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The Last Great Bastion of Racism

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Steve May 14, 2014 02:41 PM

Food Journalism: the last great whites-only club. Are there any negro food writers? Are African or Jamaican restaurants touted with gusto? If you are a racist but don't want to join the KKK, is becoming a foodie the next best thing? Are trendy white - or soon to be white- neighborhoods safer to write about? Are African-American chefs allowed in the kitchen?

Sure, there is Carla Hall... and maybe the Neelys. Are they our Denzel Washington? Good enough for a starring role evey once in a while as long as the character is not actually black. Or do our black chefs need a white saviour in order to be accepted by a white, I mean foodie, audience?

Are we enjoying the cooking of Viola Davis while Emma Stone works the hostess stand?

If they clandestinely banned black people at your favorite restaurant, when would you realize? If they refused to hire black hosts or hostesses, would you know? Or would your first inkling be on the 5 o'clock news?

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  1. DockPotato RE: Steve May 14, 2014 02:54 PM

    Come to Toronto and you will find, "African or Jamaican restaurants touted with gusto".

    Jerk, Roti and Ethiopian and other African food are discussed at length and enthusiasm in our media and in the Ontario (inc. Toronto) board - check it out.

    Search "African" for that board and you will be surprised and gratified.

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    1. re: DockPotato
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      Steve RE: DockPotato May 14, 2014 07:27 PM

      There is some discussion in DC about Ethiopian, but after that it looks bleak. Good to know about Toronto.

      Still, what are the major newspapers in Toronto? Do they have any black critics? Do they put out any top lists? Are there any black chefs on the list? When you think of the latest foodie restaurants, do black people go there?

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      1. re: Steve
        Veggo RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:37 PM

        Toronto has only an 8.5% black population.

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        1. re: Veggo
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          Steve RE: Veggo May 14, 2014 07:53 PM

          Yeah, Canada is not exactly where I was thinking of when I started this thread. And sorry if you folks in New Zealand feel a bit left out too.

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          1. re: Steve
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            FriedClamFanatic RE: Steve May 15, 2014 01:17 PM

            Yes, and Mr. Anti-Racist seems to totally have forgotten about Asian food

            When in doubt or the wrong, play the racist card

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            1. re: FriedClamFanatic
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              Steve RE: FriedClamFanatic May 15, 2014 01:54 PM

              I started this thread to discuss mostly the employment of black people in the sphere of the burgeoining 'Foodie' industry from writing to restaurant staff.

              You are welcome to add any insights you have regarding Asian food writers or other employees.

              Most cities have huge unemployment numbers regarding their black population. With an enormous foodie revolution going on, especially with the onslaught of interest in Modern American cuisine, I was wondering why I don't see more black writers and black staff.

              As far as the epithet of "Mr Anti-Racist" is concerned, I didn't realize that placed me in such a distinctive camp.

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              1. re: Steve
                jen kalb RE: Steve May 16, 2014 07:35 PM

                Steve, here in NY we see quite a few black staff members in upscale restaurants. The last two fine dining restaurants we went to both had black servers, for example. I would assume the same is true in DC.

                I have to note that historically there were a lot of blacks preparing and serving food in this country. Like the other trades it does not seem to be an occupation that families and schools encourage black (or other) kids toward these days. the college degree and white collar is the thing. There are plenty of black entrepreneurs who open and manage independent and franchise restaurants especially within the black community - Ive met young black college grads that aspire to this It seems to me that these young people are less likely to be attracted to the types of foodie shrines or to cheffing in them or writing about them because they are farther from their home and community experience.

                In my still largely black part of Brooklyn there are a fair number of black-owned restaurants, caribbean, southern or recently BBQ (the co-owner of Morgans is from Bed-Sty). Historically there were others, most prominently Gage and Tollners (closed maybe 10 years ago), which had at one point Edna Lewis as chef serving her wonderful southern cuisine - this restaurant always had a corps of very fine professional black waiters. Their is a prosperous Afro-American and Caribbean population to support these restaurants. In addition, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of smaller caribbean, african and soul restaurants here. They mostly serve simple food at a inexpensive price point and their cuisine is targeted at their own community, primarily. this second category of restaurants can certainly include classic chowhound type "finds" with delicious food, but not the sort of places that high end critics will frequent.

                I suggest that if OP wants to comment on issues racial, he should spend more time visiting the black community and meeting the people there. There are certainly still cultural and economic barriers which can deter crossover from minority to the larger communities, but its not a simple matter of white "racism" making crossover less frequent.

                Finally, Id like to comment on the point that was made about Indian restaurants. There are very fine indian restaurants, including some crossover successes in NY and other major cities. Chefs like Floyd Cardoz have been very successful at translating the Indian flavors into a context more recognizeable to europeans, Out of this category which is largely patronizedby prosperous expats and westerners - most Indian, mexican, african etc restaurants, like the caribbean places mentioned above, exist mainly to provide familiar food to their own communities (and takeout food to Americans) at a cheap price. Since most people whatever the race or culture tend to prefer the familar, I think that it is a higher hill to climb to popularize indian foods, say than french.Most Americans do not appreciate fine Chinese, Korean, middle eastern or japanese cuisine, either.

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                1. re: jen kalb
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                  Steve RE: jen kalb May 16, 2014 09:06 PM

                  Thanks for your comments, jen. Judging form what you've said, what is happening in Brooklyn is very different from DC. I believe I took your advice my last time in Brooklyn and went to Milan's for Slovakian food.

                  "I suggest that if OP wants to comment on issues racial, he should spend more time visiting the black community and meeting the people there."

                  I've been in DC for a long time now. Back when I worked on 14th St, I had three soul food places within a block, and I was the palest face around. I worked at the Source Theatre, building scenery to all hours of the night, so I was intimately familiar with the denizens of the neighborhood into the wee hours. We had three 'theatres' there at the time, one was little more than a squatters house, and we did shows in the back alley as well. As an old style Chowhound, I've traipsed around every corner of DC. I was also a basketball junkie, so I played pick up games all over town, from under the 395 highway on I St, SE to Adams Morgan. A torn ACL and miniscus during one of those games sideilned me for good. And when a guy like me walked into the old Ibex Club at Missouri and Georgia Aves, where everyone (but me) gets patted down, my presence in the audience is not lost on the comedian who introduced the acts. I am a GoGo fan (old school).

                  But I am also a soul food devotee as well as african, jamaican, and just about anything else I can get my hands on. The 'top five' in my profile lists a soul food place that I wrote about before anyone else got there - and has since become a known quantitiy- and a jamaican place that is as far out into SE DC, across the Anacostia River, as you can get. I made friends with Liberté of Chez Aunty Libe (Senegalese) before anyone knew she was there. I enjoy practicing my French with her. Unfortunately she is still struggling. Why? The press will still write up and talk about the lastest Modern American joint rather than give her an inch of attention. The Washington Post Weekend's section did a 40 best bites, and I'm pretty sure it reflected chefs, owners, and a clientele that represented a veritable "Day of Absence" for the negro. (if you are familiar with the Douglas Turner Ward play).

                  This is not to say my observations are better than anyone else's. I asked a lot of questions in the OP. Yes, I was trying to be provocative, but mostly because I am angry that this is an area of economic opportunity that African-Americans seem to be shut out of. My first point of contention, though, i think is irrefutable: the press is all-white. Not just a little white, but all-white. And I see a preference for Eurocentric dining and that means more stars and the idea that the best restaurants or best food in a city are just that. Langston Bar and Grill, in an area of town that sees few restaurants, is completely overlooked and has no foodie cred - maybe it isn't daring enough.

                  I see from your post that maybe DC is vastly different from other places, so that's good to know. Honestly, seeing multiple African-Americans working an upscale restuarant was a surprise to me.

                  So one more question, how about the Chowhounds in New York? Do they reflect the African-American presence in that city?

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                  1. re: Steve
                    jen kalb RE: Steve May 17, 2014 07:28 AM

                    Curious, are you saying that blacks are excluded from taking culinary courses, applying for jobs in upscale restaurants or exploring other cuisines? As for being a big C or little c chowhound, thats wholly a matter of self selection. Perhaps since you are inclined to explore, you underrate the tendency of most people (of all sorts) to stay within their comfort zones, their own community, the familiar food of their childhood, etc. It takes an intrepid spirit and/or encouragement and education to move outside. The very size of the black community in places like DC, NY or Philly may make it less likely that people who grow up there want to or can envision options outside. While racial and cultural attitudes are clearly a factor, its a two way street. I serve meals at my church coffee hour, we have a very large Caribbean population and many of the folks will not touch any food which does not fall within familiar categories cooked in the way they prefer. Its not that different from trying to serve real thai food in suburban ohio.

                    Lastly, DC and its suburbs are geographically very spread out. Do you think the black bourgeoisie are patronizing restaurants in the district (say in SE) or are they hanging out in the suburbs? Without prosperous patrons, restaurants arent likely to be able to raise their sights, use the best quality ingredients, provide a comfortable dining experience.Without these factors, restaurants will remain chowhound faves rather than more mainstream choices.

