Unending incidents, Tien departs, Chang disposes, SevenRooms raises, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, June 26th, 2020
Do I have good news for you today or what?!
Let’s get to it…
The Incidents – It boggles the mind not that this stuff happens, but that it is happening now and in public. I know that’s a flawed prism to view this stuff through, but… a quick sample of things I read this week:
The GM at Seattle’s Momiji called a woman the n-word in an incident that, per Eater’s Gabe Guarente, “took place in the area now known at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), a community that formed during Seattle’s protests against police brutality and racial injustices.” It also took place right in front of the restaurant and on camera.
Meanwhile, WaPo’s Emily Heil reported Tuesday, “A Baltimore restaurant group [Atlas] that has previously been accused of creating dress codes targeting nonwhite customers has apologized after a black woman posted a video showing a white manager refusing to seat her and her son because he said the boy violated a ban on athletic wear. The footage of the incident at Ouzo Bay in Baltimore’s Harbor East… showed the boy’s mother pointing out a similarly dressed white boy whose family had been served.”
And in Portland, OR, Alex Frane reports on Eater that after restaurateur John Gorham thought he’d discovered who vandalized his catering vans, he went on a tear of angry, vigilante Facebook posts, eventually posting “photos of [the woman’s] vehicle with the license plate displayed, adding the caption, ‘maybe something should accidentally happen to it’ and misgendering her. In direct Facebook Messenger messages to her, the restaurateur threatened violence using a transphobic slur.”
The Departure – In DC, “Chef Kevin Tien has left Capitol Hill restaurant Emilie’s.” A bit of a strange one because, as Jessica Sidman writes in the Washingtonian,“This is the second time within a year that Tien has split with a restaurant he helped build. The chef earned a name and James Beard nod for himself at tiny Petworth hotspot Himitsu, but gave up his ownership stake last summer to focus on Emilie’s—a bigger and more ambitious project.” A lot of people are wondering if this isn’t a COVID split. Per Sidman, Tien wanted to wait for a vaccine to keep staff safe and preserve the feel of the space. “Now, however, the dining room and outdoor patio are slated to open within two weeks.”
The Procedure – If you’ve heard Dave Chang talk about restaurants during the pandemic at all, you will be familiar with his “How will chefs taste things while wearing masks???!!” refrain. Welp, here’s the answer for Momofuku, in the form of a two page “Tasting Procedure” paper (part of the larger Momofuku SOP package released a week or so ago). Good thing we got rid of plastic straws, because… “All food tasting vessels and utensils must be single-use/disposable,” and “A Taster must wear appropriate safety equipment while tasting (face shield, gloves, etc.) and immediately dispose of them after tasting.” Big savings on soap and water there!
The Money – Impressive that VCs keep placing big bets on restaurant tech to help save the day (read: make bank) in this big pandemic mess, especially as their customers (restaurants) are still so broke. Per I-Chun Chen in the NY Biz Journal: “SevenRooms has raised $50 million in financing that it will use to expand its platform…. The series B funding round was led by Providence Strategic Growth.”
The Media – Headline in Business Insider: “Condé Nast has suspended a Bon Appétit video editor amid an internal investigation.” Rachel Premack has the story, which so far points to this tweet from It’s Alive! editor Matt Hunziker (“Hunzi!”) as the reason for his suspension: “Why would we hire someone who’s not racist when we could simply [checks industry handbook] uhh hire a racist and provide them with anti-racism training...” In other words, he was critical of Condé Nast for its lackluster diversity work, and got suspended for it. So… Seems like corporate management is doing great over there. Cool cool cool.
What Guests are Reading – “A virus walks into a bar…” is not the setup to a hilarious joke (sad trombone), but the headline of this Tara Parker-Pope story in the NYT (ellipsis and all). “Everything you love about your neighborhood bar — the ambience, the crowds, the music, the free-flowing alcohol — makes it the ideal place to catch Covid-19.” The piece goes on to describe the problems behind all those elements (maybe best summed up as: intimacy) plus: “Studies also show that the particles we emit during talking and loud speech are potentially more infectious than the larger droplets we expel during a cough or a sneeze. Smaller particles persist in the air for longer time periods before settling, increasing the risk that someone nearby could inhale them. Smaller particles also can travel further into the respiratory tract.” Not great.
And in CA, “Citizens should report restaurants that fail to follow social distancing rules, California’s governor says.” Eater SF’s Eve Batey quotes Gavin Newsom as telling constituents,“Read up on these guidelines. When you go to a restaurant and it’s clear that they’re not practicing what we are preaching, report them. Give us the tools to enforce.”
P.S. – Weird to read media refer to people reporting restaurants breaking pandemic rules as “aspiring hall monitors” “diming out” offenders. Especially in outlets that literally call out bad actors all the time for all sorts of things…
And last but not least – FYI, the San Francisco auction for “#askchefsanything” is about to go live this morning. The fundraiser sells 30 minute video chats with participating food world folks, with proceeds going to immigrant restaurant workers in need (want more detail there, but seems legit). You can buy a chat with everyone from former SF Chronicle editor Paolo Lucchesi to Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando, and Alice Waters, Tanya Holland, Pim Techamuanvivit, Dominique Crenn, Kyle and Katina Connaughton (double feature!), and more. Full list here. If you’re in need of tough questions for your session, lmk. Always happy to make things awkward.
And that’s it for today.
I’ll see you here Tuesday for next Family Meal.
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