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Starbucks to Cut Prices, Increase Odors

Look for price drops and better smells at Starbucks after today's annual meeting. The stuttering chain is losing sales to McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts, and former CEO Howard Schultz has returned to lead Starbucks to ubiquitous glory once again.

Inside Sasha Petraske's Mercury Dime

A couple of weeks ago the magazine offered a peek into the Mercury Dime, Sasha Petraske's latest venture in the East Village. A year after the community board shot down its bid for a wine-and-beer license (not even the proprietor of ultraquiet Milk and Honey can get a liquor license in this town), the venture is now up and running as a coffee shop — and though we're dismayed to know we won't be able to enjoy a nice cava here anytime soon, some strong gourmet coffee should perk us up. Anyhow, seems time to take a closer look inside.

Food Network to Publish Magazine?; Food-Porn Photos for Sale

Hearst Publications is supposedly in talks with the Food Network to publish a new food magazine and has been stealing editors from Every Day With Rachael Ray for months. The only problem? The channel’s big stars don’t seem to be a part of the publication. [Mixed Media/Portfolio] Soto chef Sotohiro Kosugi responds to fears of too much mercury in tuna. “Eat with balance. Balance of meals is the key to a healthy life.” [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Related: Sushi Eaters Face Tuna Fears Neil Ferguson, Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, and others are leading a full-on British culinary invasion on our shores. [Chicago Tribune]

Calories to Show Up on Menus Starting March 31; Mercury Levels Horrifically High in Tuna Sushi

The Board of Health decided yesterday in a unanimous vote to make all chain restaurants with fifteen or more outlets – approximately 10 percent of the city’s restaurants – post calorie info on their menus starting March 31. RIP, 1,230-calorie triple Whopper with cheese. [CNN] Laboratory tests run on sushi samples from twenty Manhattan stores and restaurants revealed shockingly high levels of mercury in bluefin tuna, so high that the FDA could technically take the fish off the market. And if you’ve got to have your tuna sushi, you’d best head to Fairway and avoid Blue Ribbon Sushi at all costs. [NYT] Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl is “obsessed with” Momofuku Ssäm Bar, “like everyone else in New York,” according to her. [TONY]

Rachael Ray Brushes Off Her Starbucks Scandal As ‘Ridiculous’

The blowback from last week’s item about Rachael Ray, in which the Food Network star was reputed to have demanded Starbucks rather than her own officially endorsed Dunkin' Donuts coffee, has apparently reached Ray. OK! magazine sent a reporter to a Friday taping of The Rachael Ray Show to ask the inexplicably omnipresent food personality about the rumor and its possible damage to her relationship with Dunkin’ Donuts. The wholly predictable response? “It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous.” We agree, Rache! But you didn’t say whether it was true! OK! Exclusive: Rachael Ray Denies Starbucks Rumor [OK!] Related: Rachael Ray Doesn't Like Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Any More Than We Do

Rachael Ray Doesn't Like Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Any More Than We Do

A friend of Grub Street writes us:
So a friend of mine was on set last week as Rachael Ray filmed her latest Dunkin' Donuts commercial. According to her, Rachael stormed onto the set and snapped at everyone. Not news, I know, everyone knows she's actually a gigantic asshole. BUT! I am also told she took one sip of her Dunkin' Donuts coffee, yelled “What is this shit? Get me MY coffee,” and would not continue until she was given “her” coffee — i.e., Starbucks.
If this is true, it's the first thing we've read that makes us like Rachael Ray. Maybe her diva-ish behavior is what's causing the turmoil at her magazine, but we're with her on this one: Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is the worst.

Bed-Stuy Residents Score an Alternative to Dunkin’ Donuts

This café-coffee-shop hybrid swung open its screen door for the first time last week (kitty-corner to a new Dunks), happily filling a small part of Bed-Stuy’s dining void. Owner and neighborhood resident Lisa Bayer is a former personal chef, and her menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches is above par (we tried a refreshing Brie, cucumber, and tarragon-mayo sandwich on a baguette), obsessive with regard to ingredients (the roast-beef-and-Fontina panini are yanked from the menu on days when the beef isn’t just-dead), and boasts waffles, French toast, and a breakfast panino during weekend brunch.

Mr. Chow Sued for $5 Million; Loans Crush Wannabe Chefs

Michael Chow of Mr. Chow is hit with a $5 million lawsuit for skimming tips, demanding “cult-like attention” from staff, and utilizing “degradation as a management technique.” [NYP] Cooking-school graduates are being crushed by their student-loan debts: “The story is always the same. The school convinces the student they are going to be the next Julia Child or Wolfgang Puck, and the student will sign anything.” [NYT] The Smith and Wollensky Restaurant Group finally agrees to be bought out by Patina Restaurant Group [NYT] Related: The Secrets of Steakhouse Riches [Grub Street]

‘Local’ Actor Makes Good (Coffee)

Struggling actors used to wait tables to pay the bills. These days, they open coffee shops. First came Jack’s Stir-Brew, the homespun, four-table nook where Jack Mazzola fends off ever-encroaching Starbucks with Fair Trade beans, organic apples, and a conspicuously neighborhood-friendly vibe. And then late last month, Craig Walker, an avowed Jack’s fan, followed suit with Local, an equally pint-size nook with a similarly enlightened approach to sourcing beans and fostering community.

Tourists Come Here to Eat; A-List Chefs Heading to South Beach

“Culinary tourism” is on the rise, and New York is one of the prime beneficiaries. “This is to me more interesting than museums,” says one tourist. [1010 WINS] It’s not easy for a fast-food franchisee out there, with all those germs floating around. [NYT] The upcoming South Beach Wine and Food Festival is being described as the “culinary Super Bowl.” [Miami Herald]