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                    1. re: jen kalb
                      chowser RE: jen kalb May 17, 2014 08:58 AM

                      This is a great discussion. What I find in the DC area (and Boston back in the 80' and 90's when I lived there but don't know if it's the same) is that, while it is diverse, it is almost a self-segregated diversity compared to an area like NYC or SF where groups tend to mix and mingle w/out thought. This is obviously very generalized. I'd be hard pressed in NYC or SF to find a restaurant that is all white. I wonder if this is a catch 22. There are restaurants which are predominantly white which makes people who are African American not want to go and because not many go, there aren't many in the industry. I don't really pay attention to racial make up in restaurants (growing up in Ohio in the 70's, I was almost always the only nonwhite so just got used to it. The next time I go to trendier/higher end restaurants, I'll pay attention.

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                      1. re: jen kalb
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                        Steve RE: jen kalb May 17, 2014 09:12 AM

                        There are some big changes going on right now in DC. Top 'foodie' destinations are popping up in locations that would have been considered off limits even two years ago. So talk of 'comfort zones' is being thrown out the window.

                        Restaurant critics will now send their readers to those neighborhoods that would have been unthinkable before. But what paradigms are being followed? Who is being hired? That is a big part of what I'm talking about.

                        So part of the equation is that an older restaurant like Chez Aunty Libe or Langston Bar and Grill are still being ignored. And part of the equation is that predominantly white clientele are flocking to predominantly white chefs hiring predominantly white staff in predominantly black neighborhoods - or should I say soon to be white neighborhoods- by white restaurant critics.

                        This is not just a case of white vs black, but some categories are included in this as well. So a Salvadoran place, (among others) willl also be in this situation. Despite the huge increase of a local Bolivian population and ensuing restaurants popping up, they too get ignored. High tone Indian will receive its due, but family style - no. And don't even mention the idea that Indian cuisine is hardly monolithic - specific regions or identities are not part of the conversation.

                        So, yeah, that's why we have Chowhound, and I recognize that already. But now it seems more economically impactful than ever before.

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                    2. re: jen kalb
                      girloftheworld RE: jen kalb May 17, 2014 08:26 AM

                      your post also reminded me of a book I read when I was little called "The Tap Dance Kid" about a blackboy who wanted to tap dance and his father didnt want him to. Not because it was dance but because he equated it with days when "tappin' for the white man" was really like being a court jester and a way regulating blacks to to a serving class "cook for the whites clean for the whites entertain for the whites" . Food and the importance of it on more than just a "eat to live" way is becooming more widly embraced across all demographics.

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                      1. re: girloftheworld
                        chowser RE: girloftheworld May 17, 2014 09:00 AM

                        This is the perfect example of what I was saying about it being a self-selecting group Because no one does it, no one thinks or wants to do it. I think of skiing, too, having been a predominantly white activity (lol, literally, too). But in the past decade or so, there has been a big outreach at my little mountain and the numbers of other races has increased substantially. Enough that it's a fairly diverse place.

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                        1. re: girloftheworld
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                          heavysnaxx RE: girloftheworld May 24, 2014 04:45 PM

                          Oops, meant to reply to girloftheworld:

                          Are you talking about "Nobody's Family Is Going to Change" by Louise Fitzhugh? I read it when it came out, around 1974. The boy who wanted to tap dance was the little brother of the middle-school-aged main character, Emma, who wanted to be a lawyer. Their father opposed both of their ambitions. It was a great portrayal of how race/class/gender issues are inter-twined.

                          Any mention of Louise Fitzhugh makes me want a tomato sandwich. Sigh.

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                    3. re: FriedClamFanatic
                      PotatoHouse RE: FriedClamFanatic May 20, 2014 10:27 AM

                      And don't forget Hispanic food also....

                      BTW, when did the Volunteer Thought Police force start using the word "negro" again?? I have seen it on Facebook also being used by the same type of person. What is this, 1962??

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                      1. re: PotatoHouse
                        MplsM ary RE: PotatoHouse May 20, 2014 10:46 AM

                        It's really not pejorative - United Negro College Fund tells me so.

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                        1. re: MplsM ary
                          Bob W RE: MplsM ary May 20, 2014 10:49 AM

                          Really? You think "Colored people" is still ok because it's part of the name of the NAACP?

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                          1. re: Bob W
                            MplsM ary RE: Bob W May 20, 2014 11:15 AM

                            People of color vs colored people. If they are ok with it, I will abide.

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                              Steve RE: Bob W May 20, 2014 11:42 AM

                              Only Lou Reed can get away with that....

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                          2. re: PotatoHouse
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                            Steve RE: PotatoHouse May 20, 2014 11:40 AM

                            Gosh, I didn't know I had been nominated to the Volunteer Thought Police Force. That's very nice of you, though I am unclear how I am preventing or denying you from thinking.

                            "What is this, 1962??"

                            This has been covered before, but just in case you didn't know....

                            http://www.stewsongs.com

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                            1. re: Steve
                              MGZ RE: Steve May 20, 2014 11:51 AM

                              "I am unclear how I am preventing or denying [anyone] from thinking."

                              I don't know how you did it either, but there's been a lot of evidence here to support the notion that you may have.

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                            2. re: PotatoHouse
                              mcf RE: PotatoHouse May 24, 2014 05:09 PM

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9757...

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                      2. re: Steve
                        DockPotato RE: Steve May 15, 2014 05:00 AM

                        "Do they have any black critics?" Quite possibly. Who knows? Who cares?

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                        1. re: DockPotato
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                          Steve RE: DockPotato May 15, 2014 07:04 AM

                          Would you be so dismissive if this translated into another career, like judges?

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                          1. re: Steve
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                            LexiFirefly RE: Steve May 15, 2014 10:06 AM

                            I think his comment was more that our critics go by pseudonyms and no one knows what they look like. Hence the "who knows, who cares" comment.

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                          2. re: DockPotato
                            DockPotato RE: DockPotato May 15, 2014 11:27 AM

                            I should have elaborated. By my remark I mean that race is simply not a factor. None whatsoever.

                            Racism certainly exists in the city, no gainsaying, but our bigots are themselves the minority.

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                        2. re: DockPotato
                          mtlcowgirl RE: DockPotato May 15, 2014 06:11 PM

                          Montreal, too.

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                          thingmaker RE: Steve May 14, 2014 03:01 PM

                          'If they clandestinely banned black people at your favorite restaurant, when would you realize?'

                          Almost instantly.

                          'If they refused to hire black hosts or hostesses, would you know? Or would your first inkling be on the 5 o'clock news?'

                          I'm pretty sure I'd notice. I have a repertoire of favorite restaurants in my area and I'm friendly with most of the servers and hosts/hostesses.

                          Many of my favorite places are run by and staffed by Hispanic people. I've never seen a white person working there. Does it bother me? No.

                          I eat where the food is good and the atmosphere is fun, mostly on recommendations from my friends. I trust their opinions.

                          Food journalists? Who do you mean? Can you give an example?

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                          1. re: thingmaker
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                            Steve RE: thingmaker May 14, 2014 07:14 PM

                            The primary critic of a newspaper. Are any of them black?

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                            1. re: Steve
                              EM23 RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:57 PM

                              Have you checked with any of the associations of food professionals and culinary journalists to get current data on membership statistics, minority recruitment programs, etc.?

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                              1. re: Steve
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                                GH1618 RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:59 PM

                                Who would know? How many black journalists want to be the food critic? Do you think a newspaper should force one of their black reporters (of which there are many) to do the food column just because the industry as a whole needs more black representation in that area? The proposition is ridiculous.

                                Newspapers are struggling. What they want are good writers who will increase readership. No paper which needed a food reviewer would reject someone who was knowledgeable about food and who was a good writer for reasons of race. If you feel you have been rejected because of race, you'll just have to sue and try to prove it.

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                                1. re: Steve
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                                  GH1618 RE: Steve May 14, 2014 08:11 PM

                                  http://topics.wsj.com/person/G/doroth...

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                                    Bkeats RE: Steve May 20, 2014 08:22 AM

                                    Well the new managing editor of the NY Times is black

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                                2. ennuisans RE: Steve May 14, 2014 03:29 PM

                                  While after reflection I have to confess that my Feedly food blog list is darned whitecentric, I have to ask: why aren't minorities firing up their Wordpress accounts and writing about food? There is nothing stopping any person of any ethnic background from writing about anything they want.

                                  (The actual answer is that 9/10 of contemporary food writers are former hedge managers/spouses who fled the rat race and are eating their way through their 401(k)s hoping there's a payday at the other end. And those folks are all white.)

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                                    RedTop RE: Steve May 14, 2014 04:30 PM

                                    This is going to be an amusing thread to follow!

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                                    1. EatFoodGetMoney RE: Steve May 14, 2014 04:35 PM

                                      "Negro food writers," seriously

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                                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney
                                        gaffk RE: EatFoodGetMoney May 14, 2014 05:40 PM

                                        Other than period-piece movies like "The Butler" or "The Help," when have you last heard negro or black?

                                        This OP just baffles me, a post-babyboomer (just barely) resident of mid-Atlantic American big city.

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                                        1. re: gaffk
                                          ennuisans RE: gaffk May 14, 2014 06:55 PM

                                          "Black" is still pretty common, just not so much in print.

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                                          1. re: ennuisans
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                                            Steve RE: ennuisans May 14, 2014 07:35 PM

                                            I am still not sure what you suggest as an alternative.....

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                                            1. re: Steve
                                              EatFoodGetMoney RE: Steve May 14, 2014 08:06 PM

                                              "Black," works. All of the black people I know take no offense to that, "African American," works too but it's a mouthful, and not all black people are African, or have African ancestry.

