Semi Beards, Spicy Joe, Caring Hirst, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, February 25th, 2022
And hello again from Hong Kong, where the top story in the paper today was not about Ukrainians fleeing Ukraine, but… expats fleeing Hong Kong. Everyone working with varying degrees(!) of stress out there, so I will do what I always do and assume we are all getting the big heavy stuff from more reputable sources while Family Meal chugs on light and loose.
FYI: Tuesdays’ Family Meal is copy/pasted below for non-paying subscribers as usual, but it’s not a usual Family Meal. It is the full results of the survey I sent out last fall. You are welcome.
Let’s get to it…
Beard Season – Press release Wednesday: “Today, we are announcing our 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists in advance of the returning James Beard Awards presented by [a credit card similar to Amex, say, or Visa].” This is the long list, with around 20 semi-finalists each in over 20 categories, so you’re better off heading straight to the source to scan them all.
Sample bellwether: Best New Restaurant. And the semifinalists are… ABACÁ (SF); Angry Egret Dinette (LA); Bacanora (Phoenix); BARDA (Detroit); Café Mamajuana (Burlington, VT); Casian Seafood (Lafayette, CO); Dhamaka (NYC); Fritai (NOLA); Gage & Tollner (NYC); Horn BBQ (Oakland); Kasama (Chicago); Kimika (NYC); Laser Wolf (Philadelphia); Leeward (Portland, ME); Lengua Madre (NOLA); MACHETE (Greensboro); Matia Kitchen & Bar (Orcas Island, WA); The Marble Table (Billings); Nani's Piri Piri Chicken (Asheville); NiHao (Baltimore); Owamni (Minneapolis); Oyster Oyster (D.C.); Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House (San Leon, TX); República (Portland, OR); Roots Southern Table (Farmers Branch, TX); Sooper Secret Izakaya (Honolulu); Union Hmong Kitchen (Minneapolis); Ursula (NYC); Zacatlán Restaurant (Santa Fe); and Zitz Sum (Coral Gables).
I’m already seeing some names pulled out for special (not good) attention, so the Foundation’s vetting team has its work cut out for it…
Next key dates:
March 16, 2022: Restaurant and Chef nominees (finalists) announcement, plus awards ceremony (in Scottsdale?) for the Leadership Honorees, Lifetime Achievement winner, and Humanitarian of the Year winner.
April 27, 2022: Media Awards nominee announcement.
June 13, 2022: Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony in Chicago.
No dates yet for the media ceremony, but if I am nominated, I will be there. Please take that into account — pro or con — voters!
P.S.: The Cards – I kid, but the 2022 Beards are really presented by Capital One, and there’s a good chance they’ll use this year’s awards to remind everyone that they’re taking on Amex-Resy and creating what beloved humanitarian / celebrity chef / corporate-finance shill (multitudes!) José Andrés calls: “Capital One Dining, a reservation platform… that lets cardholders book reservations at some incredible restaurants in select cities in just a few taps.” Launching next month, per his Instagram.
The Fallout – “In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants organization has confirmed to Robb Report that it will no longer hold its marquee event in Moscow this summer.” A rep told Jeremy Repanich, “At this current time, we are planning on holding the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 in London in July.”
Awards Season – If you need to butter up some food media types, the American Society of Magazine Editors is out with finalists (and some awardees) in various digital and print categories. Quick scan of food related noms: Epicurious for “How to Serve Every Cheese,” with Anne Saxelby; The New Yorker for “How to Cook With Your Microwave,” “The Timeless Fantasy of Stanley Tucci Eating Italian Food” and “How to Get a Table at Carbone,” by Helen Rosner; SAVEUR for “Meet Manhattan’s New Guard of Wine Pros,” photographs by Paola + Murray; Eater for “Filling Up”; and probably others… Congrats, all!
