This post originally appeared on October 13, 2018, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.
Two big stories this week.
1. The Court of Master Sommeliers revoked the ‘master sommelier’ title from 23 of the 24 people who passed the exam this year, because they discovered one of the Court’s members leaked information about this year’s tasting portion (one of the three sections of the test and often called the hardest to pass). One person took the test earlier in the year and thus avoided the penalty.
For those unaware of the weird and wild world of master somm exams, well it’s fairly extreme. I have friends and acquaintances who have dedicated years of theirs lives and serious dollars working their way up to and then taking the exam. Anyone who’s seen the movie Somm understands the passion and insanity (and inanity) that goes into all of it. This is akin to being disqualified from the Olympics for someone else’s doping scandal.
19 of the 23 are trying to convince the Court to hold an investigation and change their decision, but I think our op-ed writer Cristie Norman is right to say the Court did the right thing. I also wonder if more MS titles are in jeopardy if this leaker has been intimately involved in the test in the past. I presume they won’t won’t to poke too hard at that.
2. Meanwhile, Charlie Hallowell is officially ready for his comeback. The Oakland chef and restaurateur who was accused of sexual harrassment by THIRTY employees, already hinted at his comeback in June, but now he’s released a 12-point plan on how he’d like to return to his businesses and open a brand new restaurant.
If you believe these kinds of figures are ever allowed back, not to mention just 10 months after exile, he does go a long way towards sounding repentant, enlightened. First he genuinely apologizes and owns his actions. He’s going to therapy, joined a self help group, hired third party HR, set up office hours, hired an all-female advisory board, handed over control of his salary to his female CEO, etc.
And then he mentions the dunk tank. He wants to have a monthly dunk tank where employees can attempt to dunk him. If it’s a joke, it’s an unfortunate venue for a joke. If he’s serious, what an inappropriately lighthearted way to invite employees to confront him about his actions.
Maybe it’s naive or extreme to wish he would just sell the whole company off and start fresh somewhere else, but turning a comeback into a carnival doesn’t seem like a step in the right direction.
Opening of the Week
There is a new restaurant in New York called Zauo where you fish for your dinner. It sounds like the dumbest thing in the world... until you start following the instagram stories of people who go. And then it looks... kind of fun? Like, I wouldn’t go on purpose but I wouldn’t be mad if I somehow ended up there by accident and netted a fish.
- Intel: My favorite London restaurant, Roti King, will open a second location; AmEx is trying to regain dominance in the credit-card-for-food-lovers war; Houston chef Chris Shepherd opened his much-anticipated Georgia James in the former Underbelly space; Hurricane Michael forced Waffle House to shutter 30 locations in Florida (all reopened now); owner Gene Hamer and chef Bill Smith are selling famed Chapel Hill restaurant Crook’s Corner and handing over the kitchen to chef Justin Burdett; you can now order Porto’s pastries online; female co-working space the Wing, and its restaurant, are now in SF; Loteria Grill at the Original Farmer’s Market in LA closed after 16 years; Montreal is considering restricting the use of wood-fired ovens and cooking with charcoal (on grills or otherwise) in restaurants; the menu was the only normal thing about Kanye’s lunch with President Donald Trump; fine dining chef Josiah Citrin opens his new restaurant at the Line Hotel in LA on Sunday; and chef Andrew Carmellini is calling his Shinola Hotel restaurant in Detroit San Morello and calling his beer hall the Brakeman.
- How the dosa became the food ambassador for South India in the U.S.
- What’s up with all these sexual Instagram posts by fast-casual restaurants?
- Restaurants are very thirsty for your personal data.
- The critics: Ryan Sutton finds the menu cards at high-end Korean tasting menu spot Atomix charming and Robert Sietsema awards four stars to the comforting couscous at Kish-Kash.
- Watch: inside a sea urchin processing facility.
- Robert Sietsema’s eulogy for Coffee Shop.
- This week I learned there’s a murder mystery series that centers on a ficticious bakery owner/detective.
- Buy: Everything you need for a hot pot night.
- And last but not least, we have a new editor of Eater DC.
On the Podcasts This Week
This week on The Upsell, Daniel and I talk with writer, cookbook author, and now star of new Netflix show Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat. We discuss her path to success, thoughts on Chef’s Table and diversity in food television, and how to get what you want by writing nice letters to people.
And on this week’s episode of our new business podcast, Start to Sale, hosts Erin and Natasha talk to the co-founders of Witchsy, a digital gallery and online marketplace.
- In which actor Daniel Radcliffe fact-checks a New Yorker restaurant review. [New Yorker]
- Starbucks now has a Taipei location made of 29 shipping containers and subsidized child care for its U.S. employees. [Curbed; Skift Table]
- A delightful read on the magic and mystery of Skittles. [The Ringer]
- Some thoughts from the front lines of being a pregnant restaurant worker. [F&W]
- Eight experts weigh in on the alleged death of processed American cheese. [Vox]
Take care, enjoy the weekend, and if you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend.