Burning Question: Why Aren’t More Restaurant Critics Women?

"It might be time for us to get bigger hats."Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/Corbis

In the past few weeks, there's been talk about a possible divide in the food-writing world: The roles of food writers and editors seem split fairly evenly among men and women, but the same cannot be said for the role of the restaurant critic, where the divide currently favors more men. In fact, LA Weekly critic Besha Rodell recently posed the exact question: "Why is there such a small percentage of female critics, especially in high-prestige positions?" In an effort to start answering that question, Grub Street got on the phone with female food critics around the country and asked them about the critical gender divide, potential hiring obstacles, motherhood, sexist reactions to reviews, and lots more. Read on to see what everyone has to say.

"Critic hours are the same as chef hours. They're mom hours." »

Mission Chinese Food Pops Up Again

Perhaps because you cannot serve a dish of Benton's country ham and rice cakes for one night only and call it at that, Danny Bowien has just tweeted that his Mission Chinese Food pop-up will return to Carroll Gardens tonight, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Frankies 457 Spuntino. If you missed out last night, your overall chances of getting some kung pao pastrami have just greatly improved. [James Daniel Bowien/Twitter, Related]

The MPAA Almost Banned This Poster for Food Documentary Fed Up

Take the blue one, or the red one. Doesn't really matter.Photo: Courtesy of Fed Up.

The often-controversial trade association tasked with deciding what you will and will not see onscreen was bothered by the "offensive language" implied in key art for the upcoming food documentary Fed Up, but now it seems like things have cooled off. Specifically, the MPAA didn't like the letters F and U stamped on these juxtaposed red and blue M&Ms, which seemed a little too much like a directive. The Laurie David–produced and Katie Couric–narrated documentary is all about how food manufacturers — "aided by the U.S. government" — allegedly worked for decades to profit at the expense of everyone's health.

"If Congress and the FDA cared as much about protecting Americans ..." »

Thomas Waugh on Dirty French, Short Shorts, and Bars That Prevent You From Getting Laid

Waugh.Photo: Bobby Doherty

Earlier today, we dissected the Cilantro, the latest cocktail to come out of ZZ’s Clam Bar. It’s the handiwork of Thomas Waugh, drinks czar of Major Food Group, the parent company of ZZ’s, Torrisi Italian Specialties, Carbone, and Parm. Waugh did time at the Alembic Bar and Enrico’s Sidewalk Café in San Francisco before he moved to New York and made a name for himself at Death & Co. and Clover Club. Perhaps you’ve noticed him behind the bar at ZZ’s? He’s the one wearing a white double-breasted military-marching-band jacket, gold bow tie, short shorts, and a terrific burst of whiskers. But we were talking about his new drink, which features chile-infused tequila and is served in an actual chile pepper. Waugh, you see, believes that while anyone can pour a cocktail into a plain old cocktail glass, it takes vision and gumption, not to mention a highly developed sense of whimsy, to serve a drink in a ceramic Buddha, coconut shell, brass pineapple, or poblano pepper, as is the custom at ZZ’s. Here, he weighs in on the local cocktail scene and shares a few details about drinks currently in development.

"...they were all laughing at me and making fun of me..." »

The Dish: ZZ’s Clam Bar’s Cilantro Cocktail

The latest from Thomas Waugh.

What you see pictured before you is not a photo editor’s conceptual representation of a spicy drink, but a cocktail as it’s actually served at ZZ’s Clam Bar in the Village. The drink in question is the latest from Thomas Waugh, beverage director of Major Food Group, the company behind Torrisi Italian Specialties, Carbone, and ZZ’s. Inside the poblano pepper is a mound of crushed ice and a mixture of muddled cucumber, grenadine, and jalapeño-infused tequila with a couple drops of a super-­concentrated essence of cilantro “made by a French guy who grows his own organic herbs,” says Waugh. In concept, sipping tequila from a chile pepper is not unlike eating butternut-squash soup from a tiny, hollowed-out pumpkin or drinking a piña colada from a pineapple, but within the surrealistic den of snuggery that is ZZ’s, the act is a lot more fun than that, not to mention unpredictable: “When you pour the drink into the poblano,” says Waugh, “it gets a little bit spicier as you go along, depending on the pepper.”

