RIP PPP, Waters LA, Bourdain trailer, Raskin around, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, June 4th, 2021
A slightly wordier one today as we get caught up, but it’s great to be back after a quick break.
Let’s get to it…
The Relief – Just after last Family Meal sent, WSJ’s Amara Omeokwe reported: “The federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program closed to new applications Friday as funding was on track to be exhausted.… The program had been scheduled to end on May 31, but the Small Business Administration said in a notice to lenders that ‘due to the high volume of originations today, the portal will be closing for new originations” that evening.” RIP PPP.
And I would keep hopes way, way down in the short term at least (it is infrastructure week, after all), but near the end of last week, a bipartisan group of over 100 congresspersons sent a letter to leaders Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, urging them to work on refilling the wildly oversubscribed Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
That Museum $$$ – A big scoop from Farley Elliott in Eater LA last night: “Legendary chef Alice Waters is opening a restaurant in Los Angeles soon. The project will be Waters’ first new restaurant in 50 years… Eater has confirmed that it will land at the Hammer Museum, part of UCLA’s sprawling campus in the Westwood neighborhood. Waters won’t be alone in the opening either. Chef and longtime food writer David Tanis is set to join the team, along with Jesse McBride (an operations lead who previously worked at hospitality spaces like Chateau Marmont and the Standard group of hotels), plus Oliver Monday who will serve as the restaurant’s primary forager.” Sorry everyone else opening in LA, but this place is going to get… a little attention.
The Suits – Restaurant Revitalization Fund prioritization of businesses owned by women, veterans, and socio-economically disadvantaged individuals still appears bogged down in court (last I saw the SBA was ostensibly blocked from prioritizing anyone), and I’m not sure where that leaves applicants. But along those same lines in Arizona, delivery apps have settled a case regarding their prioritization of Black-owned businesses in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Where before DoorDash, UberEats, et al were able to waive delivery fees for customers ordering from Black-owned restaurants, now the apps have agreed “not to offer financial incentives or price or delivery-related discounts to customers in Arizona based on an owner’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry.” Details via Adam Shaw in Fox Business.
The Profile Treatment – In the NYT last week, John Birdsall has: “The Forgotten Queer Legacy of Billy West and Zuni Café,” which doubles both as a fantastic history of a landmark SF restaurant, and a long overdue obituary of the man who put it (and more) on the map. Birdsall writes that after West’s passing, “What endures — Mr. West’s legacy — is the queering of the American restaurant: L.G.B.T.Q. people setting the terms for hospitality openly, beyond the gay ghetto. ‘Zuni,’ said DavidTanis, the cookbook author and New York Times columnist, ‘always was and has remained the gayest restaurant in San Francisco.’”
On Twitter, Birdsall added: “It's also a story about how the restaurant industry has never reckoned with the tragedy of AIDS. Theater, art, fashion: they've acknowledged the toll AIDS took on a creative generation. Restaurants and food media never publicly mourned, never told the stories of those who died.” Highly recommend reading West’s story.
The Trades – Restaurant Business news in Restaurant Business: “The National Restaurant Association has taken a majority stake in Restaurant Business owner Winsight Holdings, LLC, the companies said on Tuesday, in a unique deal that intensifies a three-year-old partnership between the two organizations. That partnership began with Winsight’s 2018 acquisition of the annual National Restaurant Association Show... In addition to the Show, Winsight operates the annual Restaurant Leadership Conference, the technology-focused FSTEC, the Global Restaurant Leadership Conference and Outlook Leadership. It also owns Technomic, market intelligence firm that provides insights to the food and beverage industries. And in addition to Restaurant Business, Winsight owns the c-store publication CSP, Foodservice Director and Winsight Grocery Business.” This obviously gives a massive lobbying group control over quite a media arm, but RB EIC Jonathan Maze would like to assure you that coverage will not be compromised.
Asked if that was true, a spokesperson for the NRA told me (as far as you know): “WINK.”
