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That Toast $$$, SF moves, the Book Beat, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, April 5th, 2019
Good morning from San Luis Obispo, California, where last night’s regular Thursday “farmer’s market” was 5% farmers, 60% brick-and-mortar-“popping-up”-five-feet-from-the-front-door, and 97% sweet corn as big as your forearm, dripping with mayo. America!
Let’s get to it…
The Raise – “Boston-based restaurant technology company Toast has secured a $250 million Series E round of funding, the company confirmed [Monday], less than a year after its last huge raise. The new influx of capital pushed Toast’s total valuation to $2.7 billion.” Details via Erika Adams in Skift Table, who says, “Toast will use the new round of funding to upgrade its data reporting capabilities for restaurateurs, invest in more hardware development… as well as launch new products to increase staff retention and better equip restaurateurs to effectively handle labor management. Toast also plans to develop more personalized guest marketing tools for restaurants.” (And take your money.)
The SC Matter – In Charleston, Hanna Raskin reports, “Two months after being put in charge of both McCrady’s properties, chef Jim Stein has been dismissed by Neighborhood Dining Group. According to spokeswoman Ashley Zink, the decision stemmed from a ‘private personnel matter.’… Reached for comment via Instagram, Stein said, ‘I have no comment other than that I respect the decision of NDG and their plans to move on.’”
The SF Moves – “Joshua Skenes, the lauded culinary mind behind Saison’s perfect three Michelin-star rating, says he is handing over total control of his San Francisco institution to current executive chef Laurent Gras, who Skenes also newly named co-owner of the restaurant Tuesday.” Details in the Chronicle from Justin Phillips. Also from Phillips: “In a surprising shift in the Mission District’s dining scene, Daniel Patterson has closed San Francisco’s influential, Michelin-starred Aster and will replace it with Prubechu, a Guamanian restaurant that was priced out of the neighborhood last fall.”
The Guide – After four years online only, Zagat NYC will be back in print next fall. Florence Fabricant has the details. FYI: “The company has no plans at the moment to bring back any of the printed guides besides the New York survey.”
The Best Practices – This piece from Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes focuses on restaurant accessibility in DC, but could just as easily apply anywhere. Best part: There’s a list of best practices at bottom that some of you could print out, hand to a manager, and make headway on with minimal effort this afternoon. As critics begin including accessibility notes in reviews (and publicly calling out bad faith), the first tip is an obvious starting point: “Keep a list at the host stand that denotes which tables are accessible and bullet points to describe a restaurant’s accessibility features should someone call.”
For the somm – The SF Chronicle’s Esther Mobley wrote about Vinny Eng’s “decision to leave his post as the wine director and general manager of Tartine Manufactory to join a local political campaign: Suzy Loftus for San Francisco district attorney.” Mobley explains the reaction to the story in her newsletter: “The story struck a chord because Eng strikes a chord wherever he goes, embodying a spirit of generous, warm hospitality that’s rare in this world. And because his move into political action was spurred by a uniquely tragic event: the 2012 killing of his sister Jazmyne by Los Angeles law enforcement.”
Book Beat: Bar Edition – “Shannon Mustipher, the resident rum expert at Glady’s Caribbean in Brooklyn, has just published ‘Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails,’ the first cocktail recipe book written by a working African American bartender and released by a major publisher in more than 100 years.” Osayi Endolyn’s LAT piece on the book is a companion profile / history lesson well worth a read.
Book Beat Too: Catering Edition – Food writing duo the Lee Brothers went “undercover” (which is a fancy way of saying they got jobs) as caterers for a new book that Kim Severson says, “is a revelatory, detail-rich and often breathless examination of a cutthroat world where the demanding clients include billionaires and celebrity brides but the cooking conditions resemble a mobile Army hospital.” Her write-up of it is a fun summary (though of course the NYT insists on self-parody: “Nowhere is catering practiced with as much cunning and challenge as in New York City.”), and there’s a bonus glossary of catering slang here.
And last but not least – Speaking of NYT parody… I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but it would be impossible not to include Lucas Peterson’s LA Times April Fools satire: “For cramped New York, an expanding dining scene.” In which the author discovers a bit of a food scene in an otherwise predictable city. “My first culinary encounter was with pizza, a mysterious kind of baked tlayuda, covered in macerated tomatoes and milk coagulation, and occasionally smothered with a type of thinly sliced lap cheong called pepperoni. The odd dish, sometimes referred to as a pie, washed ashore from Naples some years ago. While the taste takes some getting used to, pizza can be enchanting when done properly.”
In case you missed it, all the embedded links point to past NYT articles about LA…
And that’s it for today. Thanks much for bearing with me over the next few weeks as I travel around the country with three small kids (and their mom, who’s cool). If you see us out and about, please shout “DINOSAUR!” and run away. Confusion is peace.
See you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or the cunning and challenge of New York City 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. – I went looking for the soul of San Francisco and overheard this from a party of three at a bar there:
1: “Meatloaf is so trendy lately.”
2: “Ugh. I’m sorry, but meatloaf is low class.”
3: “I’m actually very classicist lately… against the rich.”