This post originally appeared on January 27, 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.
Last week, we published our first-ever short documentary on Eater. Called Boystown, it explores the changing face of one of America’s oldest gayborhoods through its evolving (and, in many cases, shrinking) hospitality industry. And on Tuesday, the doc’s host Zach Stafford came on the Eater Upsell podcast to expand on his reporting.
Stafford explained that a confluence of factors contribute to the rapid disappearance of gay bars and queer spaces across America. Many blame dating apps, as digital access to potential partners eliminates the need for IRL flirting. Meanwhile, the gentrification that often follows gay communities, as well as a pressure for gay bars to cater to straight audiences, have affected which kinds of spaces are allowed to thrive.
Part of the change is positive, in that gay lifestyle and culture is so readily accepted now, so part of the mainstream, that the gay community doesn’t need carved-out spaces in order to feel safe, meet one another, or be themselves. And there’s something to be said for the fact that straight bar and restaurant goers are so attracted by aspects of the gay lifestyle that drag clubs have become destinations.
But as Stafford told us — and Eater’s Meghan McCarron echoed in a later interview in the podcast episode — something gets lost when these spaces disappear and evolve. Historically, queer spaces have been about so much more than just a safe place to meet a partner. They’ve been places of community, resistance, political organization, sanctuary. And those are necessary, will continue to be necessary, and should be protected.
Opening of the week: Majordomo
Who’s behind it?: Celeb chef Dave Chang.
What is it?: Chang’s first LA restaurant. The menu encompasses Korean flavors with California influences, and a hodgepodge of dishes, from lo mein with tapioca to soft fresh tofu to cured kanpachi and fried onion rings. Chang omitted the famous pork buns this time around, but Momofuku fans will recognize the Benton’s ham, the rice cakes, the spicy take on the bo ssam large-format meal, and a dish of “macaroni and chickpea,” reminiscent of the highly Instagrammable cacio e pepe from Chang’s Nishi.
Where is it?: Chinatown, Los Angeles
When did it open?: January 23.
Why should I care?: As Chang tackles his fourth major American city, it’s compelling to watch how he tweaks his concept, what dishes he is testing out, how he adapts for the local culture, and how the locals — who arguably have more exciting options than brethren in D.C. and even Vegas — will respond to the opening.
- Intel: City Bakery opened an outpost in Detroit; major Houston chefs Jennifer and Bryan Caswell lost their contract at the just-opened Oxbow 7; Jamie Oliver closed 12 restaurants in London; a former server at Le Bernardin sued the restaurant for ignoring sexual harassment complaints; Wagyumafia’s much-anticipated SF outpost is not happening; a SoCal assemblyman wants restaurants to stop serving plastic straws unless requested; Starbucks employees are getting raises and better paid leave policies; Reba McEntire is KFC’s new Colonel Sanders; the edible glitter trend has reached Shake Shack; and managers at In-N-Out Burger make $160k/year.
- Robert Sietsema on Taco Bell’s new nacho fries.
- What it’s like to dine at Salt Bae’s NYC restaurant.
- The joy of Black brunch.
- An Eater’s guide to San Francisco.
- Bad men should divest from their businesses already.
- A visit to Amazon’s fully automated, cashier-free shop.
- Video review: Tasty’s One Top induction cooktop.
- I love this tiny bar in the middle of a frozen lake serving live minnow shots. [Great Big Story]
- LOL at these Instapot cookbook covers. [Bored Panda]
- British writer George Reynolds on why we don’t need any more adoring profiles of chef bros like this Esquire piece on Francis Mallman. [Ego Scriptor; Esquire]
- How to help food media. [New Worlder]
- The link between architecture and pastry chefs. [NYT]
- Venessa Wong on frugality and shame. [BuzzFeed]
- Charlie and the Tide Pod Factory. [McSweeney’s]
- Building a queer restaurant space in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. [Jarry]
- Joshua David Stein’s take on Salt Bae. [GQ]
- Hugh Merwin’s obit for Paul Bocuse. [Grub Street]
- Philadelphia restaurant critic Craig LaBan believes it’s not his job to pass judgment on a chef’s character; many women in media disagree. For the record, so do I. [Philly.com; Twitter]
- Restaurants: You should pay photographers for their photos. [@garyhe]
- Jealous of this. [@metmuseum]
- I’m obsessed with these unretouched McDonald’s press photos, [BI]
- Profile: on how Francis Lam rose to his position of influence and why he doesn’t “yuck on anybody’s yum.” [WaPo]
- The new Ace Hotel spinoff has an amazing description.