The Fallout – On Lummi Island, the NYT’s Julia Moskin and Hallie Golden report: “About 50 protesters gathered Friday night outside the Willows Inn... The protesters, mostly island residents, were calling for the resignation of Blaine Wetzel.” Seems Wetzel’s strategy of refusing to discuss the allegations made in Moskin’s April 27th exposé is not working well with the islanders. “Local resentment has flared against the Willows’ management: Mr. Wetzel; Reid Johnson, the longtime manager, who also remains in place; and Tim McEvoy, the inn’s co-owner.” And although the piece cites some guests crossing the picket line on their way to tasting menus (with one man “yelling an expletive at the crowd”), “According to three people who have worked at the restaurant… 10 staff members — nearly half of the total — resigned soon after [the original exposé] was published; hundreds of reservations were canceled, and those customers’ deposits, usually in the realm of $500, were refunded with no comment.”
The Media – Charleston Post & Courier restaurant critic Hanna Raskin announced she is leaving the paper to start a newsletter as part of Substack’s new “Substack Local” program, which, as with all of Substack’s programs, aims to give a small portion of my subscription earnings to someone else. Per the official release: “Hanna plans to publish reports, reviews, and analyses on the food-and-beverage industry and dining culture across the Southeast.” Here’s a map of the region Raskin says her new “The Food Section” will cover, and here’s where you can sign up pre-launch. I’m signed up!
And FYI: Raskin’s old job is up for grabs. “The Post and Courier… is looking for a critic/reporter to lead our award-winning food and dining coverage in one of America’s best food cities… As the critic and lead food and dining reporter at The Post and Courier, you will have everything you need to do the job right.” So, money?
The Media Too – And at the NYT, Tuesday news from editors Sam Sifton, Emily Weinstein and Patrick Farrell: “We’re delighted to announce that Christina Morales of the Express desk will be joining us as a reporter for Food and Cooking.” Congrats!
Awards Season – Per Emily Heil in the Washington Post: “Toni Tipton-Martin, a cookbook author, culinary historian, and editor in chief of Cook’s Country magazine, was selected by the jury from the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts to receive its seventh annual [Julia Child Award]… Tipton-Martin says she plans to use the award’s $50,000 grant to fund a mentorship program for women in food journalism.”
The Trailer – Director Morgan Neville’s: “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” has a brand new trailer as of yesterday. It’s going to trigger a lot of emotions in friends and fans, especially a few seconds in, when Bourdain narrates: “You’re probably going to find out about in anyway, so here’s a little preemptive truth-telling: There’s no happy ending.” A tagline on the site reads: “It’s not where you go. It’s what you leave behind . . .” Damn. In Theaters July 16th.
And Last and Least: For TV Fans – Have you been pitching shows to the Food Network? Welp. Here’s what they actually bought for this year: A show where host Kal Penn puts contestants through “increasingly tough taste tests”; a Shark Tank type thing where “future flavor gurus” pitch ice cream flavors to Ben & Jerry; a home cooking show from Chrissy Teigen’s mom; a Voltaggio brothers cooking competition, and more… Including one called The Globe hosted by Robert Irvine and “lead-judge Daniela Soto-Innes” where “four chefs compete within an immersive set made up of LED screen projectors that transports the competitors anywhere on earth.” Kind of like eating at Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, but with a slight glitch when the walls start showing Lummi?
And also… “among the newly announced series is Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey’s After Dark hosted by Sunny Anderson. It’s set in the Hersheyland park late at night, and features confectioners braving the creepy, deserted amusement park to solve puzzles and mold chocolate amid a scary atmosphere.”
Anyway, sorry to all of you who had big ideas that didn’t get the greenlight this time. Your pitches were probably very good! They just weren’t confectioners-braving-a-creepy-deserted-amusement-park-to-solve-puzzles good.
And that’s it for today!
I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday, and everyone else in one week for next Family Meal. If you’d like to get these on Tuesdays too…
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