                                              For what it's worth I'm not saying you're a racist just because you said "negro". Most people find it offensive, including most black people I know/have known/discussed this subject with. Just saying "negro," doesn't mean you are necessarily a racist, insensitive yes, but not necessarily a racist. I hope you never say "negro," in public, it's pretty gauche.

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                                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney
                                                mtlcowgirl RE: EatFoodGetMoney May 15, 2014 06:13 PM

                                                Also, African American only works in the US.

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                                                1. re: mtlcowgirl
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                                                  Bellachefa RE: mtlcowgirl May 15, 2014 06:14 PM

                                                  not so much

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                                                  1. re: mtlcowgirl
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                                                    Steve RE: mtlcowgirl May 15, 2014 06:57 PM

                                                    Yeah, I thought about that. Depends if you are considering it as an umbrella term for all the Americas.

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                                                      Bkeats RE: Steve May 20, 2014 08:22 AM

                                                      I think a large part of the south american population would look at you oddly if you referred to them as african american

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                                                      1. re: Bkeats
                                                        MplsM ary RE: Bkeats May 20, 2014 08:40 AM

                                                        Our language is all in flux. I just finished community college with a very diverse population. In my required English classes (made up of 30-50 percent English as a second language students), our reading and writing was focused on current social issues. Much of the first week in both classes was taken up in explaining things like "African American." One Ethiopian I sat next to was surprised by the term and wanted to argue its use as imprecise and/or incorrect. Eventually the professor instructed those who had a problem with the term to silently insert "black" for African American.

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                                                        1. re: MplsM ary
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                                                          GH1618 RE: MplsM ary May 20, 2014 08:56 AM

                                                          It is an imprecise term, since most dark-skinned Americans have ancestors from Europe or Asia as well. A large part of my ancestry is German, but nobody calls me a "German-American." "African-American" makes no more sense than that. We are both just American.

                                                          The entire notion of race is flawed and, in today's world, obsolete.

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                                                          1. re: GH1618
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                                                            Steve RE: GH1618 May 20, 2014 09:29 AM

                                                            Sure, we are all just Americans, except for those who aren't, but even those who are Americans should be able to recognize diversity when we see it, and to make note of it. Just like I referenced Day of Absence.

                                                            I fully accept now that in other cities, African-Americans may be playing a much bigger role in the Foodiesphere than is easily seen in Washington, DC.

                                                            Foodiespeher, that's my new favorite word.

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                                                            1. re: GH1618
                                                              tcamp RE: GH1618 May 20, 2014 10:20 AM

                                                              That reminds me of a conversation with my son about a classmate of his. In response to my inquiries about the kid, son told me that he was "Australian American."

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                                                              1. re: tcamp
                                                                girloftheworld RE: tcamp May 20, 2014 11:40 AM

                                                                Actually my Grandfather was born in SOuth Africa to parents who were born in South Africa ( his family settled in South Africa in the late 1700s much like a lot of Americans coming to America) Soooooo my mom is first generation American... When she identified herself as African American in school once she was sent to the office

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                                                                1. re: girloftheworld
                                                                  EWSflash RE: girloftheworld Jun 1, 2014 10:18 AM

                                                                  Assuming she's white, that's pretty funny, in an ignoranus (not a typo) sort of way on the teacher's part. A plastic surgeon of my acquaintance grew up in South Africa and likes to play on that for humor.

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                                                          2. re: Bkeats
                                                            Bob W RE: Bkeats May 20, 2014 08:42 AM

                                                            Since most of them speak spanish or portuguese, not english, they'd probably look at you oddly regardless of what you were saying. Just sayin.' 8<D

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                                                            1. re: Bob W
                                                              The Chowhound Team RE: Bob W May 20, 2014 12:10 PM

                                                              Folks, you may have missed the request since it's further down the thread, but we asked people to let this tangent go and refocus on elements that have to do with food. Thanks.

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                                                            2. re: Bkeats
                                                              Insidious Rex RE: Bkeats May 28, 2014 11:08 AM

                                                              I think the term "African American" works just like the term "Black IPA" works. Neither make any sense at all technically but then they make perfect sense because you know exactly what they are talking about. I guess another analogy is "Indian" which now is considered acceptable among most Native Americans because its often what they call each other and everyone knows what you mean. It doesnt matter that its origin was a case of mistaken identity any more.

                                                              All that being said, using the term "negro" in anything other than a purely historic context makes no sense at all in 2014. Would you say "I feel like some caucasian food!"? And if so I wonder what you would be talking about... (visions of wonder bread and american cheese sandwiches and some jello dish...)

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                                                              1. re: Insidious Rex
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                                                                GH1618 RE: Insidious Rex May 29, 2014 07:54 PM

                                                                The problem with "African American" today is that there are many Americans who have come here from Africa who are a different societal group than American "blacks." I know a few myself.

                                                                As for "Indian," "Amerind" is a better term. I have some Amerind ancestry myself and prefer that term to "Native American." I was born in the United States, as were my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I have ancestors who were in North America before the United States was formed. I think I am a "native American" even without the little bit of Amerind ancestry.

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                                                                1. re: GH1618
                                                                  ennuisans RE: GH1618 May 29, 2014 11:20 PM

                                                                  I think the better idea is to allow "Amerinds" to decide for themselves what to be called. And since this isn't 1978 I don't think "Amerind" is high on their list.

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                                                                  1. re: ennuisans
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                                                                    GH1618 RE: ennuisans May 30, 2014 06:14 AM

                                                                    I don't understand your "1978" reference. "Amerind" is widely used today, especially professionally, but also by some Amerind groups, along with "Native American" or "Indian." But yes, people may call themselves what they like. The ambiguous terms are usually clear in context.

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                                                  2. re: gaffk
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                                                    Steve RE: gaffk May 14, 2014 07:16 PM

                                                    I am happy to use whatever term you'd like. What do you suggest? You sidestepped any of the questions.

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                                                    1. re: Steve
                                                      gaffk RE: Steve May 15, 2014 02:48 PM

                                                      I usually try to refrain from labels, but if a physical description is necessary, I tend to go African American. As EFGM points out, this may not always be accurate though.

                                                      Oh, and I didn't sidestep anything . . . this is the first I have been back to this board since I posted.

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                                                      1. re: gaffk
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                                                        Steve RE: gaffk May 15, 2014 03:21 PM

                                                        No sweat, the last time I heard the term negro was in the 2008 Broadway musical "Passing Strange, " captured on video superbly by Spike Lee. The entire musical is available on You Tube, and it is a tremendous artistic acheivement of the highest order.

                                                        "Now you don't know me, and I don't know you.
                                                        So let's cut to the chase, the name is Stew."

                                                        Google 'Stew' and 'The Negro Problem.' And watch Passing Strange!

                                                        Here is a short clip:

                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y99GVf...

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                                                  3. re: EatFoodGetMoney
                                                    C. Hamster RE: EatFoodGetMoney May 14, 2014 07:24 PM

                                                    + 1

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                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney
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                                                      ratgirlagogo RE: EatFoodGetMoney May 15, 2014 09:06 PM

                                                      "Negro food writers"

                                                      Hands down the main reason I'm going to follow this thread like a fucking limpet. Personally I'm distressed by the lack of Negresses and Jewesses.

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                                                      1. re: ratgirlagogo
                                                        MplsM ary RE: ratgirlagogo May 15, 2014 10:06 PM

                                                        When I was four i heard "Look! Colored kids ran up on our lawn!" Nobody could hold me back as I wanted to see multicolored (like colors of the rainbow) run over our lawn.

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                                                        1. re: MplsM ary
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                                                          sandylc RE: MplsM ary May 16, 2014 11:21 AM

                                                          As a kid I also wanted to know "what color?" and imagined purple, green, etc.

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                                                          1. re: sandylc
                                                            MplsM ary RE: sandylc Jun 1, 2014 10:27 PM

                                                            I should have explained that the kids were in a car driving over our lawn, which is what made the event extraordinary.

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                                                        2. re: ratgirlagogo
                                                          EWSflash RE: ratgirlagogo Jun 1, 2014 10:26 AM

                                                          Right or wrong, I've always liked the sound of those two words. They sound elegant and patrician.

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                                                        3. re: EatFoodGetMoney
                                                          fldhkybnva RE: EatFoodGetMoney May 16, 2014 04:30 PM

                                                          Thank you! Wow! I can't believe I read that.

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                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                            mcf RE: fldhkybnva May 16, 2014 05:15 PM

                                                            I thought the OP employed it to connote back of the bus status he believes is intact in this case...

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                                                            1. re: mcf
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                                                              Steve RE: mcf May 16, 2014 05:39 PM

                                                              I couldn't have said it better myself.....

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                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                carolinadawg RE: mcf May 16, 2014 05:41 PM

                                                                It's completely inappropriate, regardless.

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                                                                1. re: carolinadawg
                                                                  mcf RE: carolinadawg May 16, 2014 05:43 PM

                                                                  Totally disagree.

                                                                  Intentions and context matter. It was a literary device used by the OP to convey what he sees as an unjust state of affairs.

                                                                  Next we burn the books?

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                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                    carolinadawg RE: mcf May 16, 2014 05:52 PM

                                                                    And disagree you may. I reject your assertion that it's a literary device.

