Rhodes gone, Isabella bird, Wages up, Tiki down, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, November 29th, 2019
Still a slow restaurant news week in the US on account of the holiday, but here’s hoping Thanksgiving was everything you wanted it to be, or at least not as bad as you expected! I am thankful for you.
Let’s get to it…
First, Some Sad News – “Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes, one of the most influential figures in British cooking over the past three decades, has died at the age of 59… His London restaurants included Mayfair’s The Greenhouse, City Rhodes, Rhodes in the Square and Rhodes Twenty Four… He became a TV household name in the Nineties… [and] earned five Michelin stars in his career but left the UK in 2007 for a new life in Dubai, where he owned a steakhouse restaurant called Rhodes Twenty10 in Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa. The chef also received an OBE in 2006 for services to the hospitality industry.” Full obituary in The Evening Standard (updated with cause of death details here). Lots of tributes rolling in, including critic Jay Rayner reposting a great 2002 Guardian profile for reference.
The Mins – Over the past few months, there has been a lot of back and forth in Chicago about minimum wages and tip credits, but Eater’s Ashok Selvam says a decision has finally been reached: “By 2021, the ‘sub-minimum’ hourly wage will increase by $2, from $6.40 to $8.40 per hour. The City Council on Tuesday also approved raising Chicago’s $13 per hour minimum wage to $14 per hour in July 2020 and to $15 in July 2021.” Selvam’s article also links to Conrad Swanson’s story in the Denver Post, explaining the minimum wage there will rise from $11.10 currently to $15.87 in 2022, with a tip credit of around $3.02 (if I’m reading that right?).
The Opportunity – A media company by the name of “Condé Nast” is looking for a Research Director who will be “primarily responsible for covering the fact-checking needs of Bon Appétit.” Is this how Brad and Claire got started? (No idea.) HR is asking for “a minimum four years’ fact-checking experience,” but that’s dumb, so stretch that CV if you’re interested! “Culinary school, restaurant experience are pluses…”
For the Bar – In the LA Times, John Birdsall asks us to consider “the problem with tiki: how to honor its real contributions to mixology while resisting the parts that dishonor indigenous people, misuse their iconography and exploit their sacred traditions. In a woke world, is there hope for tiki?” I read his answer as more or less: nope (“one solution to the problem of tiki is to reverse time and imagine a different evolution”), but there’s enough nuance in there to get you to maybe if that’s where you want to land. (Meet you there.)
The Lists – The Daily Meal’s Dan Myers has a “Most Anticipated 2020” list out this week, if you’re looking for a 40 restaurant rundown from “publicists and industry folks who have their finger on the pulse of what’s on the horizon.”
The Snowbird – What Mike Isabella did to himself continues to boggle my mind. That he feels the need to tell a reporter to “Fuck off,” or whatever “two-word brush off, unprintable in this newspaper” he texted Tim Carman at the Washington Post for asking about Isabella’s new consulting job in Sarasota, makes me sad. It’s all just… sad.
Michelin Season – The big news in Tokyo’s 2020 guide (released Wednesday): “Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten and Sushi Saito, which were listed in the 2019 guide as three-star restaurants, are not included in this year’s Michelin Guide since they no longer accept general reservations.” They were not, as such, “stripped of” their stars, as headlines are SEOing all over the internet. Meanwhile, Kadowaki earned a new three-star rating, and Usukifugu Yamadaya was demoted from three to two. There was also lots of movement in the two and one star ranges — too much to note here, because, as usual, “With 226 starred restaurants this year, Tokyo is once again the city with the most starred restaurants in the world.” (This Spanish language Republica article seems to do a decent job of listing many of the moves if that helps.)
Meanwhile on the mainland, “The first edition of the Michelin Guide Beijing was officially launched [yesterday]. It features 1 three-Michelin-star restaurant, 2 two-star restaurants, as well as 20 one-star restaurants.” 3-star: Xin Rong Ji. 2-star: King's Joy and Shanghai Cuisine. 1-stars: Listed in the press release here.
And re that alleged Seoul “scandal” I mentioned a few FMs back, wherein a “consultant” allegedly charged a restaurant for inclusion in the Michelin guide: A tweet from Andy Hayler led me down a (brief) rabbit hole to this Gastromondiale piece by Robert Brown, detailing the allegations (with a scan of the alleged contract and some bonus side-allegations of corruption at Wine Advocate), and this fun KBS news video (in English) including interviews with the restaurateur and some great infographics to connect the dots. They report, you decide.
And that’s it for today.
ATTN: Food media folks, I’m putting together a list of publications that offer gift subscriptions for my annual “gift guide” (which started last year and is literally just a list of publications that offer gift subscriptions). If you have a link, please send my way! If you can’t find a link, ugh. The private equity guy who owns your pub probably hates (honest) money.
I’ll see everyone else here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
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P.S. - Anyone have good tips on Siem Reap, please send my way. See you there next week?