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Celebrity Chef Cookbook Benefits Syrian Refugees; Russia Cracks Down on Illegally Imported Cheese

Plus, Baltimore makes its restaurant health code violations more transparent.


— In an effort to help Syrian refugees, author Barbara Abdeni Massed and publisher Michel Moushabeck are putting together a book called Soup for Syria. The cookbook features over 80 soup recipes from well known chefs and cookbook writers like Yotam Ottolenghi, Alice Waters, Claudia Roden, and Anthony Bourdain. The idea for the book came from Massaad's weekly trips to a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon where she would bring ingredients to make soup for the refugees. Sales from the book, which will be released October 1, go towards feeding the refugees.

— Fast food restaurants want to offer more healthy options, but being able to secure enough fresh produce is often quite challenging. Dave Kourie, the head of procurement for Wendy's, says that it took the chain nearly three years to find enough blackberries for a salad it plans to offer next summer. The chain needed to be able to purchase nearly two million pounds of blackberries to top the seasonal salad. Even Chipotle, which has about 4,600 fewer locations than Wendy's, has had issues with finding enough supplies. Earlier this year, the chain was forced to pull its carnitas from the menu after discovering that the supplier didn't meet the chain's ethical standards. It took Chipotle months to find another supplier that could produce enough pork for its restaurants.

— Russia continues to wage its war against food imports from the West, especially cheese. Last year, the government banned dairy products from a number of nations including countries from the European Union and the U.S. over economic sanctions imposed by the West over Russia's military action in Ukraine. However, Russians have a penchant for the imported stuff which has "created an opening for [cheese] forgers and smugglers." Russian police recently busted a "cheese ring" which smuggled nearly $30 million worth of the dairy product, or about 500 tons, into the country. The cheese ring has apparently been selling its illegal wares since March.

— Chef Jason Atherton is pushing back the opening of his newest London restaurant Sosharu to focus on expanding to Dubai and Sydney. Atherton, who owns Pollen Street Social, is on a bit of an expansion tear. He recently opened The Clocktower in New York City and is opening Marina Social in Dubai next month. After that, Atherton will head to Sydney, where he plans to open Kensington Street Social in November. Atherton tells Bloomberg he likes to get openings "right" and to do so he has to be "physically working in my restaurants." Sosharu, the chef's Japanese spot, will now open February 17.

— The City of Baltimore is making its restaurant health code violations more transparent. If a restaurant is shut down by the Health Department, customers will now know exactly why. Under the new law, details about why a business was shuttered — from too many rats to not having hot water — will be posted on the Health Department's website and social media accounts. Los Angeles County is also making some changes to its restaurant health code grading system. Proposed changes include online disclosure of restaurants that are linked to foodborne illnesses and not allowing restaurants to receive an "A" grade if they "receive two major violations during an inspection."