This post originally appeared on April 7, 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.
First, to close the loop on our conversations from the last couple of weeks: cookbook author Julia Turshen built a database of women, people of color, queer, and non-gender conforming individuals working in food so that the gatekeepers (editors, producers, conference organizers) no longer have a reason to only feature white men in their projects. Meanwhile, marginalized voices have new resources and a potential for community building. Bravo to her.
Now on to the gossip. The question mark of this week for any longtime watcher of New York restaurants is the one hovering over the Keith McNally empire.
The restaurateur behind icons Balthazar and Minetta Tavern and mainstays Morandi and Lucky Strike weathered an unusually eventful last two years. He opened Augustine in downtown Manhattan at the end of 2016 and celebrated Balth’s 20th anniversary last summer, but then closed staple Schiller’s last August and announced the June closing of Cherche Midi late last month. Earlier this week, one source told Eater that he wasn’t even involved in the reopening of the long-planned Pastis (his team says that’s B.S.), and now we learn McNally brought in rival restaurateur Stephen Starr to team up on the project.
A positive spin: He’s making smart real-estate choices, cutting his losses where he should, keeping the places that are thriving, and forming a supergroup with a savvy and successful operator to bring back a complex project.
A less positive spin: McNally had a massive stroke last year and doesn’t have the energy to turn Cherche Midi around or to relaunch his long-delayed Pastis reboot without a powerful on-the-ground operator (even if it is a guy who opened a Balth look alike in D.C.) running the day to day.
Usually, the reality is somewhere between those two views, but I’d be interested to see if he can maintain the magic across his empire as he recovers his health. Also curious to observe Starr’s stewardship of the McNally brand.
Opening of the week: Loro
Who’s behind it?: Famed pitmaster Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole, the award-winning chef behind Uchi.
What is it?: An Asian smokehouse meant to look and feel like a Texas dance hall.
Where is it?: Austin.
When did it open?: Wednesday, April 4.
Why should I care?: With this pedigree, it would be hard not to put this at the top of any Austin dining agenda. Also: check out how gorgeous and massive that space is. Also: gin-and-tonic slushies.
- Intel: The Washington Nationals tapped Carla Hall and Jamie Leeds to replace Mike Isabella’s sandwich shop; meanwhile, reports allege Isabella’s restaurants used NDAs to silence potential accusers; Marc Jacobs got engaged at Chipotle; Enrique Olvera’s new LA restaurant will be a Pujol-Cosme hybrid; one of London’s coolest restaurants P. Franco will open an offshoot next month; SF’s Traci Des Jardins has a new weekdays-only bar; clubstaurant Catch will replace BarMasa and Tetsuin Vegas; ummmmm Wolfgang Puck and Frank Gehry are taking over LA’s most famous beach restaurant; Danny Meyer is opening a taco stand in Williamsburg; Balthazar alums Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson opened Frenchette in NY; SF’s Asian Art Museum has a cool new cafe; and Houston’s Chris Shepherd recruited major chef talent for his new restaurant UB Preserv
- Reviews: Her Name Is Han, NY; Brenner Pass, Richmond, VA
- For all my friends and family back in Massachusetts, this one’s for you
- Next time we go to LA, we’re all going to Fatima’s Grill
- A look at the nonprofit empowering low-income women of color to build food businesses
- Check out the new star of our kitchen gadget show, Esther Choi
- How to make the cookbook world less white
Last week on the Upsell
Dan and I talk the best food stories of March, including the demise of Tasty Made, a chef who butchered a deer leg in front of vegan protesters, OpenTable’s rogue employee, and Whole Foods’ endangered foragers. Give it a listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.
- Here’s an intriguing one: The editors of the food section of the SF Chronicle and its critic aren’t in agreement over whether or not bad actors in restaurants should get coverage, and are airing their stances publicly [SF Chronicle]
- Meanwhile, to the dismay of some, the Times checked in on Mario Batali. Good news is he’s officially divesting from his restaurant group [NYT]
- How Grubhub analyzed 4,000 dishes to predict your next order [Wired]
- Sean Brock’s self care involves acupuncture, reiki, intuitive energy work therapy, neurostructural integration technique, EMDR and somatic experiencing, and cranial-electro stimulation [BonApp]
- My Life in Three Cakes [New Yorker]
- One chef’s color-coded system to weed out sexual harassment from her customers in her restaurant [Washington Post]
- I dare you to not like the Times Style section under Choire [NYT]
I’m thankful to @potus @realdonaldtrump for offering me the position of Secretary of Tourism Travel and Food, but unfortunately I must say no, for basic disagreements on everything...specially on issues related to food, travel and tourism....— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) April 1, 2018