Robuchon gone at 73, no new vegans, an IACP exit, island profiles , and more...
Family Meal - Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
Let’s get right to it…
Some sad news – Per Reuters: “'Chef of the century', France's Joël Robuchon, dead at 73 … Robuchon, who at one point had earned more than 30 Michelin stars across nearly two dozen restaurants on three continents, died on Monday at his home in Geneva aged 73, his staff said.”
Here’s Pete Wells on L’Atelier Joël Robuchon: “There were no tablecloths, no chandeliers, no elaborately carved and upholstered chairs that might have come from a garage sale at Versailles. Food was cooked behind the counter by chefs dressed in the same black tunics the servers wore. Sometimes the chefs even placed the dish in front of the diner. The French daily Le Figaro summed up the general reaction when it proclaimed, ‘C’est une revolution!’ If you think the Figaro was overreacting, it’s because the revolution succeeded.” (Excerpted from the full NYT obit.)
That same Figaro has the French take, including more details on his last years (translation by Google): “Operated on more than a year ago for a pancreatic tumor that had greatly weakened him, he knew he was sick and then decided to sell his establishments very discreetly to an investment fund based in England and Luxembourg. A seven-year contract linked him to the new owners, forcing him against royalties to maintain the level of excellence of his addresses, to incarnate them all over the world. However, some openings announced in recent months had not materialized.”
And as usual, Eater is keeping a running list of social media reactions from friends, colleagues, and admirers. “Shocked and very sad by the loss of my Mentor Joël Robuchon. The most rigorous, precise, demanding, ultra gifted King of all Chefs...” – Eric Ripert. “Rigorous, precise, demanding,” might stray into euphemism depending who you ask...
Finally, two Robuchon eras, two Robuchon menus: First, writer Edward Schneider’s menu and receipt from Jamin in 1985. Second, the menu from the L’Atelier in Paris, back when Eater’s Daniela Galarza was working pastry there in 2005.
The Media – Yesterday, Eater EIC Amanda Kludt tweeted: “psyched to welcome @rafeboogs [Rafe Bartholomew], talented editor, chronicler of sportsthings, and more or less child of McSorley’s as Eater’s new features editor. maybe wait a week and then send him all your glorious pitches at firstname.lastname@example.org.” Rafe’s website with relevant writings and links is here.
The Media Association – After 5 years at the helm, Martha Holmberg is stepping down from her role as CEO of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). The board will be accepting applications for her replacement until September 1st. Pro: “The position offers an unparalleled opportunity to shape IACP’s future, and play a leading role in the culinary landscape.” Con: You will not be eligible to win awards. Application details here.
The Fallout – In Manhattan, “White Gold Butchers — the Upper West Side gem originally opened by both Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield — has closed.” Details in Eater NY.
The (Islands) Profile Treatments – Over in the Pacific, the NYT’s Ligaya Mishan has a great longread this week on “The Chefs Redefining Polynesian Cuisine”, with cameos from Monique Fiso (Hiakai, New Zealand), Monica Galetti (Mere, London), Louis Tikaram (E.P. & L.P., LA), Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s, Eating House, etc., all over), Alan Wong (Alan Wong’s, Honolulu), and more. “When Fiso serves a plate of kumara (sweet potato) gnocchi in a sauce of huhu grubs, which feed on rotten wood and have a taste at once buttery and musty, it’s neither novelty nor dare. This was the food of her people, now brought to the light of the modern day.”
And in the Caribbean, Korsha Wilson details chef Digby Stridiron’s past year of “challenges and clarity” for Bon Appetit: “’I took off my chef jacket, and you don’t have to call me a chef if you don’t want to,’ he says. ‘Besides Jose [Enrique of Puerto Rico], there’s not much award recognition in the Caribbean, and it makes Caribbean chefs feel like they have to make our food something different, something more European, and it’s like, no, what we’re doing is already beautiful.’”
The Flat Line – “The number of Americans who self-identify as vegetarian or vegan has remained steady over the past 20 years — and it’s still a pretty small group, according to a recent Gallup poll. Five percent of Americans identify as vegetarian, a rate that has remained unchanged since the previous survey in 2012. In 1999, when the survey was first taken, as well as in 2001, 6 percent of Americans identified as vegetarian. Rates of veganism have followed a similar trajectory. This year, 3 percent of respondents identified as vegan — a slight increase from 2 percent in 2012. What’s remarkable is how little has changed, even as our food culture and habits have evolved over the past 20 years.” Details, caveats, and a troll photo of Joe Yonan’s carrot-dogs, via Maura Judkis in WaPo.
For design fans – Eater LA has this photo spread of LDH Kitchen’s new The Robata, where “The entire restaurant has been outfitted with what is essentially stage lighting, allowing sweeps and swirls of color along the walls, changing landscape images in the dining room, and some generally trippy visuals.” Designer: “What kind of clientele do you want to attract?” Investor: “Drugs.” Designer: “Say no more.”
And last but not least, a “pretty awkward thing” – From SF Chronicle wine writer Esther Mobley: “Beginning in 2012, a newly available grapevine — Monastrell, a Spanish clone of the grape variety most commonly known as Mourvedre — surged in popularity among Paso Robles wine growers. More than 200,000 Monastrell vines were sold, the equivalent of about 200 acres. It’s not known how much wine those vines have produced, but if you’ve drunk Central Coast Mourvedre from the last few vintages, there’s a chance those [Sunridge Nursery] Monastrell vines were its source…. Only it wasn’t Monastrell at all. It wasn’t even a clone of Mourvedre. As [Sunridge rep Andrew Jones] informed his clients in a letter in July, the vines sold as Monastrell were actually Graciano — a minor grape variety from Spain’s Rioja region. ‘It’s a pretty awkward thing,’ Jones admits.”
And that’s it for today. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 200,000 times, no matter where you are, or what you’re up to in life, remember: There’s no such thing as a minor grape. Except Graciano, which is pathetic.
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
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