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Family Meal - Friday, September 20, 2019
Came back from an eerily empty Beirut to a Hong Kong where causes, effects, and the protests themselves are hitting the industry hard. Conventions and galas (and catering contracts) have been cancelled. The CDC at a fancy hotel restaurant told me his hotel was at 10% occupancy this month. A restaurateur with several big locations said he’s getting requests for interviews about how bad the situation is, but worries broadcasting the reality will only make things worse. Everyone I talk to expects a wave of closings. The CDC says he’s good friends with a famous chef stateside and is considering a move to — brace yourselves — LA.
Let’s get to it…
Michelin Season – In Chicago, “The results are officially in for the Michelin Guide 2020 Bib Gourmand-designated restaurants, with this year's selection including 54 eateries, 14 of which are new.” That official press release and list are here. Analysis and notable removals (e.g. Au Cheval) via Eater Chicago’s Ashok Selvam is here.
Next release dates reminder: Chicago Stars: 9/26; DC Bibs: 9/24; DC Stars: 10/1; NYC Bibs: 10/14; and NYC Stars: 10/21.
Awards Season – Burn The Place, the book described by its publisher as “a galvanizing memoir that chronicles Iliana Regan’s journey from foraging on the family farm to running her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth,” made the 2019 National Book Award non-fiction longlist this week. That’s kind of a big deal, especially for a “food book”. Responding to Helen Rosner on twitter, National Book Foundation executive director Lisa Lucas says the last time a food book made the list was nearly 40 years ago, when Julia Child was included for a “now-defunct category called ‘Current Interest – Hardcover’” in 1980.
The Chain – “It’s the sort of news that needs no dressing up: St. John, the [London] restaurant that, 25 years ago, helped restore the glories of pork belly, sweetbreads and bone marrow to fancy restaurant cooking, is opening its first outside-of-England restaurant. St. John Los Angeles will open in the Platform shopping center in Culver City in mid-October, if St. John co-owner Trevor Gulliver’s timeline holds… [Fergus Henderson] and Gulliver will be there regularly, but Jonathan Woolway, who joined the brigade [in London] in 2008 and became head chef in 2014, is relocating to Los Angeles to run the kitchen. They plan to send some of their California cooks to work in London, and learn at the restaurants there, plus Gulliver says there is a ‘a groundswell’ of interest in joining the restaurant from St. John alums, those who have worked there and now populate restaurants around L.A. and the States.”
LAT Food editor Peter Meehan got the details (including this bullet dodge re previous plans to move stateside: “Gulliver said… that there were deals in discussion with restaurateur Ken Friedman and hotelier Ian Schrager, but that it all ended up being ‘too complicated.’”) over drinks with Gulliver at Dear John’s last week.
Le Goût Des Pieds – In Paris, but relevant everywhere: On an all-male panel organized by 50 Best this week, Yannick Alléno gave a question about female representation in kitchens his schoolboy’s best answer. Here’s how it went down in my Google Translate edition of this Pierre Carrey piece: “The leader of Pavillon Ledoyen (Paris) is trying to anthropology: ‘We, men, are lucky. The DNA of women is to give birth.’ Hoots in the audience. ‘My speech is not phallocratic!’ Protests the famous toque. ‘Yes!’ Answers some of the audience. Alléno apologizes.”
I think it all starts around 18:45 in the video here, when an Italian man asks where the women are. (Google Translate tells me the women are everywhere: “‘We must realize that women are still absent but they are there,’ rowed the president of the 50 Best, the French Hélène Pietrini. Brouhaha in the room.”)
Responding to the phallocratriarchy on Instagram, Le Servan chef Tatiana Levha (pretty sure, but the post is unattributed) said: “A shout to all the young women hoping to work in the industry: don’t be fooled by Yannick Alleno's words. It's OK to be a woman, it's possible to have children AND run restaurants, and there are men who believe in equality!”
The Law – “With a signature today from California Governor Gavin Newsom, landmark employment bill AB5 is now a game-changing law that could force businesses like Uber and DoorDash to reclassify their contractors as employees… But some businesses are gearing up for a fight. Uber has already said it won’t need to make changes to the status of its workers, claiming its drivers and delivery people aren’t central to its business…. The newly signed law takes effect on January 1, but DoorDash couriers and the like won’t become employees overnight. Workers or labor enforcement agencies will first have to challenge a worker’s classification.” Details via Caleb Pershan in Eater SF.
The Media – The Association of Food Journalists announced its 2019 Awards yesterday. Full list here, and congrats all! (And a special shout out to “This Man” who is featured in two first place headlines: “This Man Wants You to Eat More Meat,” and “This Man Knows Good Chicken.” What a guy.)
The Media Too – In a leaving-food-media essay on the Takeout, the site he founded in 2017 for the Onion platform, Kevin Pang says he’s moving on to open “his own consultancy, where he and a select group of clients collaborate on projects that impress, wow, and arouse curiosity.” [Arousal joke here]. Best of luck!
And last and least – Here’s David Kinch on Twitter yesterday: “Really great reading reviews and learning more about the critic than the subject of the review. Not.” Two things here. First, can anyone tell me which recent review he’s talking about? Is it Tejal Rao waking up from a nap(a) or did I miss something else? And second: Wow, “not” really is the ultimate surprise burn. Psych!
And that’s it for today.
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
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