The Boycott – Full disclosure, I have not delved into the recent Joe Rogan stuff as much others, but after all the controversy — a supercut of him using the N word and calling a theater full of Black people “Planet of the Apes”; credence given to anti-vax types; and more — around the show, I was surprised to see chef / restaurateur Daniel Holzman promoting his new FoodIQ book on there this week. Skipping around, there’s some funny cooking chit chat; support for pro-gun, pro-Trump coffee brand Black Rifle; and around 02:12:00, a long “let’s google that” conversation where Rogan keeps floating the idea that hot sauce was invented in tropical countries to make it safe to eat tainted food. Holzman tries shutting that down several times, but if you want a sense of how Rogan’s “I’m just trying to learn things” shtick applies to food, it goes a little like this…
Rogan at 02:15:00: “Let’s just go google ‘hot peppers kill bacteria’, like spicy peppers, because I think that is what I had heard first, and I think Bourdain might have been the one who told me that.”
Maybe he’s right! Then again, maybe not? Maybe appearing on Rogan’s show will sell tons of books and the rest of food media will shrug it off and/or are not worth worrying about anyway. Then again, maybe not? Lotta potential nuance here. Do your own research, folks!
And Last and Least: For Design Fans – This may be the first ever Design Fans item without photos, but I need you to close your eyes, have someone else read this excerpt from Oliver Shah’s Sunday Times profile of London restaurateur Richard Caring to you, and imagine: “He points out where the public bar and restaurant will be, where the private members will hide, where a giant Damien Hirst sculpture of winged lovers embracing on a unicorn will float. The millionaire artist… is making four such pieces for Bacchanalia. The ceilings will be covered in Sistine Chapel-style frescoes. Caring has been buying ancient statues from Christie’s and Sotheby’s to decorate the place — ‘2,000-plus years old’.”
“When we buy real art, I don’t count that in the cost,” Caring says. “As long as you don’t buy it stupidly, you can always get your money back.”
Words to live by.
And that’s it for today! Except of course for Tuesday’s Family Meal (survey results) which are copy / pasted below as usual. If you’d like to get next Tuesdays’ on Tuesday…
I’ll see paying subscribers here Tuesday and everyone else on Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a giant Damien Hirst sculpture of winged lovers embracing on a unicorn to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, please chip in here. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!
Here begins Family Meal that went out to paying subscribers on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022:
Curveball: Family Meal Survey Results
And hello to paying subscribers only! Heads up: This is not a normal Family Meal.
A bit of a mea culpa here: I totally forgot about President’s Day, which is one of the many Mondays each year that food media takes off because they have somehow convinced the powers that be that they are “hard workers” who deserve “a break.” Bah Hoover.
I usually nix Family Meal on holiday weekends due to the dearth of usable news, but since I forgot to mention that today would be an off day, I decided to at least send an email with this apology (sorry!) and some old material.
So… Today’s Family Meal will be the long delayed and much anticipated reveal of the results of last fall’s Family Meal Reader Survey. If you don’t care about those, please navigate away from this email, and I’ll see you on Friday for next Family Meal. If you do…
Let’s get to it…
This goes, in order: Who responded; What they want from Family Meal; Fun questions. Skip around as you wish.
First, Responders – Close to 200 people filled out the form, but some skipped questions here and there. Around 54% of responders worked in and around restaurants, 20% worked in food media, and 25% don’t have jobs related to restaurants. (I don’t think that reflects actual Family Meal readership. I think that reflects Family Meal survey takers.)
Those that worked in restaurants were 57% owner or head chef; 30% management; 28% BOH; 26% FOH; 7% bar; and a handful of marketing managers, operations types, etc etc.
NB: Wherever percentages add up to more or less than 100, assume I allowed people to check multiple boxes and/or my rounding is off. It was my first survey.
Those that worked around restaurants were all over the place: Investors, tech workers, various versions of “consultant,” a restaurant bike mechanic(!), and more. But the majority were in PR, supply, design, and real estate.
88% said they read Family Meal to see things they might have missed otherwise. 66% read it for my takes on the news. And 33% read it to confirm their own cold-hearted yet improbably optimistic worldview. My soulmates.