"I knew I wanted to try to put a drink in a poblano pepper." »

City Grit’s Sarah Simmons Opening Restaurant Serving Fried Chicken and Champagne

Simmons

The talented Sarah Simmons, whose City Grit not only functions as a venue for pop-up meals, but also as a restaurant incubator and a space for chefs to meet their peers who normally toil behind the line in kitchens throughout the country, is opening a standalone restaurant. Bird & Bubbles will open in a space near City Grit and will, as its name suggests, serve fried chicken and bubbly, and they'll also serve "elevated Southern dishes" and a lots more to drink. Eater notes that Simmons and her crew are serving a menu preview at a Sunday Supper event on April 27. [Eater NY, Related]

Sriracha Creator Is Very Serious About Moving His Factory

Why did the rooster cross the road?Photo: Amazon

From that giant "No tear gas made here" factory banner to statements like "I have had the bad luck to move into a city with a government that acts like a local king," it's clear to everyone that Sriracha owner David Tran is tired of — by way of his sauce, at least — being called a public nuisance. So clear, in fact, that offers coming in from around the country from would-be hot-sauce welcoming committees are just getting more and more comical.

Read more »

Guy Fieri Wasn’t That Impressed With the Food at Guy’s American Kitchen Either, Apparently

Stand and taquito, my man. Stand and taquito.Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Guy Fieri's got himself a brand-new restaurant in Las Vegas, where the General Tso's chicken arrives in lollipop form, fried onion rings are served threaded on lead pipe, and there's a separate bar that serves 20 kinds of chilled shots, no ice. Though Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar, which opens today, marks the beginning of a new chapter for the celebrity chef, the spike-headed Fieri is still seeming a little bristled by Pete Wells's brutal 2012 takedown of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar, his Times Square opus. The interesting thing now, however, is that as he maintains there was "nothing realistic about what was being said" in the paper's review, Fieri seems to have moved on and thrown that restaurant's cooks under the dragon-chili-cheese-fry-themed bus in the process.

"Also, remember it’s a licensing deal ... " »

Zachary Feldman Takes Over Long-Vacant Village Voice Restaurant-Critic Role

Almost one year after the alt-weekly fired veteran food writer Robert Sietsema and co-critic Tejal Rao resigned, the Village Voice has named Zachary Feldman as its new food critic. (Rao is now writing about restaurants at Tasting Table, while Sietsema is reviewing for Eater NY.) While the paper has been running informal reviews — some written by Feldman — since last spring, it has not had a designated critic. "People want the Village Voice to succeed," says editor Tom Finkel on the shift. [Capital NY, Related]

Dallas BBQ Workers Sue Over Alleged Locker-Room Surveillance

Embroiled.

The Post says workers at the Downtown Brooklyn branch of Dallas BBQ have filed a lawsuit against the chain restaurant's owners, alleging that managers watched employees change in and out of work uniforms on closed-circuit cameras installed in locker rooms. Plaintiffs in the class-action papers say they were told the surveillance was part of a "loss prevention" scheme — in other words, the higher-ups wanted to make sure no one was absconding with brisket. Less pervy claims include employee tip-skimming and uncompensated overtime, something Dallas BBQ has been sued for in the past. [NYP, Related]

04/16/14

Emily Launches Lunch; Easter Brunch at M. Wells Steakhouse

• To celebrate Easter, M.Wells Steakhouse is offering a traditional brunch on April 20, with reservations available online. The spring kitchen will provide take-home options that include rabbit royale and maple pie. [Grub Street]

Emily launched lunch service today, which means a slew of new menu items. [Grub Street]

Il Buco Alimentari has launched a Greenmarket prix fixe lunch menu that will change daily. For $35, you can eat green asparagus with fried egg, housemade pappardelle, and gelato. [Grub Street]

Read more »

Washington, D.C., Restaurant Says ‘at Least Half’ of Its Customers Use Phones at the Table

"The gentleman, throughout the entire meal did not acknowledge me," says a server at the Red Hen in Bloomingdale, of a customer who wouldn't look up from his screen. "And I'm like, I'm here for you, I want to talk to you, I want to engage. But you won't even look up at me. What are you doing? Why are you here?" Remember back in 2010, when our biggest concern was diners who stored their mobile phones on the table itself because it took away space for the servers to set down food? Things seem to have gotten worse. [All Tech Considered/NPR]

Watch a Ridiculous Commercial for Mister Donut’s Cronut Knockoffs

As "Crumbnuts" prepare to invade BJ's Wholesale Club shelves in the U.S., Osaka-based chain Mister Donut, which has more than 1,250 stores throughout Japan, has apparently finally figured out how to mass-produce their own version of Dominique Ansel's Cronut. Eataku notes that three flavors — including maple and "angel" whipped cream — are being sold through June 1, a longer offer period than the one Dunkin' Donuts Korea gave to its limited-edition "New York Pie Doughnuts" last year. This seems to be something of a sign that large chains will soon make fake Cronuts a permanent menu item.