                                                                    And your book burning comment is as ridiculous as the OP.

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                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg
                                                                      mcf RE: carolinadawg May 16, 2014 05:55 PM

                                                                      Some folks here are discussing ideas, beginning with the OP, wrong or right.

                                                                      Books are collections of words. I'm not about to accept you or anyone else in charge of which ones they're allowed to contain.

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                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                        carolinadawg RE: mcf May 16, 2014 05:57 PM

                                                                        I never said anything about what words books are allowed to contain. You are way over the line.

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                                                            GH1618 RE: Steve May 14, 2014 04:41 PM

                                                            The premise here is really over the top. In my opinion, completely unfounded. Racism is systematic discrimination. Differences in racial representation due to other factors is not racist. There is no obligation on anyone's part to achieve demographic balance by quotas. If you think there is actual racial discrimination going on, you should document it, not merely allege it.

                                                            I find this post offensive.

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                                                            1. re: GH1618
                                                              EatFoodGetMoney RE: GH1618 May 14, 2014 04:54 PM

                                                              Perfectly summed up.
                                                              Though I don't find it offensive, just extremely distasteful.

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                                                              1. re: GH1618
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                                                                Steve RE: GH1618 May 14, 2014 07:22 PM

                                                                Quotas? Asking you to name one African-American food critic is a quota?

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                                                                1. re: Steve
                                                                  fldhkybnva RE: Steve May 17, 2014 05:45 AM

                                                                  You could ask this about most fields

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                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                    MGZ RE: fldhkybnva May 17, 2014 05:49 AM

                                                                    "You could ask this about most fields"

                                                                    Precisely. That's why you SHOULD ask this about most fields. Whatever the answers are, nobody's going to find them without asking questions.

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                                                                    1. re: MGZ
                                                                      fldhkybnva RE: MGZ May 17, 2014 05:53 AM

                                                                      And then where do we get? The same answer. Racism, prejudice, socioeconomic differences...it all still exists, it's all still the reason.

                                                                      It's personal but I'll share. I grew up privileged not super wealthy but my parents made sacrifices for me to have what I needed and more, private school, extracurricular activities, personal ballet lessons, an Ivy League education, med school, and now residency at the top ranked hospital in this country. I'm Black and despite comments of being an "Oreo" when I was a kid I was blind to prejudice and racism, didn't think it was a big player. I now know that's naive. It was the only in the past 3 years that I truly realized they are rampant it's just now covert. Sad, but true.

                                                                      It's not the big steps anymore. Black female physician at Hopkins, fine, great achievement but what happens when you get there it's a different story.

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                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                        MGZ RE: fldhkybnva May 17, 2014 06:05 AM

                                                                        Since I can't believe that anyone who is so enlightened about, and in tune with, her own diet can really be that fatalistic (or nihilistic, for that matter), I'll generally submit that we can get enough knowledge to develop, and spread, understanding. Call me Polly, but I'm good with the notion that ignorance can be overcome that way. A lot of folks may need to climb back down the steps to point out that they're only shadows from the fire on the cave walls, but it's gotta be better than doing nothing.

                                                                        Edit: I guess to put it another way, what if you're lying in bed and smell a whiff of smoke? Do you not want to get up and investigate its source? To keep looking to see what must be extinguished? Lie in bed hoping it's nothing without sleeping? Just roll over and resume snoring?

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                                                                        1. re: MGZ
                                                                          fldhkybnva RE: MGZ May 17, 2014 06:14 AM

                                                                          I didn't say it wasn't worth discussing but why is it specific to food critics? It's a general social issue. I agree knowledge is power and generally knowing better allows you to do better. My experience was a possible explanation for why I think it makes sense there are no black food critics perhaps.

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                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                            MGZ RE: fldhkybnva May 17, 2014 06:22 AM

                                                                            I think that the totality of the thread has broadened the OP's inquiry appropriately. I'm guessing, in retrospect, Steve might have worded some things differently. At bottom, though, I believe it's a healthy conversation to have inside this little bubble of ours. At least, I've learned a few things.

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                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                              MGZ RE: fldhkybnva May 18, 2014 08:22 AM

                                                                              fldhky-

                                                                              I think I missed your biographical information during our "conversation" yesterday morning. Though I feel I may have picked up parts of it in other threads. I guess it doesn't change much of what was discussed.

                                                                              One thing that struck me, however, cogent to the totality of this thread, is the mention of Baltimore. While in school, I lived on Paca Street, not far from Lexington Market. I'd shop and dine at the Market often, as would my friends and students at the other schools. That was some time ago, but I have been back several times over the subsequent years. Current students still routinely there to grab lunch, as do my, now well-heeled, classmates.

                                                                              Whenever the inevitable "Best Crabcakes in Baltimore" threads pop-up, Faidley's is, of course, mentioned. Invariably, someone notes that it's in a "bad" neighborhood. Admittedly, it's not the prettiest place in Charm City, but it's certainly not dangerous (unless it has deteriorated significantly in the past year or so, but many of the threads I'm talking about well predate that). To me, that is viable example of the covert, coded, subtle type of racism that sometimes permeates the "foodie" culture (and, as you've suggested, society at large).

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                                                                              1. re: MGZ
                                                                                mcf RE: MGZ May 18, 2014 08:33 AM

                                                                                "To me, that is viable example of the covert, subtle type of racism that will permeate the "foodie" culture (and, as you've suggested, society at large)."

                                                                                Except it's neither covert, nor is it subtle!

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                                                                                1. re: MGZ
                                                                                  fldhkybnva RE: MGZ May 18, 2014 08:39 AM

                                                                                  Unfortunately, your experience is still the reality here. People are encouraged to go elsewhere for the "best crabcakes" for fear of mugging as if that's likely in the middle of a busy market at noon on a weekday. I don't spend much time on that side of town, but when I do it's evident that Lexington Market is not a dangerous place and yet the warnings persist. In fact, I might hesitatingly say that the perimeter of Hopkins Hospital is a more dangerous place to be these days. I feel much more comfortable walking around Lexington Market than even 4 blocks away from the hospital due to recent increases in crime.

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                                                                                  1. re: MGZ
                                                                                    hill food RE: MGZ May 18, 2014 09:44 AM

                                                                                    I pity those who avoid Lexington or even Cross-Street market because a 'scruffy' (uhh - read: blacks or scroungy whites) element might be encountered. heavens! people I haven't been introduced to! and near me!.

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                                                                                    1. re: hill food
                                                                                      fldhkybnva RE: hill food May 18, 2014 10:04 AM

                                                                                      The "scruffy" are quite entertaining. My conversations around Baltimore in the "less than desirable" places are some of the best I've had in the city :)

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                                                                                    2. re: MGZ
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                                                                                      James Cristinian RE: MGZ May 18, 2014 11:00 AM

                                                                                      I was at a Mexican restaurant in Houston and overheard a lady on her phone saying she was "in the hood" like it was some kind of grand adventure. The street is Long Point, probably the most diverse food scene in the city. Yes it's a bit scruffy, but there are excellent examples of Thai, Korean, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Mandarin Chinese, carnicerias and taco trucks everywhere, and I'm sure I'm leaving something out.

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                                                                            2. re: fldhkybnva
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                                                                              Steve RE: fldhkybnva May 17, 2014 08:32 AM

                                                                              "You could ask this about most fields"

                                                                              Oh yes, but this is a Board dedicated to Food Media, so I think it's an appropriate question.

                                                                              Foodies will flock big time to places they are pointed to. One positive mention from the Washington Post, and previously deserted restaurants will have to add seating and start taking reservations.

                                                                              The question is, what is being ignored by the critics?

                                                                              Anyway, I found it interesting that a Chicago newspaper in 2012 asked about where are all the black chefs in that city..... I would go further to talk about entire categories of extant restaurants that are regularly ignored.

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                                                                          2. re: GH1618
                                                                            tcamp RE: GH1618 May 15, 2014 07:57 AM

                                                                            It is a valid question. Why is asking it offensive?

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                                                                            1. re: tcamp
                                                                              MGZ RE: tcamp May 15, 2014 08:03 AM

                                                                              Another valid question.

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                                                                            2. re: GH1618
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                                                                              Shazam RE: GH1618 May 15, 2014 08:31 PM

                                                                              Huh.

                                                                              As an Asian guy with a funny name, I can tell you "systemic discrimination" pretty well doesn't exist.

                                                                              Now personal racism. Yeah. It still exists.

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                                                                              1. re: GH1618
                                                                                mcf RE: GH1618 May 16, 2014 06:03 PM

                                                                                They OP asked questions about race and the foodiesphere for discussion. You know, thinking about stuff.

                                                                                I think that's still allowed here.

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                                                                                1. re: mcf
                                                                                  chowser RE: mcf May 16, 2014 06:16 PM

                                                                                  Although I don't agree w/ the premise, Steve has been open to discussing this issue. I think the worst thing is to shut down a discussion and say it's offensive, period. That closes all doors to potential understanding or correction. There has been good give and take here.

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                                                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                                                    girloftheworld RE: chowser May 16, 2014 06:44 PM

                                                                                    as my mother said to me "just because you are offended doesnt mean you are right. Listen."

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                                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld
                                                                                      MGZ RE: girloftheworld May 17, 2014 05:39 AM

                                                                                      "just because you are offended doesnt mean you are right. Listen."

