Sad news, Media moves, Lists, Pins, Stupak Kiss, and more...

Family Meal - Friday, July 12th, 2019

Hello Friday,

A wordy one today.

Let’s get to it…

To begin, some sad news – “Elka Gilmore, a San Francisco star chef in the 1990s whose charisma and talent helped shape an entire generation of pioneering female chefs, died July 6 of cardiac arrest due to ongoing medical conditions. Jennie Curtis, Gilmore’s former partner, confirmed the news... Gilmore was 59.” Justin Phillips has a full obit in the Chronicle.

And in GrubStreet, Nikita Richardson begins another obituary, “Anyone who ever enjoyed a meal at Momofuku Ko, Gramercy Tavern, Aquavit, Dirty Candy, Dig Inn, Westbourne, Fausto, Llama Inn, or Gem ate off a plate or out of a bowl made by Brooklyn-based ceramicist Wynne Noble. Yesterday, her company, Noble Plateware, announced via Instagram that the artist died after a short illness.”

The Media – Lots of moves of note lately. In no particular order… First, less on the restaurant side of things, but big for all you cookbook authors: Longtime Washington Post recipes editor Bonnie Benwick is moving on. No word on what she’ll do next, but Joe Yonan’s team is on the hunt for a new Recipes Editor as I type.

Second, two big New Orleans food writers are rising up from the ashes of nola.com / Times-Picayune: Brett Anderson has joined the Food desk of the New York Times “for the next year as a contributing writer” per an announcement from Sam Sifton, while Todd Price says he’s thrilled to “be joining a new Southern vertical Gannett will launch in September… writing in-depth, enterprise stories about food in New Orleans, Lafayette and the broader South.”

Third, after over ten years as lead critic for the Seattle Times, Providence Cicero says it’s time to “fold my napkin and push back from the table.” No word on what’s next for Cicero, but an editor’s note at the end of her goodbye piece reads, “We’re ramping up our food and drink coverage. Stay tuned for an announcement later this summer about our plans for the section.

Good luck, all!

The Lists – And Eater’s 16 best new restaurants in America 2019 are… Adda, NYC; Atomix, NYC; The Baker’s Table, Newport, KY; Call Your Mother, DC; Erizo, Portland, OR; Fox and the Knife, Boston; Indigo, Houston; The Jerk Shack, San Antonio; Khao Noodle Shop, Dallas; Kopitiam, NYC; Marrow, Detroit; Musi, Philadelphia; Nightshade, LA; Tacos 1986, LA; Verjus, SF; and Virtue in Chicago.

Congrats, all!

For the Bar – Headline in the SF Chronicle: “If you see your bartender wearing this pin, it means they aren’t drinking.” Details from Shanna Farrell: “the Pin Project, founded by Mark Goodwin, is a collective of bartenders who want to promote healing and understanding for those who are susceptible to the dangers of working in close proximity to alcohol.” Key point: It’s just a pin, so sobriety can be shift by shift as needed.

The (Mis)education of America’s Culinary Schools.” – From Korsha Wilson in Eater: “Coursework at traditional culinary schools has yet to reflect the diverse cooking happening in today’s restaurants… Since the first American culinary arts school was founded in Boston in 1879, curricula at schools like Johnson & Wales, the International Culinary Center, Institute of Culinary Education, and the Culinary Institute of America have emphasized French techniques and dishes, and a professional kitchen environment based on the brigade system…  At the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, students… cover the cuisines of Thailand, India, China, and Japan in a mere 48 hours of classwork. (For comparison, the school also offers a course highlighting the regional differences of French and Italian cuisine in the same number of hours.)” To be fair, the entire rest of the world gets zero dedicated hours on that list, so… congrats, Asia!

The Brief Wondrous Life of Molecular Gastronomy – In Robb Report, Jeremy Rapanich has a profile treatment of a movement, centered on Wylie Dufresne and WD~50. If molecular gastronomy is dead, Rapanich puts the causes of death as: Boredom – “‘When you’ve eaten a cloud once, the second time is not that surprising,’ Rene Redzepi says.” – and mediocrity – “Food from WD~50, El Bulli, Alinea and the Fat Duck played with perceptions of flavor and texture, engaging diners with thoughtful novelty. Other, less talented chefs just wanted to do really cool tricks. Often, the foams and fogs covered for bad cooking. ‘It’s like the pyrotechnics at a Kiss concert,’ Alex Stupak says. ‘Take that away, take your face paint away and you suck.’”

NB: That’s an odd comment considering this brief documentary about the exact moment Stupak decided to give up pastry. (Clickbait warning: It’s a KISS video. But guys, come on, this is uncanny.)

For Design Fans – Would I spend the entire meal making awkward eye contact with the person directly across the bar from me, culminating in improve-style mirror exercises? Yes. But there is so much to love about Tsukimi’s style in this NYC Wallpaper photo spread that I don’t care. Maybe a line-and-curve too far for some, but I’m a sucker for sleek and modern on top of old and tiled.

And last and least – UK critic William Sitwell has been getting some calls lately: “It began with a number of missed calls from numbers I didn’t recognise. The following day, my voicemail duly offered up the first recorded message: ‘I’m going to be waiting for you. I’m going to come and find you,’ it said. ‘Things are going to get really dirty. I mean it, I seriously mean it.’ The person calling me is Richard Wilkins, the chef of a restaurant called 104. It’s a tiny little place on Chepstow Road in Notting Hill. In my review, I took issue with a number of things….” Disregard Sitwell’s strange asides (“In the US, Mario Batali frequently slams food bloggers”), and this public rebuttal is one long lesson in why “revenge” on a critic is a dish best not attempted.

And that’s it for today! After spending a week straight at various tech conferences here in HK, I am officially launching my startup naming consultancy on Monday. Should be easy money considering the going strategy is: “Hey, what if we called our new company something really, really, really, really, I MEAN BUT REALLY stupid?”

I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.

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