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Shepherd out, IRC around, Food media horny, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, July 22nd, 2022
Tuesday’s paid Family Meal is copy / pasted below as usual, but I must warn you: We are definitely in the dog days of food media summer now. No doubt about it. That said, I have heard rumblings on some bigger articles coming down at least one pike? So we’ll see if things don’t get more interesting before seasonal menus move toward fall…
Here in DC, reservations at the top spots are very hard to come by, but I’m hearing a surprising number of people concerned about whether we’ll be eating outdoors or in. Seems to be mostly people with young (unvaccinated) kids, but I’m sure that attitude, combined with a heat wave, is knocking down some cover totals this week. Same where you are?
Let’s get to it…
Before we get started: The Correction – I said on Tuesday that the World’s 50 Best restaurants list included only two US restaurants, Le Bernardin and Atomix in NYC. Apologies to the SingleThread team for missing their inclusion at #50.
The Departure – Not sure I’ve ever seen a local “developing news” video segment on a chef leaving his restaurant group, but on Wednesday, ABC 13 in Houston broke this news on air: “In a seismic shift in the Houston restaurant scene, James Beard award-winning chef Chris Shepherd is stepping away from Underbelly Hospitality, a restaurant group that runs some of the most well-known eateries in the city.”
Behind the paywall at the Chronicle, Greg Morago reports, “Underbelly Hospitality will now be run by MLB Capital Partners, the restaurant group’s major investor. The Houston-based private investment company is led by Todd Mason, Jeff Lindenberger and Fred Baca. MLB, which owns the Houston Farmers Market where two Underbelly concepts are operated, came on as Underbelly investors in 2018.” MLB is working on a buyout plan now, and says negotiations are “amicable.”
I assume (with no insider knowledge) there are some of the usual money / control issues behind the move, but Shepherd is telling media he’s mostly leaving to focus more on his Southern Smoke festival and charity.
Good luck, all!
The Lobbyists – Looks like the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) is slowly figuring out what its role might be post-pandemic. In an email to “friends” this week, Exec Director Erika Polmar says she was in DC recently to “continue our work of educating lawmakers on the integral role of independent restaurants in our economy and communities nationwide. The visit also served as an opportunity to cultivate the IRC's relationships with Congressional allies and industry partners.”
For now, the payoff of those relationships is still COVID relief. Polmar’s result this week was: “A letter signed by 48 Senators to SBA Administrator Guzman urging the SBA to process EIDL applications that were received prior to the May 6, 2022 deadline. The letter sharply criticizes the SBA’s handling of this program and indicates that the remaining $800 million in loan subsidy can support more than $7 billion in lending.” Unfortunately, I see only a handful of Republicans on that list, including Senators Roger Wicker, Bill Cassidy, and Joe Manchin.
The Media (opportunity) – Announced yesterday: “Eater NY Is Hiring a New Lead Editor. We’re looking for someone endlessly fascinated with the New York City dining scene.” Full job posting here. I’d do it, but I’m only mostly fascinated.
And last and least: The Thirst – We must now address the bear in the room, which are these headlines about that Hulu show, The Bear:
Salon: “Why is everyone so horny for kitchen slang?” (Answer: The Bear.)
NY Mag: “The Hottest Show of the Summer Has No Sex.”
Uproxx: “Will (And Should) Carmy Have Sex In ‘The Bear’ Season 2?” (“Debate” centers on whether being with a woman (always a Zelda!) would ruin his creative drive.)
And Mel Magazine: “Jeremy Allen White In ‘The Bear’ Looks Like The Type Of Fuckboy Every Woman Knows.” Sub-hed: “Images of a disheveled, tattooed guy named Carmy have many reminiscing about that one guy they banged behind a dumpster.”
I’m only one episode in, so am prepared to get this shoved back in my face, but… I’m loving that all these articles refer to Carmy, who (so far) seems like one of the most ambitious, hardest working, biggest dreaming characters on TV, as a “dirtbag” or “scumbag.”
So…. Congrats to all the actual kitchen scumbags who will get confused for him in what Bon Appétit’s Sarah York called this “Line Cook Summer”!
And for a big pop culture close out: I like to imagine Kanye West reading all these stories after someone sends him that viral tweet last year that described Pete Davidson as having “chaos goblin line cook” energy.
“I'm so gifted at findin' what I don't like the most / So I think it's time for us to have a toast / Let's have a toast for the douche bags / Let's have a toast for the assholes / Let's have a toast for the scumbags / Every one of them that I know/ Let's have a toast for the jerk offs / That'll never take work off / Baby, I got a plan / Run away fast as you can.”