                                                                                      Wise advice from Mom. Wiser yet, is you following it.

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                                                                                      1. re: MGZ
                                                                                        chowser RE: MGZ May 17, 2014 06:15 AM

                                                                                        Exactly. Listening to the choir can only provide so much enlightenment.

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                                                                                      2. re: girloftheworld
                                                                                        lynnlato RE: girloftheworld May 17, 2014 08:34 AM

                                                                                        AMEN! I am going to remember this. A very important lesson in very few words. Thanks Mom!

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                                                                                      3. re: chowser
                                                                                        PhilD RE: chowser May 16, 2014 06:54 PM

                                                                                        Agree - I thought it was interesting topic. Maybe it would be better to spin it and ask why high end cooking is such a bastion of the white male middle classes as it is probably less sensitive/emotional for some.

                                                                                        The more I think about it the more it strikes me that many cultures/nationalities are underrepresented in top kitchens. Happily it is changing albeit slowly. Japanese chefs are masters of French food opening highly regarded restaurants in Paris and Sydney. Korean chefs seem to be on the rise following David Chang. Indian chefs in the UK regaining prominence. And hopefully Chinese, Thai etc food will move from the cheap and cheerful to high end and mainstream.

                                                                                        African and Caribbean food seems to be gaining traction in some countries especially as we see new immigrants from some of the distressed countries (Somalia etc). That said these are not highly evolved cuisines to state with so maybe that limits their rise somewhat (although it shouldn't limit the aspirations of talent to progress in other kitchens).

                                                                                        The other one is Middle Eastern and North African food. Food from Morocco around to Turkey is all intertwined as a result of the Moors and the Ottoman Empire and there is truly great food waiting to break out. The UK has Yotam Ottelenghi so hopefully he is a sign of further great talent to emerge from that region.

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                                                                                        1. re: PhilD
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                                                                                          Bkeats RE: PhilD May 20, 2014 08:31 AM

                                                                                          I know he's fictional but I do love Gareth Blackstock (don't you love the irony in the name?). I would love to be able to go to Le Chateau Anglais.

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                                                                                    cringle22 RE: Steve May 14, 2014 05:21 PM

                                                                                    I'm white and I love authentic Jamaican jerk chicken, popeyes, and Mr Bojangles. If we removed the 'negroes' from this equation, would the food suddenly become as inauthentic as a women's haircut from a straight guy?

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                                                                                      miss_belle RE: Steve May 14, 2014 05:23 PM

                                                                                      What on earth set you off on this subject all of a sudden?

                                                                                      If you answer my one question I promise to reply to all of yours one by one.

                                                                                      Fair is fair.

                                                                                      And yes, this thread is a train wreck waiting to happen.

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                                                                                      1. re: miss_belle
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                                                                                        Steve RE: miss_belle May 14, 2014 06:58 PM

                                                                                        Curiosity. Where I live in Washington, DC I don't know any black Chowhounds. The press is white. The staff in the Food section seems to be white - judging from their pictures in the paper. When I look at Top lists, I don't see any African-Americans. When people talk about and flock to the latest restaurants, I don't see black customers, black line cooks and no black chefs. The foodie world seems to be devoid of black people.

                                                                                        I am now wondering if there is a single newspaper in this country for which the primary restaurant critic is black. Are there any African or African-American restuarants which make any of the Top lists? I ate a place yesterday with a black hostess, but I think it's the first time in years, honestly. My personal Top Five list (which is in my profile) has a soul food place and a Jamaican place listed, but in all the 'foodie' places I go that I read about in the major newspaper, it's pretty much only white people I see.

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                                                                                        1. re: Steve
                                                                                          Veggo RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:04 PM

                                                                                          Curious, in a city that is just over 50% black. I don't know how to interpret your observations, nor do I see any useful purpose.

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                                                                                          1. re: Veggo
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                                                                                            Steve RE: Veggo May 14, 2014 07:34 PM

                                                                                            Useful purpose: Foodie means business means money. Are black people far less likely to be foodies, employees, reknowned chefs, newspaper critics? How much less likely?

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                                                                                            1. re: Steve
                                                                                              Veggo RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:39 PM

                                                                                              I don't know. There is more to living together in a homogenized world than business and money.

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                                                                                          2. re: Steve
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                                                                                            GH1618 RE: Steve May 14, 2014 08:04 PM

                                                                                            "Soul food" is not likely to be near the top of the list for reasons having nothing to do with race.

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                                                                                            1. re: Steve
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                                                                                              Tom34 RE: Steve May 22, 2014 12:23 PM

                                                                                              Then it seems to me that you and any others that feel slighted need to stop whining and create the positions you say are missing and then the 50% minority population in DC has to support them.

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                                                                                              1. re: Tom34
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                                                                                                Steve RE: Tom34 May 22, 2014 12:41 PM

                                                                                                Stop whining I can do. Create positions, I don't have the power to do that. But I do have the power to observe what is in front of me and post on Chowhound, which is exactly what I am doing now.

                                                                                                You also have power. The power to take stock of what is going on around you and report back. If you see what I am saying is not correct, you can give evidence just as others have done.

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                                                                                                1. re: Steve
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                                                                                                  Tom34 RE: Steve May 22, 2014 02:09 PM

                                                                                                  Market forces are the predominate factor here as in just about every other industry. Just like search engines track user preferences, so does the high tech television industry. They know exactly who is watching what & they know the exact advertising value that the watcher's represent. Bottom line, their decisions are based on maximizing profits. I think you would find a very different makeup in the sports entertainment industry as the viewing audience is very different from that of the foodie entertainment industry.

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                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34
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                                                                                                    Steve RE: Tom34 May 22, 2014 05:22 PM

                                                                                                    Ok, so let's see how "market forces" or "user preferences" get to the crux of what I am talking about:

                                                                                                    There are no African-American food critcs at a major publication. Market forces? People would stop buying the newspaper if they hired one? Would you?

                                                                                                    Next, look into the open kitchen of one of those hot new food places that receives three stars... Would people stop going there if they hired an African-American in the kitchen? Would you?

                                                                                                    You see a restuarant crowded with white poeple, would they stop going if the host stand had an African-American?

                                                                                                    What market forces are you talking about?

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                                                                                          3. babette feasts RE: Steve May 14, 2014 05:24 PM

                                                                                            But all the Yelpers are Asian, so that should count for something.

                                                                                            ;)

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                                                                                            1. hill food RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:38 PM

                                                                                              ehh the full-time post of "food critic" is a vanishing one at most major newspapers. nobody new, whatever their ethnicity, is getting their foot in that door except through the blog route.

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                                                                                              1. re: hill food
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                                                                                                Steve RE: hill food May 14, 2014 08:01 PM

                                                                                                Still there must be a few hundred newspapers/magazines at which there is a food critc and that critic has the ability to draw more people into a place than any single person or blog. In DC, there is the Post (one main critic, a substitute, plus an entire Food section plus a Weekend section), the City Paper, and the Washingtonian - one main critic and several assistants. If you count them up, I am guessing there are twenty people right there.

                                                                                                And I am not against naming a food blogger with a lot of clout....

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                                                                                              2. TonyO RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:43 PM

                                                                                                And to all the ladies out there...ever try getting your nails done by anyone other than of Asian race? Such a racist industry (insert sarcasm.....)

                                                                                                So a certain race has more than likely CHOSEN to not seek employment as food writers and it somehow just MUST be racism? And we wonder why there is such division in this country.......

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                                                                                                1. re: TonyO
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                                                                                                  Steve RE: TonyO May 14, 2014 08:14 PM

                                                                                                  I imagine that African-American beauty parlors exist. Though, I have never heard of a newspaper publishing a top 40 list, so I don't know that your comments are relevant to the discussion. If they did publish a list like that which ignored all the black beauty parlors in a city, then there very well could be some element of racism.

                                                                                                  It could be that African-Americans are simply not interested in food or writing about it.... just like they weren't interested in many other professions for which they are now regularly employed.

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                                                                                                  1. re: Steve
                                                                                                    EatFoodGetMoney RE: Steve May 14, 2014 08:23 PM

                                                                                                    Wait what are you talking about? What professions did black people not used to be interested in? And when?

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                                                                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney
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                                                                                                      Steve RE: EatFoodGetMoney May 14, 2014 08:39 PM

                                                                                                      You seemd to have missed my point..... which involved a level of sarcasm.

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                                                                                                      1. re: Steve
                                                                                                        EatFoodGetMoney RE: Steve May 14, 2014 08:49 PM

                                                                                                        I see, sometimes hard to tell online.
                                                                                                        In any case I see plenty of black people in Seattle, as diners, service staff, cooks, etc.

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                                                                                                        1. re: Steve
                                                                                                          TonyO RE: Steve May 15, 2014 01:06 PM

                                                                                                          I think your point is that you are looking for someone to blame for YOUR viewpoint involving a shortage of diversity in the food writing world...........ZERO evidence of any racism but I guess your point is simply the lack of positions filled by a certain group must be racism....so maybe a few of the national newspapers that are still in publication should run a help wanted ad for food writers that says only African - Americans should apply....

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                                                                                                          1. re: TonyO
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                                                                                                            Steve RE: TonyO May 15, 2014 01:27 PM

                                                                                                            There are several histories going on here.

