Editor’s Note: In September we announced that Skift was expanding into food and drink with the addition of the Chefs+Tech weekly newsletter.

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We see this as a natural expansion of the Skift umbrella, bringing the big picture view on the future of dining out, being fanatically focused on the guest experience, and at the intersection of marketing and tech.

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Should Restaurants Offer Guests That First Taste of Wine?

As you know, we love a good industry controversy. So hot on the high heels of Valentine’s Day, it seems fitting that we follow the Times’ Eric Asimov into the trenches as he looks into the age-old tradition of sommeliers offering tastings before guests commit to a bottle of wine. Here’s all sides. Asimov writes: “It raises a fascinating question for wine lovers [referring to the agitation of one oenophilic guest at Italienne at NY, forerunners in the no-tasting space]: Does it make sense to eliminate elements of restaurant wine service if they seem pointless or cause agitation?” Lots of somms seem to think so—who really knows a corked bottle from a well-aged bottle of Screaming Eagle anyway?! Well, lots of people, probably… so then there’s the whole school of thought like the folks over at Union Square Hospitality that eschews the notion that you wouldn’t be able to sample a wine you’re about to lay your rent on the table for. Discuss. Jury’s still out.

Tony Bourdain Let the New Yorker Profile Him and You Should Read It

Pardon while we gush about a few things that a.) make our world better, b.) we just can’t get enough of in the food + tech + media, and c.) Obama makes an appearance. This week’s New Yorker has an extreme lengthy (to be expected), but as such merited, profile of Anthony Bourdain, which effectively unpacks just how a drug-addled cook from your average midtown steak joint broke out and rose to the top of, frankly, the world. The profile opens with a scene where Tony dines with Barry O. in Hanoi, a dinner requested by The White House, with an approved bottle of beer, as they shoot an episode of Parts Unknown.

A favorite passage: “Obama took a bite and let out a low murmur. ‘That’s the good stuff,’ he said, and the two of them—lanky, conspicuosly cool guys in late middle age—slurped away as three cameras, which Bourdain had once likened to ‘drunken hummingbirds,’ hovered around them.” What could be cooler? The piece also teases the upcoming opening of the Roman + Williams designed hawker market that Bourdain has plans to open on Manhattan’s west side. A high brow / low brow celebration of the street food markets of Asian, which we credit No Reservations with bringing to the American public palate, we can’t wait to see what a real live food establishment from the food media extraordinaire will be like. Stay tuned.

The Last Howard Johnson Is Officially Closing, Signifying the End of a Restaurant Era

The restaurant that essentially created the notion of dining en route, not to mention the original chain inspiring generations of fast casual concepts to come and gave us such beloved culinary favorites as Jacques Pepin, has come to the end of its road. In a wonderfully researched piece penned by Eater, writer Everett Cook looks into the history of the chain that (depending on your age) your parents always told you about stopping in for “dinner out” on family road trips. It’s fascinating stuff. And, who knew that it all began in a drugstore in Quincy, Massachusetts, which he purchased in 1925. Eat your heart out, Wahlburgers. May you fellow New Englander not leave such a lasting culinary legacy.

Digestifs:

  • Trump’s food policy agenda. Better read it.
  • Okay, we know this isn’t exactly restaurant tech news, but in similar verticals—hello, travel!—it’s worth noting. How tech talent is infiltrating the hotel biz.
  • Chef takeovers are always… interesting. Especially in high profile spots like Del Posto in NY. Curious how Melissa Rodriguez will stack up against titan of the past like, ahem, Mario Batali? Read on.
  • V Day ain’t for the faint of heart, we know that. And yes we have a wine theme this week. The dark side of Valentine’s vino.

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Photo Credit: Anthony Bourdain and former President Barack Obama dining in Hanoi, Vietnam. The New Yorker has a deep profile of the former in this week's issue. CNN