And that’s it for today. Except of course for the Family Meal that went out to paying subscribers on Tuesday, which is copy / pasted below as usual. If you want to support this newsletter and get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays too…
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 the jerk offs that’ll never take work off 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 the Family Meal that went out to paying subscribers on Tuesday, July 19th, 2022. If you’d like to get Tuesdays’ on Tuesdays too…
50 Best Stans, MAD sustainability, Apps win, and more...
And hello to paying subscribers only!
Sorry these are later lately, but we are without childcare here in DC, and even though I keep getting up extra early to try to write this thing before the kids wake up, the kids keep waking up with me. My three year old is currently insisting I am the only one who can spread the butter on his toast this morning, so…
Let’s get to it…
Awards Season – The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards Sponsored by Water were back last night, this time in London and hosted by Stanley Tucci. Only two US restaurants made the list: Le Bernardin at 44, and Atomix at 33, both in NYC, of course. The top 10 in decending order are: Geranium, Copenhagen; Central, Lima; Disfrutar, Barcelona; DiverXO, Madrid; Pujol, Mexico City; Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo; A Casa do Porco, São Paolo; Lido84, Gardone Riviera; Quintonil, Mexico City; and La Calandre in Rubano, Italy.
Official list here. Context and caveats from Hillary Dixler Canavan and Ryan Sutton in Eater here. And video of Tucci hosting and starting the night off by accidentally anthropomorphizing the sponsor as Stan Pellegrino here.
Personally, I’m starting to view this list more as a guide to where all the judges — food media, chefs, various comp-and-flattery enthusiasts — are traveling lately. Russian restaurants were not allowed (the awards were supposed to be in Moscow this year), and a lot of Asia made tourism tough this year, which is presumably part of why the top restaurant on that continent was number 20 (Den in Tokyo). But it seems like beyond Copenhagen, everyone in Europe has been headed back to the Basque region and many trophy hunters are venturing to big cities in the Americas below the Rio Grande. Congrats to those places! Here’s to your new tourists keeping their COVID and leaving their wallets!
The Talk – Speaking of Copenhagen influence, I missed the fact that MAD, the group behind the restaurant / food Symposiums (and now Academy) started by René Redzepi back in 2011, has taken the show on the road for a series of “MAD Mondays” talks around the world. Unfortunately, I learned about MAD Mondays because of yesterday’s Eater LA headline: “Mariscos Jalisco Declines to Participate in MAD Event Due to Inadequate Compensation.” MJ’s Raul Ortega told reporter Bill Esparza that “Raduno, the creative agency organizing the event on behalf of MAD, offered him $1,000 to serve 200 people,” which Ortega says is below their catering minimum and not enough to cover costs.
A spokesperson for MAD points out that “In keeping with MAD Mondays tradition, [participating restaurants] are being recognized in front of the audience and also promoted in our event collateral and on MAD’s social channels,” which sounds like an attempted mix of “in-kind sponsorship” and “think of the exposure!” Some restaurants are happy with that trade! But it’s hard to read that an organization that has spent so much time talking about sustainability and mental health in the restaurant industry is asking restaurants to play a version of the US food festival game. In order to destroy the system we must become the system? Maybe someone should give a MAD talk about that?
The Media – Announced this week: “The San Francisco Chronicle’s newest food reporter is Mario A. Cortez…. Cortez will cover restaurant news, write features on all things edible, and follow the Bay Area’s growing food technology scene.” Mugshot and bio included in the announcement, and he goes by @macortez619 on Twitter and Instagram.
And last but not least: The Delivery Suits – In a Bay Area case being watched by cities around the country: “Food delivery giants DoorDash and Grubhub have struck a tentative deal with San Francisco legislators to drop their fiery lawsuit against the city in exchange for modifications to a local law capping delivery fees for restaurants at 15%.” Elena Kadvany says those modifications “would allow owners to opt out of the 15% limit and pay more for further promotion of their businesses by using the apps’ marketing services. This is DoorDash’s model in cities without caps; restaurants can choose to pay 25% or 30% commission rates in exchange for marketing services and better visibility on the apps.”
So…. the apps get almost exactly what they wanted, and the city avoids court. “‘A rare win-win-win between the restaurants, the delivery companies and the legislative process,’ said Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.”
Fantastic room-where-it-happened side note: “The potential deal wouldn’t have happened, Thomas said, without a surprising intermediary: Uber. In recent months, the ride-hailing company, which operates food-delivery service Uber Eats and was not involved in the lawsuit against San Francisco, served as a go-between in behind-the-scenes talks among Thomas, city officials, and DoorDash and Grubhub.”
A trusted, totally impartial intermediary is sometimes just what negotiations need. Thanks, Uber!
And that’s it for today!
I am off to butter some bread, but will see everyone back here Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or faces and a surprising intermediary 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!