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The Depressing and Unsurprising Obstacle for Women in Wine

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

A sommelier mostly out of frame pours a glass of red wine for a customer olgakimphoto/Shutterstock

This post originally appeared on October 31, 2020 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.

Oftentimes, when we talk about why there aren’t more members of marginalized groups in positions of power, we point to a surfeit of societal factors. They are saddled with more domestic responsibilities due to gender norms or debt due to redlining and the theft of generational wealth. They are subject to unconscious (or explicit) bias. They don’t have access to the right circles to raise capital or have the right shorthand. There are myriad subtle and powerful ways a discriminatory society can grind away at gains toward equality.

What’s been so compelling about stories coming out of the #metoo movement and the ongoing reckoning over racism in our country and in the restaurant industry in particular is how they’ve shone a light on those generalized forces at play but also on absolutely bonkers undeniable abuse people confront on a regular basis.

This week’s example comes from Julia Moskin’s investigation into the highest echelons of the wine world, where women were subject to harassment, assault, bullying, and debasement to get coveted training and certification. This isn’t an issue of judges going easier on men than women because they identify with or like them. It’s an issue of retaliating against women who wouldn’t sleep with them.

Last week’s example was Chris Crowley’s look at the culture at Mission Chinese, where a Black dishwasher was burned with hot oil and regularly called ‘boy.’

It’s beyond cliche but I can’t help but think of that famous Sarah Moore Grimké quote (often attributed to the late, great RBG): “I ask no favors for my sex ... All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks.” I know of so many panels and think pieces about why there weren’t more female Master Sommeliers and the answer was blindingly clear and depressingly obvious.


Three toasts sit on white plates; the one to the far left has nut butter, the one to the right has red jam and ricotta; and the one in the back has a mix of different jams with ricotta.
Familiar toasts at Sabine in Seattle
Sabine [Official Photo]

— This week, Chicago and its surrounding suburbs paused indoor dining (much to the chagrin of the city’s mayor); Newark added an 8 p.m. curfew to indoor dining, San Francisco paused plans to raise capacity limits, and Michigan is demanding restaurant and bars collect information from customers for contact tracing. And in Europe, France, Germany, Belgium, and others limited bar and restaurant operations.

— Chef and restaurateur Andy Ricker officially pulled the plug on his Pok Pok restaurant group, partially because of the pandemic and partially because he didn’t like how hard it had gotten over the last half decade, saying his work was “more and more about logistics and putting out fires, less and less about hospitality and and vision.”

— Openings: Maison Nico, an epicerie with gorgeous pastries and terrines, in San Francisco; Locust, a surprisingly named dumpling and kakigori destination from big name local chef Trevor Moran, in Nashville; Hiyakawa, a stylish omakase spot from a Morimoto alum, in Miami; Kol, an eagerly anticipated debut from Noma Mexico’s Santiago Lastra, in London; and El Oso, a Mexican pop-up looking for a permanent spot, in Chicago.

— Also opening is Sabine, which looks like a good option for Seattleites who want to try the famous ricotta and jam brioche toast, rugbrod toast, crispy rice salad, and sorrel pesto rice bowl of LA’s Sqirl without getting on a plane.

— Minneapolis’ alt-weekly paper City Pages, home to a variety of talented food writers and critics over the years, ceased publication after 41 years in business.

— How a potential banning of WeChat in the U.S. could impact immigrant-run businesses in New York that rely on the platform as a ”fan-filled Facebook page, a commission-free Seamless, a long-distance Groupon, and a three-person Zendesk rolled into one.”

Features and More

A worker in a black mask passes a takeout order through a window to a customer wearing a blue surgical mask
Thai Diner in New York
Gary He/Eater

— The surprisingly compelling history (and extinction in some regions and democratization in others) of finger bowls.

— What the closing of Dialogue and other high-end spots means for the future of fine dining in Los Angeles.

— How to make your home as cool-looking as Portland’s Gado Gado.

— Review: I loved New York’s Thai Diner when it opened, and I love its current iteration. Ryan Sutton perfectly captures how it’s adapted to this moment.

— A sweet and sad essay about how foraging for food during the pandemic reminds one home cook of foraging for food as a homeless teen.

— Meghan McCarron embeds with the wonderful charity No Us Without You, which feeds 1,300 undocumented restaurant workers and their families around LA.

— Let’s all be a little less snobby about frozen food. It’s fine.

— The baker who is making a pie for each American state, a project that is way more complicated than you might imagine.

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