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The Crumb for October 13th, 2017

Lori Bailey / October 13th 2017

Today's Crumb dropped behind a hot cup of chicory tea.

Happy Friday! Add a drop of smoked water to whatever’s in your mug, sit back, and settle into this past week’s food news.


Enough already

Just what nobody wanted: more devastating natural disasters to tack onto this year’s growing list. Yet, for the thousands of homes and businesses whose owners have had to evacuate, the wildfires streaking across Northern California are a grim reality. The blaze’s aggressive advance has consumed 191,000 acres so far, including some of the area’s much-beloved vineyards. For American winemaking, the event is a disaster; several wineries, hotels and restaurants are known to have been destroyed in the fire, and hundreds of workers (many undocumented) may find themselves without work if production is forced to stall. Still too early to tell how badly the industry as a whole has been hit — but, at this point, the NorCal community is just trying to rally together and focus on saving lives. Want to help? Join the relief efforts on Go Fund Me.


When you cross 100K followers on Instagram

Been there, done that. What’s next? That’s the question for Chef Alvin Cailan, most famous for his L.A.-based, ‘gram-tastic venture Eggslut. In his words, he’s “steering towards the future” and is “not trying to make Instagram food anymore” — statements that might sound incongruous to those who hold that social media defines the future. But Cailan, who has spent the past 8 months living in New York City and absorbing its no-nonsense attitude, is refocusing on healthier options, all-day dining, flavor first, and a return to his Filipino roots. He admits, too, that getting older has changed the foods and lifestyles he craves. A thought to keep in mind as the Insta-generation inevitably ages.


Michelin-tired out

One big reason that Chef André Chiang has announced that he’s closing the doors of his two-starred Singapore establishment, Restaurant André. The restaurant has received plenty of acclaim over its 7-year run, including being named to 2017’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and ranking at #2 out of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Now, though, the weight of Michelin glory has become too much for Chiang to bear. Which is why he’s returning his restaurant’s stars, hanging up a “permanently closed” sign, and returning to his restaurant Raw in Taipei, Taiwan. While he’s certainly not the first chef to “return” Michelin stars, it’s worth wondering how the organization’s recent (and steadily mounting) activity in Asia might continue to influence restaurants’ and diners’ expectations across the continent. Star-struck, good luck.


Wildly popular

For Arby’s, knowing a thing or two about their consumer base seems to have landed them a winner in their Venison Sandwich — a seasonal LTO marking the start of deer-hunting season. The game sandwich was originally tested in select locations across six strategically-chosen states; yet even considering how narrowly they targeted their market, the sandwich was still an unprecedented success, with some locations’ stocks wiped clean in a matter of minutes. This year, Arby’s is releasing the venison sandwich nationwide on a single day (October 21st) and expects a similarly enthusiastic reception. And that’s not all — a new, extra-rare variant featuring elk will also be tested in a handful of locations. For the “biggest venison promotion in the world,” gotta go big or go home, home on the range.


Something vegan all enjoy

Plant-based sure is having a moment — and if you’re at the head of an ambitious, plant-based fast-casual like Next Level Burger, you’re probably betting it’s not fading away anytime soon. For owners Matt and Cierra de Gruyter, their goals are as lofty as their meatless patties piled high with vegan toppings: in ten years, grow into a large-scale chain that pushes the norms of American food culture. No big deal. But their path to national burger revolution isn’t paved with exclusivity, or even hipness. They even avoid using such potentially polarizing terms as “vegan” and “vegetarian.” Instead, they're pursuing an all-inclusive, familiar-feeling burger joint slinging the sort of tasty, soul-scratching fare that anyone can enjoy. Just better for you. Hey, if it’s a revolution they want — the more customers whose trust they can win, the merrier.


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