This post originally appeared on May 12, 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.
I have two main stories to talk about, both equal in importance to me (no offense to either story). But before we jump in, please check out our beautiful, servicey, insightful, and inspiring Eater Guide to Rome, perfect for armchair and actual travelers alike.
Okay, first story: the James Beard Restaurant Awards happened. (I’ve already shared my thoughts on awards, so I won’t go too much into that here.) For these particular awards, a committee of gatekeepers selects the semi-finalists via sourcing advice from voters and the public, huddles up locally, and then argues over them in person at an offsite. Then hundreds of eligible voters narrow the committee’s selections down to semi-finalists and then winners.
It’s an interesting hybrid system, my only complaint being that, as a voter, one can vote in any category whether you are expert in the area or not, leading to more wins for places that have the benefit of PR or tourism boards. (For example, I can vote in the Pacific Northwest category if I want, even if I’ve only been to Portland because of a recurring food festival there; and I can vote in the best restaurateur category even if I’ve never been to the restaurants of, say, Martha Hoover in Indianapolis.)
Anyway, I think the committee did a nice job presenting the voters with some solid candidates this year, and it led to a diverse and representative group of winners. For true insight and analysis, I’ll direct you to the wonderful Korsha Wilson and Hillary Dixler Canavan.
Second: The New York story about local salad chain Just Salad halting their bespoke chopping (via the New York Post) is such a great local news piece, because every office drone from the Battery to Central Park knows this lunch and has strong feelings about whether a) having a person chop your salad ingredients and mix them in front of you so everything is perfectly distributed and dressed and exactly the same size is one of life’s great pleasures, or b) these salad people are losing their minds over nothing and people should just learn to chew. I also just love that one of the selling points from the Just Salad CEO is the elimination of the “crazy acoustics of chopping.”
Openings to add to your dining agenda
What the hell, why aren’t you at the insane-looking Broken Shaker rooftop bar in New York this very second?
Chef Chris Shepherd’s evolution of Underbelly, called UB Preserv, serving queso fundido, noodle cakes with crawfish tails, mega seafood towers, and more in Houston.
The giant all-day cafe, bakery, and market from the crew behind Austin’s acclaimed Odd Duck.
Barbecue deity Adam Perry Lang’s Hollywood house of meat.
And Bright, the place where all the London cool kids will flock to over the next year.
- Intel: DC empire builder Mike Isabella settled his sexual harassment lawsuit and is probably safe from being ousted, given the structure of his company (that said, one investor is suing); Taco Bell is expanding in London for the first time in 30 years; longtime Brooklyn favorite Brooklyn Star is closing; SF’s Mister Jiu’s will open a super fun times party lounge with dim sum above the restaurant; Miami got its first-ever Waffle House; Google debuted a human-sounding reservation-making assistant; Dallas star Matt McCallister announced the closure of his hit restaurant FT33 in a kind of emotional Facebook post; José Andrés said that running for Congress is a possibility; the maker of the best-ever mass-produced cookie Oreo just bought the beloved cookie brand Tate’s; the acting president of the Charleston Restaurant Association was arrested for assault and battery just a few years after he was cleared on rape charges; Gunshow chef Kevin Gillespie was diagnosed with renal cancer; and West Hollywood has a gorgeous new French place.
- Review: Nyum Bai in Oakland.
- Op-ed: Restaurants should not be allowed to add surcharges to checks.
- Eater eds think restaurant drama Sweetbitter “exceeds expectations.”
- Actually, desserts are better than ever now in NYC.
- Please listen to comedian Tim Heidecker’s takedown of Jonathan Cheban’s stupid gold chicken wings:
On the Upsell
Dan and I chat with legendary cookbook author, TV star, and former op-ed columnist and restaurant reviewer Nigella Lawson about how she’s driven by fear, how she controls everything on her show, how she writes recipes, and why home chefs have an edge on restaurant chefs. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.
- I like that someone is talking about the Instagram-ification of food (in this case, dim sum) without cynicism or eye-rolling. [SF Chronicle]
- What it’s like to be queer, trans, Black, and a line cook. [Bon Appetit]
- Here’s what I learned about Rachael Ray from this week’s profile: She’s still doing great! Maybe she’s fighting for relevance in a changing world, but she keeps making piles of money, she still has a TV show, her magazine has a circulation of 1.7 million subs (a little more than Bon App, a little less than Cooking Light), she keeps getting book deals, she’s launching furniture and bag lines, and she’s super considerate and hard working and likes Charles Bukowski enough to frame one of his poems. Another thing I learned: the age of every woman interviewed for the piece. [NYT]
- RBG does more sit-ups and one-legged planks than you do every day. [NYT]
- YouTube entity Tastemade now has brick-and-mortar restaurants. [Digiday]
- A barbecue restaurant in Mexico City that’s big with American expats is providing restaurant jobs to recently deported Mexicans who haven’t been to their native country in decades. [LA Times]
- A beautiful Majordomo review from Hannah Goldfield. [The New Yorker]
- The NYP is killing it this week with great human-interest stories. [NYPost]
- Where are all the Black restaurant critics? [Grub Street]
- Why is Anna Wintour throwing more support to Harvey Weinstein’s ex-wife than to his victims? [The Cut]
- Shots fired. [@anthony_w_mangieri/Instagram]
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