Sucré succumbs, Clark revisited, 51-120, P.S. representation, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, June 21st, 2019
Quick reminder that there will be no Family Meal this Tuesday, as I’ll be in Singapore struggling to recognize famous chefs. If anyone has flashcards, please send my way. And thanks so much to everyone who sent tips!
Let’s get to it…
The Lists – Speaking of the big show, World’s 50 Best put out numbers 51-120 on Tuesday. Unfortunately, they didn’t send me the press release, so guess I have to go with Eater’s take: “Everyone Congratulate the World’s 50 Best for Including Six Women on Its New, Longer Long List.” If you’re picking up heavy sarcasm that’s because 50 Best apparently described this list - with 6 women out of 70 entries - as “female forward.” Hillary Dixler Canavan’s analysis: “Some perennial top 50 favorites have fallen off this year: Alex Atala’s D.O.M. in Sao Paulo has fallen from 30 to 54; the Ledbury in London has fallen from 42 to 64; Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo from 41 to 62. Meanwhile, last year’s Best Female Chef winner Clare Smyth made it onto the long list this year, with her London restaurant Core by Clare Smyth debuting at 66.”
Some pieces are also implying Dominque Crenn’s Atelier Crenn was snubbed, but maybe it finally has a shot at top 50?
P.S. – On representation: Great that Eater is holding others’ feet to the fire, and trying to highlight a diverse pipeline with their Young Guns and general coverage decisions. But… maybe more introspection is in order for fellow superlative list-makers. The latest 38 Essential Restaurants in NYC won’t win gender diversity awards any time soon (think there are two kitchens led solely by women?). And I’m no expert on Chicago geography, but if you’re going to call this a map of “Every Important Cocktail Bar in Chicago,” you’re probably going to have to explain yourselves to the rest of the city at some point…
All to say: Lots to discuss. Glad we can all talk and throw stones at the same time.
Lists I like – Eater cities started putting out their helpful “Most Anticipated Restaurants of the Summer” rundowns this week. So far, I’ve seen: Chicago, Los Angeles (including new spots from: Dave Beran, Melissa Perello, Sang Yoon, David Chang, Jessica Koslow, Gabriela Camara, Caroline Styne, Suzanne Goin, Margarita Manzke, and Walter Manzke, oh my!), Portland, OR, Montreal, and Las Vegas. More soon, I’m sure.
For Pastry: The Close – Per Todd A. Price at Nola.com: “On Monday morning (June 17), the staff of Sucré were told to gather at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of the dessert shop’s Mid-City [New Orleans] central kitchen. Hans Baumann, Sucré's CEO, delivered the bad news to the 50 or so gathered employees: the company would shut down immediately.” A complete shock to most, but a reliable source tells me the sexual harassment suits against chef and co-founder Tariq Hanna had finally pushed finances over the edge, and there is a strong possibility the company will file for bankruptcy.
The Profile Treatment – Highly recommend this twenty-years-late quasi-obituary of Patrick Clark (“executive chef at the groundbreaking New American restaurant The Odeon at age 25, a James Beard Award–winner—a first for a black chef—at 39”) from Korsha Wilson in Food & Wine this week: “I found a grainy video of Clark competing in the 1997 Iron Chef World Cup semifinals… I could see his pride at being invited to represent the United States. But I also knew what the outcome would be. Clark lost that round of the championships to Alain Passard, and just a few short months after the program aired, he died of heart failure at age 42.” With cameos from Preston Clark, Edouardo Jordan, Marcus Samuelsson, and more.
The Suits – At the bottom of guest checks at Dacha in D.C., there’s a little note saying, “In lieu of tips, an 18% gratuity is added to all checks.” I know what I’d think that meant if I were a customer, but an owner clarifies to the Washingtonian’s Anna Spiegel: “Gratuity is the revenue of the business that’s completely different to what we pay our employees.” Not a great line for generating public goodwill when you’re facing a $270k fraud suit for allegedly stiffing suppliers.
For the Somm – A high-end loan negotiator named Lauren Ridenhour said she found some accounting issues at the cult Bryant Estate winery in Napa, but “after attempting to rectify the alleged inaccuracies, Ridenhour claims she was fired and not paid.” So, of course, she sued, and now the inaccuracies are public. Don’t want to kick people while they’re down, but according to Esther Mobley’s reporting in the SF Chronicle, Ridenhour alleges that at the time of her audit, “Bryant Estate had over $14 million of unsold wine, the complaint alleges, and a 40% decline in sales over three years.” So… you may be able to negotiate a better bulk discount this year.
The Pride – FYI, the new Eat Queer site from Jarry is live. If it’s right for your business, get on it!
And last and least – Hat tip to Amy McCarthy for tweeting about this bizarre article from CultureMap Houston’s Ken Hoffman, in which he recounts going on a joint review of sorts with Chronicle critic Alison Cook in 2015 at The Pass side of The Path and Provisions. “I passed each thimble-sized glass of wine across the table to Alison, same as I did with each plate of small food. First course, and I have to take Alison’s word for it: ‘a lush red tomato, cloaked in dark green chervil powder and quinoa. It came with its own “vinaigrette” of coconut oil and tomato water, sealed inside a white sphere of milk solids that looked like a white chocolate truffle.’ All yours, Alison. Seven more plates, seven more wine pairings found their way to Alison’s side of the table.” Hoffman seems to half-imply this is all part of an act on his part, but if that’s your shtick, you may be a…
And that’s it for today!
Otherwise, I’ll see you in a week for next Family Meal.
And (I repeat) don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or in lieu of tips, gratuity, which is to say cash, for me, and no one else, 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!
P.S. - While I’m throwing stones from my (oh so fragile) glass house. If I were the editor of a big American food section, I’d probably pass the recipe baton on days like Juneteenth. I’m sure your bbq chicken is great, and Mark Bittman’s watermelon lemonade is chef’s-kiss, but something tells me there’s a missed opportunity here… And on a totally unrelated note, here’s what appears to be a subtweet from writer Mayukh Sen: “i guess this needs to be said because of a certain major food publication's baffling editorial decisions: there are many talented, agile queer food writers/reporters working today you could commission to write your pride stories.”