"The newest craze from New York!" »

New York Now Has Glow-Stick Club Parties for 12-Year-Olds

But they're playing his favorite song.

It's the next logical step after baby DJ school, which actually happened in Brooklyn: CNNMoney reports that an enterprising outfit called Fuzipop is trying hard to make daytime dance parties for the under-12 set happen at exclusive New York nightclubs. Fake tattoos, "What Does the Fox Say" glow-stick raves, VIP tables with Champagne glasses and juice boxes, 9-year-old DJ Kai — surely this is actually just the first sign of the grand return of Bill Hader's Stefon?

Juice boxes! »

Boston’s O Ya Team Opening Roof at Park South

The rumor floated by Eater yesterday suggesting Boston restaurateurs Tim and Nancy Cushman are headed to New York for their next project is at least partly true: Food & Wine finds out the O Ya owners, along with barman Ted Kilpatrick, will indeed open a rooftop bar and restaurant atop Gramercy's Park South Hotel. The venue, called the Roof at Park South, will serve cocktails and "Mediterranean-inspired bar bites," such as crudos and grilled skewers, amidst of setting of palm trees and fireplaces. The Cushmans have not yet confirmed or denied they are also planning to open a branch of their acclaimed Japanese restaurant in the same hotel. [F&W, Related]

No Más: What It’s (Probably) Like Inside Taco Bell HQ Right Now

Is there trouble in Taco town?Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Time was, Taco Bell introduced a new product and the world went crazy. Then Taco Bell would go on to sell hundreds of millions of units. But this week, some other chains have stolen the Bell's social-media thunder (such as Domino's and its questionable new chicken hunk "pizza" and the return of the KFC Double Down). How could this happen? And what's Taco Bell going to do about it? Here now is a look at what is most likely happening inside the chain's Irvine, California, headquarters right this second.

Read more »

Watch a Trailer for the Upcoming Malört Documentary

Drinking Jeppson's Malört is one of those Chicago "things," a perverse tavern rite of passage compared — favorably — to "swallowing a burnt condom full of gas." This Story Will Never End, a new documentary by Fire Engine Red Films, a Windy City studio specializing in Chicagoana, explores the city and horrendous wormwood liquor's 80-plus years together. At the very least, it'll likely be more fact-based than last year's short film positing that a subterranean, trash-filled kingdom was secretly responsible for the liquor.

"There's so much more to it than just a bitter shot." »

Seamless Will Make It Harder for Restaurants to Steal Delivery Workers’ Tips

Good news for the city's hardworking deliverypeople: While it took some arm-twisting by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, Seamless has agreed to exclude tips from the bill total when figuring its commission, which typically averages 10 to 15 percent. Up until now, the GrubHub-Seamless share has come off every cent on the check — food, sales tax, any fees, tips — which Schneiderman said is a billing formula that encourages restaurants to "cheat workers out of their hard-earned tips," similar to the tip-skimming controversy that made headlines last year at the Upper West Side's Indus Valley.

Read more »

What to Eat at Tavern on the Green, Finally Opening Next Week

Faroe Island salmon with sautéed greens, cumin-roasted carrot puree, and horseradish crème fraiche.Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev

Last week, chef Katy Sparks told Grub that she wanted to serve "accessible food — the kind you want to eat regularly" at the reboot of Tavern on the Green, which opens to the public on April 24. The menu relies heavily on high-quality ingredients sourced from local purveyors, like La Quercia speck and Finnish Ruis bread. Take a look at a few of the dishes, straight ahead.

Ice-box cake. »

Mission Chinese Food Pops Up Tonight in Brooklyn at Frankies 457

The salt-cod fried rice is back, for a night.Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev

Danny Bowien's world has recently seeming been all about Mission Cantinadouble-decker tacos and all — but now some great news has arrived that the chef's shuttered Mission Chinese Food will return from 5-11 p.m. tonight, for one night only at Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli's Frankies 457. The menu includes the restaurant's salt-cod fried rice, kung pao pastrami, and mapo tofu, and more, such as Benton's bacon-and-rice cakes. It's most likely going to be a mob scene, but those missing the old Mission Chinese should give it a try: In other news, Bowien has now confirmed his former LES restaurant, which closed at 154 Orchard Street last fall after nearby construction sent mice teeming into the restaurant's basement, will not reopen in the same address. [James Daniel Bowien/Twitter, Related]

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