                                                                                                            One is the history of upperclass restaurants employing only white male waiters and hosts. Like casting a movie. My question is: now that the old school jacket and ties have been replaced by industrial chic, are restaurants that are trying to lure in their primarily white, young, hip crowds also looking for their staff to reflect the customers?

                                                                                                            The other history is that food journaists don't always start off as restuarant critics. They are first and foremost journalists who are then given that assignment. Many of them didn't start looking at that as a career until later. Who is handing them the keys to the car and why?

                                                                                                            The other history is publications and those critics patterning a star system from Michelin Guide. Extra points for crystal stemware and Euro paradigms that don't jive with eating 'ethnic' food for which cultural norms and accepted ideas of quality are demonstrably different.

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                                                                                                        Indy 67 RE: Steve May 16, 2014 11:26 AM

                                                                                                        Whoops! You must not know anyone who gets her nails done since TonyO's point zoomed right past you. About 98% of the people working in the pedicure and manicure field are Asian with a particular emphasis on Thai and Vietnamese technicians. Your reply (I imagine African-American beauty parlors exist) is a complete non-sequitur.

                                                                                                        As for the substance of your statement, a quick Google search would have turned up a link to the site Afrohair.com. This site lists 16 salons in Washington, DC proper and 12 in N. VA.

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                                                                                                          Steve RE: Indy 67 May 16, 2014 11:33 AM

                                                                                                          I will admit serious ignorance about where to get my nails done. I am still waiting for my appointment with Madge.

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                                                                                                            Indy 67 RE: Steve May 16, 2014 12:36 PM

                                                                                                            Write flip remarks if it pleases you.

                                                                                                            TonyO made a valid point about another service industry, one that contradicts your claim about the restaurant industry. I supplied some facts that backed up his point. I notice that you sidestepped the substance of either one of our posts and indulged in a quip.

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                                                                                                              Steve RE: Indy 67 May 19, 2014 06:29 PM

                                                                                                              Ok, so I just saw your post, I apologize for not responding sooner.

                                                                                                              I am not sure how far the nails/restaurant analogy goes.

                                                                                                              I have raised several questions about the Foodiesphere, and I am willing to admit I don't have all the answers.

                                                                                                              One of my key points (the most crucial I would say) is that a restaurant critic for a major newspaper has the unusual and enviable position of pointing the critical finger at a restaurant, and hundreds if not thousands will flock to that restuarant. I've seen it happen.

                                                                                                              i do not know if there is this similarity in the nail salon industry. Any other analogy derived from an anlysis of these two 'service industries' would be flawed if this is not the case.... at least regarding this thread which comes under the heading of Food Media.

                                                                                                              If you want to discuss Nail Salon Media, then be my guest.

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                                                                                                          heavysnaxx RE: Steve May 24, 2014 05:11 PM

                                                                                                          Steve, there most certainly are A-A beauty parlors (salons, to be more accurate). It's such an established "thing" that when I've done various types of community outreach, we know salons are a great way to connect with A-A women.

                                                                                                          I get your point about barriers in the mainstream media but have you found any reporting/commentary about this issue in A-A media outlets?

                                                                                                          I also really think you're not factoring economic status into your question enough. It's not that it negates the existence of racism. You have to look at who has the resources to eat out at the press-worthy restaurants, who can survive on a freelancer's income (which is what many print food-writers are) while they work up to the mainstream press's editorial positions, and basically what community has financial clout.

                                                                                                          That's my take, anyway.

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                                                                                                            Steve RE: heavysnaxx May 24, 2014 06:34 PM

                                                                                                            Good points all. (And yeah, salons are prevalent in all neighborhoods of DC)

                                                                                                            One of the things that got me started was walking down a couple of neighborhoods in DC. It's not that the African-Americans weren't there, or that they weren't eating out. But a few places that get the brunt of the 'foodie' attention were like mini 'black free zones.' And I don't think there was some big socio-economic factor. The place I posted a photo of is a fairly inexpensive burger and bbq joint.

                                                                                                            A vast majority of the Chowhound meals I organize are to inexpensive places. I want all people to feel welcome, and I try to write about all kinds of food with no bias. But we wind up anyway like our own little Klan meeting - well this is not exactly the case because in my decade long history of this we've had two Muslim Chowhounds.... and a vegetarian!

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                                                                                                      3. girloftheworld RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:47 PM

                                                                                                        Wow.I had to double check to make sure this wasnt a Troll Account... but nope it isnt... But seriously.
                                                                                                        Marcus Samulson?
                                                                                                        Tre Wilcox?
                                                                                                        Michale Twitty?
                                                                                                        Verta Mae Grosnover?

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                                                                                                          Steve RE: girloftheworld May 14, 2014 08:31 PM

                                                                                                          Tre Wilcox is a Dallas chef who acheived a great deal of acclaim from the press, so that's very good to note. That makes me feel better.

                                                                                                          Marcus Samuelsson (correct spelling) has a place called Red Rooster Harlem which has also acheived great success. Like Wilcox, he is now a celebrity... but I still wonder how many stars did it get from the NY Times?

                                                                                                          All this doesn't address the question of the press itself. Sure, I can name a bunch of black Hollywood stars: Morgan, Laurence, Denzel, Wesley, Samuel.... but it doesn't mean there is no racism in Hollywood.

                                                                                                          I still see a foodie world, from the kitchen to the front of house to the press.... that is tremendously white despite a few stars that have risen.

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                                                                                                            small h RE: Steve May 15, 2014 05:23 AM

                                                                                                            Marcus Samuelsson got 3 stars from the NYT when he was at Aquavit. I realize you're mostly just interested in stirring things up, but you're not doing yourself any favors by ignoring facts that run counter to your premise.

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                                                                                                              Steve RE: small h May 15, 2014 07:03 AM

                                                                                                              I asked, and you gave me an answer. Thank you. I am willing to readily admit I don't know, except for what I see what is right in front of me. And I see a foodie world that is shockingly devoid of black people.

                                                                                                              Like I made with my Hoillywood analogy, it's great that a few stars have risen to the top. But that alone doesn't give a true asessment of an industry.

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                                                                                                                ratgirlagogo RE: Steve May 15, 2014 09:13 PM

                                                                                                                Marcus Samuelsson also won season two of Top Chef Masters, a pretty high-profile gig. Seriously you didn't know this? Potrzebie, dude.

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                                                                                                                  Steve RE: ratgirlagogo May 16, 2014 04:03 AM

                                                                                                                  So is he now the Denzel of Cheftestants?

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                                                                                                                    lynnlato RE: ratgirlagogo May 16, 2014 05:10 AM

                                                                                                                    Marcus Samuelsson is also a James Beard winner. I have his cookbook, The Soul of A New Cuisine, for which he won the Best International Cookbook Award. he also won Best Chef NYC 2003.

                                                                                                                    This is a very interesting PBS analysis of the the topic, and is titled Where are the black chefs? a good read:

                                                                                                                    http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/expl...

                                                                                                                    Also interesting, is a culinary magazine and website called Cuisine Noir, whose mission it is to "help increase the visibility of blacks in the culinary industry among mainstream media, organizations and corporations." http://www.cuisinenoirmag.com/

                                                                                                                    There's no question that around the world the industry is lacking in black chefs, especially at the higher levels. Women are a bit scarce as well, although not to the same degree. Progress moves ever so slowly.

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                                                                                                                    Chatsworth RE: Steve May 16, 2014 07:43 AM

                                                                                                                    Funny that you go out of your way to correct someone's spelling but manage to put "Hoillywood" in your own post.

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                                                                                                                      mcf RE: Chatsworth May 16, 2014 09:46 AM

                                                                                                                      Internet karma. It never fails if you flame for spelling or grammar.

                                                                                                                      Seems fair.

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                                                                                                                        Steve RE: Chatsworth May 16, 2014 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                        I wasn't pointing out a typo, just trying be helpful in case others wanted to search more on the subject. Typos I leave laone.

                                                                                                                        (JK, I did that one on purpose.)

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                                                                                                                          joonjoon RE: Steve May 16, 2014 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                          Well this might help your argument...Samuelsson is like Swedish African American so he is probably immune to racism.

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                                                                                                                            mcf RE: joonjoon May 16, 2014 03:19 PM

                                                                                                                            Swedish Ethiopian American to be exact, right?

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                                                                                                                              Bellachefa RE: mcf May 16, 2014 08:03 PM

                                                                                                                              Although he has cooked for the White House, and has resided in the US for many years, I have not heard that he is an American citizen. I think he is Kenyan Swedish.

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                                                                                                                                James Cristinian RE: Bellachefa May 16, 2014 08:17 PM

                                                                                                                                I agree with you Bellachefa. I did a search earlier about his citizenship and drew blanks. All these hyphens are driving me crazy.

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                                                                                                                                  mcf RE: Bellachefa May 17, 2014 08:00 AM

                                                                                                                                  According to reviews and comments wrt "New American Table," he was an American citizen by 2009.

                                                                                                                                  Here's early history from his wiki: "Kassahun Tsegie was born in 1970 in Ethiopia. His mother died in a tuberculosis epidemic when he was three years old. He and his elder sister, Fantaye,[3] were subsequently adopted by Ann Marie and Lennart Samuelsson, a homemaker and a geologist, respectively, who lived in Göteborg, Sweden. The siblings' names were changed to Marcus and Linda Samuelsson. They also have an adopted sister, Anna Samuelsson. Samuelsson's biological father, Tsegie, is an Ethiopian Orthodox Church priest and father of eight of the chef's half-siblings; he still lives in the Ethiopian village where Samuelsson was born."

