Toxic Sweetgreen issues, The Franks assemble, Flamm out, Fall deco, and more...

Family Meal - Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Hello Tuesday,

Felt like a slow news weekend in the world of Family Meal. Which is weird, because there is… a lot going on in the world.

Let’s get to it…

The Container – Re those compostable bowls that make some fast casual places seem so green: FYI, “According to experts consulted for this story [from Joe Fassler in The New Food Economy], all molded fiber bowls contain PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a broad class of more than 4,000 fluorinated compounds that do not biodegrade naturally in the environment. This means that the bowls used at restaurants like Chipotle and Sweetgreen aren’t truly compostable, as has been claimed. Instead, they are likely making compost more toxic, adding to the chemical load of the very soil and water they were supposed to help improve. And rather than degrade quickly, they contain potentially hazardous ingredients that never break down. Not in five years, and not in 500.

The New Food Economy tested fiber bowls from 14 locations of 8 different New York City restaurants, including multiple outposts of Chipotle, Dig Inn (which has since changed its name to Dig), and Sweetgreen. All of the samples tested contained high levels of fluorine, which experts including Notre Dame chemist Graham Peaslee, who conducted the testing, say indicates treatment with PFAS compounds.” Oh.

The Big Gets – In the NYT, Amelia Nierenberg reports, “Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli, who own two well-established Italian restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan, have been planning to open a slice shop since last September… After a few false starts, the Franks, as they are collectively known, have found worthy co-conspirators. They are working with Chad Robertson, whose California bakery, Tartine, heavily influenced the starter- and whole-grain approach to dough, and the pizza maker Chris Bianco, of the celebrated Pizza Bianco in Phoenix. Mr. Robertson and Mr. Bianco have worked together at the Los Angeles incarnation of Tartine’s the Manufactory.” A supergroup. Like Cream, but crust.

Midwest Moves – Per Brianna Kelly in Crain’s Chicago, “‘Top Chef’ alum Joe Flamm is leaving Spiaggia to open his own restaurant. Spiaggia’s current chef de cuisine, Eric Lees, will become the executive chef of both Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia. He previously worked as the chef at Japanese restaurant Yusho in Logan Square…. [Flamm] joins several other successful chefs who trained under chef Tony Mantuano and went on to open their own restaurants. Missy Robbins served as Spaiggia and Cafe Spiaggia’s executive chef from 2003 to 2008… Sarah Gruen­berg started working at Spiaggia in 2005 as a line cook and rose through the ranks to chef de cuisine in 2008 and executive chef in 2010.”

The Close – “San Francisco’s Isla Vida, the last of the city’s prominent Afro-Caribbean restaurants, has closed. The shutdown happened quietly at the end of July, less than a year after Isla Vida opened its doors in the historically black Fillmore neighborhood. According to chef and co-owner Jay Foster, operating costs became too much for the business.” The Chronicle’s Justin Phillips has the details, including a reminder that the restaurant’s dire financial situation “was revealed in May when the owners launched an Indiegogo campaign with a ‘flexible’ $65,000 goal, all of which was designated to help the business pay rent and fund the implementation of a food delivery service. The campaign ended up raising $3,347.”

The Mixtape – We’re going to need a full multi-media take on restaurateur Jeremy Fall’s new place in L.A.’s Fairfax District. According to the LAT’s Hadley Tomicki, the art at Mixtape “includes an original sketch by Quincy Jones, a photo collage from rapper Vic Mensa and a painting by Incubus singer Brandon Boyd as well as entries from Tokimonsta, Serj Tankian and Jaden Smith. Anaheim-raised rapper Phora, who recently opened a boutique called Yours Truly on Fairfax, collaborated with Fall on the staff uniforms. Singer Robin Thicke has signed out to create playlists for Mixtape’s weekend brunch service.”

P.S. If you, like me, are curious as to the painting style of Incubus singer Brandon Boyd, I humbly suggest you begin with one of his simpler sketches, such as multi-panel composition “Side Boobs and Zombie Bruce” and then ease yourself into the rest of his repertoire. You’re welcome.

The Reader – FYI, the entire Fall 2019 edition of Gastronomica is available free online until the end of the year. It includes an interview with Sean Sherman (better known as the Sioux Chef), a piece on the “renaissance of artisanal cheesemaking… based upon fieldwork conducted over a decade in thirteen countries”, a look at M.F.K. Fisher as a fictional character, and more. It can get a bit dense, but it can’t get more free!

For Design Fans – In Philadelphia, in-house photographer Michael Persico lent Eater some pics of Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s new bakery/café, K’Far. This place hits all the… hits. There’s millennial pink upholstery, an atomic chandelier, brass pendants, a black-and-white letterboard, emerald green(ish) subway tiling, and mid-century modern curves galore. Quick, somebody send them some succulents and shout, “BINGO!”

And last and least – The next time you see writers or editors mocking a restaurant for a bad pitch / promotion / pun, just remember that this week Eater NY published a piece headlined: “Mario Carbone Is Having His Best Hot Girl Summer on Insta.” Spritz, please!

And that’s it for today!

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

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