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America’s Most Progressive Chain and a Tone-Deaf Award

Surprises from Starbucks, Best Female Chef, and other intel in this weekly roundup from the editor

maternity leave
Maternity leave
Lindsay Mound

This post originally appeared in EIC Amanda Kludt’s From the Editor newsletter, a weekly recap of the most important intel in food and dining each week. Subscribe now.

I have two stories, both somewhat related to (sorry/not sorry) women's issues, that I'll highlight briefly. First, the good news: Over the past two weeks, Starbucks made headlines for a) adding new members to its board — a move that will make it one of the most diverse (in terms of gender, age, and race) corporate boards in the nation, and b) announcing one of the most generous parental leave policies in the entire service industry, especially for part-time workers. If you think Danny Meyer is generous with his four weeks of fully-paid leave and four weeks of partially-paid leave for full-timers, consider: Starbucks will now pay all birth mothers who work over 20 hours a week 100 percent of their salary for six weeks, and will give management 18 weeks fully paid. This is a coffee chain, sure, but to me, a lack of paid family leave is a major factor in the underrepresentation of women in the upper ranks of the restaurant world. So any step forward is a welcome one.

The bad news: High-end restaurant ranker the World’s 50 Best still has an award for the Best Female Chef in the World. I won’t belabor the point as to why it’s insulting (read here if you’re curious). Just know that it’s insulting. And the founder calling the award “affirmative action” to defend its existence just highlights the fact that he doesn’t know what that phrase means.

one fifth
One Fifth’s dining room
Julie Soefer Photography

Opening of the Week: One Fifth

Who is behind it? Chef Chris Shepherd, known for his much acclaimed Houston restaurant Underbelly.

What is it? A shapeshifter. Shepherd signed a five-year lease for the space and plans on opening a new concept there each year. First up: One Fifth Steak, a steakhouse focused on sustainable meat sourcing. For 2018: One Fifth Romance Languages (Spanish, Italian, and French...fusion?).

Where is it? Houston’s Montrose neighborhood.

When did it open? Thursday, January 26.

Why should I care? If you’ve been to Underbelly, you know Shepherd has talent and can execute on a forward-thinking vision. It should be compelling to watch the restaurant transform over the years à la Next in Chicago and potentially serve as a testing ground for concepts Shepherd wants to spin off into permanent projects.

Avo John Kambourian

Must Reads on Eater

What to Read Off Eater

  • “No matter what ‘family meal’ you are putting together — the one with your actual spouse and children in a warm yellow kitchen with wood and stone and Le Creuset all around, or the one with your vitamin-D-deficient kitchen kin, left out all afternoon in buckled stainless steel pans under the fluorescents — it is every single thing you want and need it to be.” — the obnoxiously talented Gabrielle Hamilton in her latest NYT Mag column on chicken and rice. [NYT]
  • A look at the complex world of pay-what-you-can restaurants. No two are alike, they are incredibly hard to run, and the odds are stacked against them. [WaPo]
  • “Pu-erh is the Helen of Troy of tea that gets aged like whiskey, dosed like drugs, and coveted by millionaires. And it only comes from this one mountainous corner of China.” — Saveur’s Max Falkowitz goes deep on an internationally obsessed-over tea. [Saveur]
  • You already know this, but still always interesting to read about how modern cuisines have been shaped by wars of the past. [Smithsonian]
  • Besha Rodell is here with your weekly reminder that the economics of the restaurant industry just don’t work, and wonders if the service charges that are becoming increasingly commonplace in LA and elsewhere could help the industry — or are a new version of wage theft. [LA Weekly]
  • Before the American takeover, Hawaii was completely self sufficient. Now it imports 90 percent of its food and exports 80 percent of its agriculture. There’s a new grassroots movement set on reversing that trend and bringing food security back to the islands. [Good]

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