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                                                                                                                                ChefJune RE: joonjoon May 20, 2014 01:38 PM

                                                                                                                                <Samuelsson is like Swedish African American so he is probably immune to racism>

                                                                                                                                Don't count on it. And he is not "like" anything. He is an American who was born in Ethiopia (not Kenya). and adopted and raised in Sweden. He trained as a chef in Sweden and all over Europe.

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                                                                                                                      kariin RE: girloftheworld May 15, 2014 08:03 PM

                                                                                                                      Shout out to girloftheworld !! A tri-fecta (Marcu, Michael and VertaMae) - and thanks for adding Tre - I forgot him.
                                                                                                                      love your list. How do you know Verta?

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                                                                                                                        girloftheworld RE: kariin May 15, 2014 10:12 PM

                                                                                                                        I was emailing back andfourth with Chef Twitty and he introduced me to her work.

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                                                                                                                    3. greygarious RE: Steve May 14, 2014 07:52 PM

                                                                                                                      I am 60+, spent my childhood on Long Island, went to college in western NY, and ever since have lived in Boston suburbs. All along, I've lived where almost everyone else is white, as am I. Racial demographics were never a consideration one way or another, and I think this is the same experience as many other older Americans living their lives in the northern American states. Whether or not racism has played a role in who owns/works in local businesses in areas where I've lived, I have no idea.

                                                                                                                      It's true that there's a dearth of prominent black chefs. Leah Chase and Marcus Samuelsson come to mind. B. Smith had a successful syndicated home entertaining show, in which she was positioned as the black Martha Stewart. There are a number of leading food anthropologists, like Vertamae Grosvenor, who are black. PBS Create has a series filmed at finals in an annual seafood competition for professional chefs and many of the (almost all male) contestants are black. There's no shortage of black businesses in BBQ contests.

                                                                                                                      If you're looking for bigotry, the top echelon of chefs is composed overwhelmingly of white men. If there's any deliberate holding back of aspirants to their lofty ranks, it's also being applied to women of any and all races, and to non-white men other than blacks.

                                                                                                                      A brief observation re terminology: when I was little and in my early teens, Negro was an accepted term that was not insulting. Witness the speeches and writings of Martin Luther King. By the time I was in college, the term "black" was up and coming. It gave me pause since while not as bad as THE "N" word, I had known it to convey prejudice on the part of the user. Took me a few years to utter it without feeling awkward. Then "African-American" came into vogue. This one frustrated me, and still does. Replacing a single syllable with a 7-syllable synonym made no sense to me. If bullwarks of apartheid like Botha or deClerq moved from South Africa to the US, they'd be African-Americans, as Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American. Nelson Mandela was African but not American. Australian aboriginal people? Black, not African, not American.

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                                                                                                                        Steve RE: greygarious May 14, 2014 08:50 PM

                                                                                                                        In Washington, DC, there are a lot of black people living in the area temporarily from other countries, so I can't assume if I see a black person that they are African-American or Anything-American. The could be Trini, Jamaican, Nigerian, Kenyan, French ....

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                                                                                                                          greygarious RE: Steve May 14, 2014 11:41 PM

                                                                                                                          A perfect example of why I think that, as a designation of race, African-American is not a good choice of terminology.

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                                                                                                                          greygarious RE: greygarious May 17, 2014 12:11 PM

                                                                                                                          Just listening to Radiolab, where they gave examples of wherein politically-correct computerized redaction of publications results in folly. In one, when a politically conservative organization reprinted an article on athlete Tyson Gay, the name appeared as Tyson Homosexual. Elsewhere, a report said economic policy changes in Massachusetts were intended to put the state "back in the African-American".

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                                                                                                                            chowser RE: greygarious May 17, 2014 12:24 PM

                                                                                                                            People need to learn not to depend on auto-correct, whether it's for political correctness or not. My husband recently texted me, "I booked the girl for Saturday night." Um, okay.

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                                                                                                                              tcamp RE: chowser May 17, 2014 01:07 PM

                                                                                                                              Hah, my spouse does that too. Most recently, "no seltzer at Hunks Costco." Huh?

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                                                                                                                        3. lamb_da_calculus RE: Steve May 14, 2014 08:22 PM

                                                                                                                          "Are African or Jamaican restaurants touted with gusto?"

                                                                                                                          Not usually, but I think it's for the same reason that Indian places aren't really touted either. Namely, these cuisines don't feature a lot of food that's subtle/clean/elegant. I'm not saying they're worse. Not at all. I'm first-generation Indian-American and I like Indian food, but the cuisine doesn't have a great history of "showcasing ingredients" and it's therefore harder to talk about. Seriously, think about a really good Indian dish you like and try to describe it. It's probably got so many different spices that it's hard to convey accurately. Contrast this with something like sushi, which at the highest end gets talked about in hushed tones because it's basically simple (although that's not at all to say that it's easy).

                                                                                                                          Long story short, I think cuisines that rely on heavy use of spices rather than showcasing the basic flavors of constituent ingredients seem to get shafted when it comes to writing about how good something tastes, at least in part because it's just easier (and kinder to the writer's ego) to say "this dish captured the essence of morels and played beautifully against the ramps, what skillful simplicity" than "there were like a dozen spices that worked well together, I think, because I couldn't really pick them apart, but trust me they were good".

                                                                                                                          Related to this topic, has anyone ever seen a Michelin-starred restaurant that focuses on African food? I know there are at least a couple in SF and NY that do Indian and Middle-Eastern but I don't think I've ever seen anything African.

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                                                                                                                            EatFoodGetMoney RE: lamb_da_calculus May 14, 2014 08:52 PM

                                                                                                                            I think this is finally starting to change, and I'm crazy stoked about it. Those cuisines definitely deserve some more respect. I think that there will finally be various levels of sophistication and quality with all types of cuisine in the near future.

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                                                                                                                              EatFoodGetMoney RE: lamb_da_calculus May 14, 2014 08:53 PM

                                                                                                                              Hey whoa, why did a bunch of my posts get removed?

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                                                                                                                                Steve RE: lamb_da_calculus May 14, 2014 09:04 PM

                                                                                                                                Indian cuisine is commonly listed along with French and Chinese as the three most important and influential cuisines of the world. If Indian restuarants do not get their due in the US it is because either they are not doing a good job of represenitng the cuisine or racism.

                                                                                                                                I am comfortable in saying that I know a lot of French restaurants over the years that have gotten big play from the press even though they paled in comparison to the cuisine in France. So I do believe that racism plays a big part in it.

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                                                                                                                                  EatFoodGetMoney RE: Steve May 14, 2014 09:15 PM

                                                                                                                                  You've got to be kidding, not everything is due to racism man.

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                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: EatFoodGetMoney May 14, 2014 09:34 PM

                                                                                                                                    So what about Hollywood.... do you think there is no racism in Hollywood?

                                                                                                                                    Do you not see racism in how people choose to spend their money or employ dining room staff?

                                                                                                                                    I mean, for years it was assumed that at an elegant restaurant the waiter and maitre d' would be white males.

                                                                                                                                    Is that mostly still true today?

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                                                                                                                                    lamb_da_calculus RE: Steve May 14, 2014 09:21 PM

                                                                                                                                    Importance and influence, however you want to define those, aren't the same as getting fawned over by the same people who coronate noma, el bulli, fat duck, etc. It's probably true that way more people can tell you what chana masala is like than can explain cassoulet or coq au vin, but Indian food is pretty underrepresented at the "top" of the food world.

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                                                                                                                                      Steve RE: lamb_da_calculus May 14, 2014 09:36 PM

                                                                                                                                      I think Indian cuisine is as sophisticated as any.

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                                                                                                                                  3. re: lamb_da_calculus
                                                                                                                                    PhilD RE: lamb_da_calculus May 15, 2014 12:33 AM

                                                                                                                                    Lamb - Its interesting that Indian food is recognised in the UK.

                                                                                                                                    Quite a few Indian restaurants now have Michelin stars and the top indian chefs are regulars on cooking shows and are recognised names.

                                                                                                                                    There are good writers/bloggers who discuss Indian food and lots of national critics review the restaurants. Then there is Fay Maschler, who was born in India is the long standing food critic (since 1972) on the London Evening Standard.

                                                                                                                                    And Madhur Jaffrey and Anjum Anand are much loved cooks who has had a few TV series and has taught many Brits the wonders of Indian food.

                                                                                                                                    Why is Indian food so much further forward in the UK than US. I suspect its nothing more than a factor of time. The big waves of Indian immigration to the UK started in the '60's and the community is now well established. I believe Indian immigration to the US really only accelerated in the last decade so hopefully lots of positive changes to look forward to.

                                                                                                                                    The one irritant I see is a belief amongst some "foodies" that Indian and other styles of "ethnic" food (I hate that term) can only be good if very cheap and served in basic restaurants. If its posh Indian it is denigrated as not being authentic or real. Indian restaurants with Michelin stars are thought to have sold out etc etc.

                                                                                                                                    I actually find that "food warrior" attitude really strange, it seems these foods are only good if you need a sense of adventure to try them, and maybe it sub-conciously pigeon holes the chefs . Maybe this is one of the reasons these chefs don't rise to get the accolades they deserve....?

