!
Here begins the Family Meal that went out to paid subscribers on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021:
Michelin FLA, Retreat TFG, Frasier FAB, and more...
And hello to paying subscribers only! If you got this as a forward and wish you were getting Tuesday Family Meals too…
Let’s get to it…
Michelin Season – Back in June, blogger Brenda Popritkin got a Miami tourism spokesperson to admit negotiations for Michelin Florida were in final stages, but then everyone quickly clammed up and went no-comment… until yesterday. Red book press release: “We're thrilled to announce our partnership with Visit Florida and the launch of the first-ever Michelin Guide to Florida, covering restaurants in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa… Michelin Guide inspectors will begin discovering and celebrating culinary gems across the state next year.”
No word yet on how much this cost Visit Florida, but the Miami Herald’s Carlos Frías says Visit Florida has not been afraid to splash around lots of cash in the past. “It paid the entertainer Pitbull $1 million to promote the state… in 2016. And it paid $11.6 million to sponsor a television cooking show by New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse.” Something in the range of the $600k California paid for its statewide guide (first reported right here, folks!) sounds like a steal. Frías said the Herald has filed a public records request to get the FL numbers.
NB on boundaries: Per the Tampa Bay Times’s Helen Freund, “The guide doesn’t apply to the whole Tampa Bay region — just the city of Tampa. That means restaurants in other culinary hotspots, like St. Petersburg and Dunedin, won’t be awarded stars at this time.”
But Michelin director Gwendal Poullennec says the guide will include “Orlando’s iconic attractions,” so get ready for Michelin stars at Disney? I see people saying Victoria & Albert’s has some potential?
Good luck, all (who care)!
The Chains – Speaking of Miami, Headline in Robb Report via Andy Wang: “Eyal Shani and Major Food Group Team Up on Miami’s Next Over-the-Top Dining Destination.” Seems Tel Aviv’s HaSalon is opening there soon, and you could all learn a lot about pandering to the locals from Shani… Quote of the week: “For me, Miami is not made out of cement and iron. It was created out of dreams of freedom from many sides. Miami is almost not the States; she lives on the breaking point between many places and situations that have a vibration that does not give them rest and makes them infinite.” Added Shani (presumably), “You know, I’m a man, so also I want to fuck her.”
The Suits – Headline in Reuters: “Insurer prevails in first jury trial over COVID-19 coverage.” Details from Brendan Pierson: “The Cincinnati Insurance Co Inc does not have to cover losses suffered by a Kansas City, Missouri, restaurant operator as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a jury has found. The verdict… came at the end of the first jury trial over whether an insurer must cover businesses' COVID-related losses…”
Maybe you’ve resigned yourself to all this, but it is still one of the most amazing things to me about the pandemic. Business Interruption insurance policies didn’t cover jack shit when businesses were interrupted. “According to the COVID Coverage Litigation Tracker at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, more than 2,000 cases had been filed by businesses against insurers over COVID-related losses as of late September. About 73% of insurers' motions to dismiss decided by state courts have been granted, and about 93% in federal court.”
And remember that lobbying group started by a bunch of big name chefs (Keller, Puck, Boulud, Bocuse, JGV, Crenn, Cora, Jordan(!)) to push these suits back in the early days of the pandemic? It’s been dark on social media since summer 2020.
The Retreat – “José Andrés’s Restaurant Group Is No Longer Enforcing Its Vaccination Policy. ThinkFoodGroup ‘requests’ proof of vaccination but is not checking documentation.” TFG’s DC restaurants are tourist heavy spots, in a city where tourists often come with political baggage — and presumably bring it to the host stand — but its not clear what prompted the change, because they basically stonewalled the Washingtonian’s Jessica Sidman when she asked for more info.
Funnily enough, Sidman’s reporting was based in part on local blogger Barred in DC’s tweets on the issue, and only a few days after Barred in DC called TFG “sneaky” for the way they quietly stopped enforcing their vax policies, Andrés tweeted from Spain: “People you want to know what’s going on in [DC’s] food scene or issues and beyond? Follow Barred in DC.” Sneaky like a fox.
The Profile Treatment – From Priya Krishna in the NYT, a hilarious look (there’s video!) at the current incarnation of La Grenouille: “This once-tranquil Midtown shrine of formal French dining has a new feel, as [majority owner] Philippe Masson prowls the floor (and tabletops) in a vigorous jazz act…. Around 9:15 on a recent Wednesday evening, the mood in the full but otherwise serene dining room of La Grenouille suddenly shifted. The lights brightened. A small band began to play loudly. Out of the kitchen emerged a man in sunglasses, sporting a Cheshire cat grin and hips that swayed like a palm tree in a storm. He burst into a rendition of ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’… perching on diners’ tables and even growling like a cat.” One guest called it, “The last dying gasp of the patriarchy.”
The Profile Treatment Too – Have been waiting for the right one to choose, but they’re all good, so don’t miss the New Yorker’s serialized preview of Mayukh Sen’s new book “Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America.” This week’s installment is on chef and food writer Julie Sahni: “In 1983, she got her first job as a restaurant chef, running the kitchen at Nirvana Penthouse, a trendy Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant, and its sister restaurant Nirvana Club One, which opened the following year. According to the Times, she was ‘the first Indian woman to be a chef at a New York restaurant.’” The book is due out in two weeks. (I’m in the Preorder Nirvana Club.)
For the Somm – Headline the Washington Post: “[Outdoor clothing brand] Patagonia wants us to rethink how we drink with its new list of natural wines, ciders and sakes.” And look who got the gig, according to Dave McIntyre: “The fermented beverage line was selected by Brian McClintic, who was featured in the popular wine movie ‘Somm’ and who resigned from the Court of Master Sommeliers last year to protest lack of diversity in the profession, and sommelier Vanya Filipovic.”
And last but not least: For the Bar – In Dave Infante’s excellent Fingers “boozeletter” this week: “Everything [he’s] learned about Kelsey Grammer’s vaguely Christian craft beer brand.” One thing that he has learned: Grammer is available for promotional time behind the stick. “‘I saw & met Kelsey Grammer on June 3rd at the Crab’s Claw Inn in Lavallette,’ [a source named] Ryan D. told me. ‘He was promoting his beer by working behind the bar giving samples and pouring real glasses for those who wanted to drink it.’”
Will Faith American Brewery (FAB!) become the next Casamigos? You heard it here first, friends: Yes.
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see you back here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a Cheshire cat grin and hips that swayed like a palm tree in a storm to email@example.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, become a paying subscriber! If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!