Second, Opinions – I’ll save you a full rundown on the advice I was seeking, but: A solid majority of you like Family Meal the way it is, though many said an update of format “wouldn’t hurt” and a picture now and then would be just fine. If you were to add anything, it’d be lists of links to more headlines (working on it!). Oh, and if Family Meal were to team up with other related newsletters for some kind of bundle subscription deal, 80% of you would be into it!
Third, Based – Here come your opinions, Q by Q…
Dave Chang is…
2%: A spectacular chef who promotes a diverse leadership team in a great restaurant group and is constantly working on himself so deserves forgiveness for past issues in an industry where everyone has been doing the same bad shit forever.
6%: Just another abusive jerk who should go away.
65%: Somewhere in between but he gets too much attention either way
8%: Somewhere in between but I don't think he's overcovered
5% Going to start putting out some ridiculous video content soon and there's nothing any of us can do about it.
Sample “other”: “The overcovered option but wanted to add he was in an episode of Blues Clues for godsake!” (The other category here was mostly a mix of “That guy sucks!” and “We’re all human.” with a smattering of “New faces, please!”, so it feels like the pre-populated answers captured the zeitgeist.)
32%: A great source for restaurant news, and all kinds of industry / food stories!
28%: A great source for restaurant news, but beyond that not for me.
1%: The anti-capitalist, social justice food site of my dreams.
4%: The anti-capitalist, social justice food site of my nightmares.
Sample “others”: “Is Eater anti-capitalist? I must be more commie than I thought.” “As good as its editor in whatever city.” “It puts asses in seats!” (There were also a handful of somewhat accusatory comments which I can’t include here without more vetting / reporting. Sorry!)
39%: Play a vital role in the restaurant ecosystem.
18%: Are an anachronism we can leave behind.
12%: Should stick to food.
57%: Should consider the wellbeing of staff, the politics of the chef, and beyond.
5%: Basically tousled Trump's hair and are the reason for January 6th.
One Fair Wage is…
39%: Doing God's work (and I think God is cool).
5%: Doing Beelzebub's bidding (and I don't think highly of Beelzebub).
56%: A real purgatory situation.
The James Beard Foundation is a force for…
78%: The James Beard Foundation
10%: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Alice Waters once told the NYT, "Younger men are my Achilles' heel." Your reaction:
11%: "A man would never get away with saying something like that!"
16%: "Mine too, sister. Mine too."
1%: "Oh. Hey. Cool cooking and stuff. Ever hear of TikTok? I'm kind of a big deal..."
25%: "Oh my God, Andrew, that was like four years ago. How often do you think about her?"
Name someone who got cancelled but you don't think deserved it or think they should be forgiven:
Top answer by a mile: Alison Roman.
Interesting inclusions: Johnny Iuzzini, Andrew Zimmern, Paul Qui, April Bloomfield, Chrissy Tiegen, “everyone deserves a second chance,” and “Maybe that white guy that did the pho video (for eater?)”
Name someone who hasn't been cancelled yet but should be:
For obvious reasons, I’m not going to start listing out everyone you guys thought should be cancelled, but wooo boy. It’s about 70 names long and an impressive list! There are big name chefs and restaurateurs, people from your favorite food non-profits, TV personalities, and on down to the locally infamous. One somewhat righteous food Twitter type was described as “a ticking time bomb” and different dead people were described as “recipe writing hack” and “born into privilege but insists the industry is a meritocracy.”
Are you nervous? YOU SHOULD BE.
And last and least:
How can "moist" be the worst word when "polyp" exists?
40%: GREAT QUESTION!
60%: GOOD POINT!
And that’s it for today!
Sorry I didn’t have time to put this all into some sort of fancy infographic for you all. If you made it this far, thank you so much for bearing with me and responding to the survey and generally supporting this newsletter. It is a labor of love, and I love you all. Though based on responses to the “who should be cancelled?” question, I am also VERY suspicious of some of you…
I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or maybe that white guy that did the pho video (for eater?) to email@example.com. If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, please chip in here. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!
And PS - Any time there was space in the survey for people to add their own thoughts, many of you wrote the nicest things about my work on Family Meal. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated those words. Thank you! Thank YOU!
Keep in touch!