Sake Gumi


- This week, Cochon555, the founders of the modern day whole-hog movement and cooking competition proved they need to brush up on their cultural sensitivity. Cochon, who claim its their mission to "educate chefs" on the importance of quality ingredients and responsibly raised proteins, posted a cringe-worthy photo from its “late-night Asian speak-easy.” The picture, taken on October 28 at the event features Cochon founder Brady Lowe with a few other chefs, including Muss & Turner’s Todd Mussman, who is seen wearing a kimono, bamboo hat, and squinty-eye glasses. Former Cochon555 winners, Chefs Erik Bruner-Yang, Jonah Kim, and Danny Lee, have called out Cochon for posting the offensive image and its stereotyping of Asian culture. Cochon removed the photo and later, both Lowe and Mussman apologized, but this is just a glimpse at longstanding ignorance and racism that Asians experience in the restaurant industry. (Washington Post)


- You do not want to badmouth cats online unless you want to be trolled to death for your blasphemy. One woman, Diana D., experienced the wrath of cat people, when she posted a one-star Yelp review for S.K. Deli Market in the East Village, home of resident bodega cat, Ciao Bella.


"Besides being allergic, I wonder what the health code say(s) about this?" she posted in her review, along with a photo of the black and white feline sleeping atop a display of Bud Light. In case you were wondering, it is actually illegal for bodegas to have cats inside their stores, but the feline fines are often worth incurring if it means not having rats. Even die-hard dog people can agree with that logic. And really, how can you hate a bodega cat?! (Mashable)

- Blame Cookie Monster: If you ever want to annoy the shit out of Kayoko, use the word, "Nom," or worse yet, "Om nom nom!" But she's not the only who shudders whenever someone uses this "cute" culinary catchphrase. Most serious food writers steer clear of the word and all its iterations. Eater has lifted its "nom" ban to write a piece of the history of this grating phenomenon. From its originator, Cookie Monster, to its proliferation via an Internet cat meme and its eventual entry into the Oxford living dictionary, "nom" has managed to ingrain itself into the lexicon of this era. But like lots of popular word trends, there'll come a day that it'll disappear. We hope! (Eater)

- Cue the Good Eats theme music, Alton Brown is creating a sequel to the beloved and unapologetically nerdy cooking show. Brown was the creator and host of Good Eats, which aired on the Food Network from 1999 until 2011. Brown, who's like the Bill Nye of the food world, recently revealed a Facebook Live video stream about his new online series, A Cooking Show, which he says "is essentially a sequel to Good Eats,” but without the restraints that come with being on TV. (Tasting Table)

- Speaking of nerdy cooking show hosts... Christopher Kimball, the founder of Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen who parted ways with the brand after failed contract negotiations, has started a new company called Milk Street Kitchen. As a fan of Cooks Illustrated, ATK, and the oft-curmudgeonly bow-tied Kimball, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of Milk Street. But some others, including those who remain at America's Test Kitchen and a restaurant called Milk Street Cafe, are not so enthusiastic. This week, ATK has sued Kimball, claiming the former host "literally and conceptually ripped off America’s Test Kitchen." This comes after Milk Street Cafe filed a trademark lawsuit against Milk Street Kitchen. (Boston Globe)

- Best in the West, East, and Elsewhere: Tokyo was just named "The Best City in the World" by Condé Nast Traveler. Number two on the list? Kyoto! The accolades are based on a survey of 100,000 readers of their favorite cities in the world outside the U.S. And while this survey isn't necessarily based on food alone, you can't help but mention each city's culinary attributes. "Kyoto is also well known for kaiseki, the traditional multi-course meal that changes seasonally: For an authentic meal without Michelin prices, try 200-year-old ryokan Kinmata," explains Condé Nast Traveler. And about Tokyo, "A center for innovation, this Japanese capital has more Michelin stars than any other place on earth, and is—no surprise—one of the world’s best food destinations. For just a taste of what the city can offer, pull up a stool and dig deep into a bowl of inventive ramen at Kikanbo, or sample rare Japanese whiskey at Bar Ben Fiddich." (Condé Nast Traveler)

- Caldari di Ortona in Italy didn't make it on "The Best Cities" list, but maybe this news nugget will upgrade its standings enough for next year. On October 9, the town opened a free, all-you-can-drink wine fountain. The fontana del vino was opened by Caldari di Ortona's winery, Dora Sarchese, for thirsty travelers visiting the Saint Thomas at Ortona's cathedral. I have a feeling the town will soon be gaining a lot more non-religious visitors. (Thrillist)

- I know several current and ex-Trader Joe's employees and have heard a mixed bag of good and bad stories about working at everyone's favorite cheap grocery store. The worst complaints I've heard are about the entitled customers (one, e.g., liked bringing his huge coffee thermos to fill every morning at the free coffee sample display. "What? It's free.") and the endless backbreaking work. But I had never heard that the friendly attitude all TJ workers seem to have is part of the mandated job description. One Trader Joe's employee claims he was fired for not being genuine enough about his friendliness. Is it fair for an employer to judge a worker's smile to evaluate their job committment and work ethic? Those of us with Resting Bitch Face may not agree. The next time you're at Trader Joe's, please remember to be nice to the employees, because their jobs may depend on being nice to you. (New York Times)

The Umami Reader: Mining the internet for stuff about food worth reading and watching