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                                                                                                                                      lamb_da_calculus RE: PhilD May 15, 2014 12:06 PM

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the elaborate response, I'd been aware that Indian food is better-represented in the U.K. than in the U.S. but not to the degree that you describe. Your point about authentic/cheap/good being synonymous to many foodies when it comes to many non-European cuisines is also appreciated. I think there is a bit of prejudice to this attitude. Part of it is just a sense of adventure and wanting to find a diamond in the rough - something that's pretty widespread on Chowhound and not itself a bad thing - and part of it is perhaps a bit of prejudice about what cuisines can (French, Japanese, Italian) and can't (most southeast Asian, African, eastern Europe, etc.) be "nice".

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                                                                                                                                        ratgirlagogo RE: PhilD May 15, 2014 09:18 PM

                                                                                                                                        There has been more Indian immigration into the UK than the US because the Indians are citizens of the commonwealth. Same reason the Jamaicans and the HK Chinese went there. Indian food is the most popular food in the UK in recent years, more than fish and chips or chinese or pizza or anything.

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                                                                                                                                          PhilD RE: ratgirlagogo May 15, 2014 10:11 PM

                                                                                                                                          Mostly very true. But its changing with Indians now emigrating back "home" to India in order to take advantage of the economic success there. And the migration to the US has increased, no doubt on the back of the IT industry and outsourcing i.e. you can work for IBM in India which puts you in a good position to apply to IT jobs in the US.

                                                                                                                                          Not 100% certain Indian food is more popular than British food in the UK. I know Chicken Tikka Masala is often voted favourite dish and it tops the supermarkets ready meals but thats not quite the same.

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                                                                                                                                    2. cowboyardee RE: Steve May 14, 2014 09:03 PM

                                                                                                                                      If you want to have a serious and thoughtful discussion of why there are no famous black food critics and very few high-profile black chefs, alleging racism right off the bat is probably not the wisest strategy.

                                                                                                                                      Also of note, why are there so few high-profile latino chefs, when it's well known that the restaurant industry in the US relies heavily on latino cooks?

                                                                                                                                      The truth probably has to do with a complex interplay between socio-economic factors within minority groups, cultural values within minority groups, and biases (many of them subconscious) that play out with investors and restauranteurs and the target market of fine dining establishments (foodies).

                                                                                                                                      But statements like:
                                                                                                                                      "If you are a racist but don't want to join the KKK, is becoming a foodie the next best thing?"
                                                                                                                                      ... are just inflammatory and simplistic.

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                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: cowboyardee May 14, 2014 09:15 PM

                                                                                                                                        I meant that to showcase that foodie groups seem to be a 'black-free' zone. I have been organizing Chowhound group meals for about ten years now, and I have met upward of 100 Chowhounds, and not a single one of them is black. If I were to take a photo of the myriad of restaurants opening up on 14th St right now - a traditionally African-American neighborhood - I am not sure a single black person would wind up in any of the photos. Startlingly few of the employees are black.

                                                                                                                                        I have a photo to add: This is an outdoor restaurant on 14th street that serves bbq. BBQ! 14th street, one of the most important streets of African-American life in a city that is at least 50% black:

                                                                                                                                         
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                                                                                                                                          kpaxonite RE: Steve May 15, 2014 03:39 PM

                                                                                                                                          Just because the chowhounds you met arent black doesnt mean its due to racism. There is a huge leap between saying there are less black people on CH than whites and saying that the reason there are less is racism.

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                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: kpaxonite May 15, 2014 03:59 PM

                                                                                                                                            Chowhound membership is definitely not a question of racism. It is completely voluntary, free, and nobody is discouraged or in anyway denied membership by the color of their skin. I invite all-comers to the Chowhound meals I organize (these meals are in no way condoned by the website.) It's simply that I have met all these people through Chowhound.

                                                                                                                                            However, if 'foodie' culture is 99% devoid of blacks, does that lead to fewer hires, from journalism to kitchen staff to front-of-house?

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                                                                                                                                              ennuisans RE: Steve May 15, 2014 04:26 PM

                                                                                                                                              I think "foodie" is too big an umbrella here. You have cooks/chefs, who make food for a living. You have food critics, who eat food for a living. And you have the casual blogger/foodie/chowhound who make and eat food for entertainment. Each path has different challenges and motivations, and a white majority in any one is for different reasons than the others.

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                                                                                                                                                lynnlato RE: Steve May 16, 2014 05:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                Perhaps there have been fewer blacks that wanted to work in professional kitchens. In one of the links I posted above (PBS analysis of black chefs) one of the perceptions that emerged was that, in the black community, working in professional kitchens may be viewed as "degrading or not as prestigious as other fields of work".

                                                                                                                                                Again, here is the link: http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/expl...

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                                                                                                                                                  Steve RE: lynnlato May 16, 2014 05:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                  That is a wonderful link, thanks for posting. For those of us too lazy to explore links (I include myself in this category):

                                                                                                                                                  In 2012, the Chicago Tribune posed a simple yet thought-provoking question to its readers: "Where are the Black chefs?"

                                                                                                                                                  So I am not the only one wondering - i am not crazy - though there is contradictary evidence on this last point.

                                                                                                                                                  The difference is that I am wondering not just about chefs - who are the masters of the kitchen- but the entire industry, starting with restaurant critics. They follow a Euro-generated star system and give extra points for Euro paradigms in food and service. They come into the job with serious foodie prejudices and are dismissive of food unless it is prepared in an way that the Euro tastebuds approve.

                                                                                                                                                  There is a some talk about Indian cooking on this thread like it is a monolithic cuisine, but what about a Bengali family-style restaurant? Would their use of oil be a deal killer for a Eurocentric restaurant critic? In other words, mimic Euro paradigms and you do have a chance, but prepare the food as you might normally prepare it, and get ignored?

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                                                                                                                                          2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                            lamb_da_calculus RE: cowboyardee May 14, 2014 09:28 PM

                                                                                                                                            A (possibly, definitely not intentionally) loaded question: at the really high end is the reliance on latino cooks less pronounced? As far as I know it's pretty true that Latinos do a lot of the cooking at most restaurants, but whenever I watch videos that peek inside the kitchens at your Alineas and Per Ses and whatever the kitchens seem pretty white. This might go some way toward explaining the lower number of high-profile latino chefs. I might be wrong about this, nor do I have a reason for why it might be the case.

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: lamb_da_calculus
                                                                                                                                              cowboyardee RE: lamb_da_calculus May 15, 2014 10:22 AM

                                                                                                                                              The stage system for fine dining decidedly favors hiring cooks with a higher degree of economic freedom.

                                                                                                                                              For those who don't know, the main way you get into cooking for fine dining restaurants comes from working in other fine dining restaurants... which most people do by working for free (staging) in said restaurants. Obviously, this excludes most people who can't afford to move around and work for free until they have a resume together.

                                                                                                                                              Of course, I don't mean to imply that all minorities can't afford to participate in this kind of job market or that all white people can. There may well be other factors at play dictating how financially well-to-do minorities are accepted in the business or how likely they are to pick a fine dining career in the first place. But trading wealth for opportunity and ultimately more wealth is a hallmark of the American economy, and not just in the restaurant business. It's just particularly blatant in fine dining, and it excludes a lot of people..

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                lamb_da_calculus RE: cowboyardee May 15, 2014 12:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                I was going to make this argument but didn't know enough about staging to follow it through. It seems to me that the staging system requires its participants to either have an outside source of income or be willing to work another additional job (which probably isn't realistic, or at least would be very difficult). I would love to see data on the demographics of stagiers, although I'm pretty sure that doesn't exist.

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                                                                                                                                          3. westsidegal RE: Steve May 14, 2014 09:31 PM

                                                                                                                                            in los angeles, ethiopian restaurants are touted with gusto. there even is a section of town that is called "little ethiopia." there are "regular" ethiopian restaurtants, there is a vegan ethiopian restaurant, etc.

                                                                                                                                            also, you could easily start a riot over which mexican restaurant served the best xxxxx.

                                                                                                                                            the various koreatown restaurants are discussed vociferously on a regular basis.

                                                                                                                                            the tremendous number of chinese restaurants in the SGV are a source of INCESSANT discussion.

                                                                                                                                            indian food, in Los Angeles, and in the wider LA basin is also a topic that gets discussed every few days.

                                                                                                                                            truly, i don't know what you're talking about.

                                                                                                                                            maybe move to los angeles?

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                                                                                                                                              Steve RE: westsidegal May 14, 2014 11:04 PM

                                                                                                                                              Maybe, but are any of those Ethiopian restaurants serving food that is rated highly by the LA Times? And what about African-American food? Rumor has it there are quite few black people in LA. Are there any soul food restaurants in the LA Times Top FIfty or whatever list they come up with? When I say soul food, it doesn't have to be a dive, but even a medium-to-upscale place?

                                                                                                                                              And of the trendy, upscale places, how common is it to find a black host or hostess? A waiter?

                                                                                                                                              The LA Board on Chowhound is definitely the most active 'old-style' Board, so I am already familiar with the fact that you folks rock.

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                                                                                                                                                JAB RE: Steve May 15, 2014 09:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                Not only do we rock, we aren't reliant on the LA Times. By the way, isn't this one of DC's most well known restaurants:

                                                                                                                                                http://benschilibowl.com/

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                                                                                                                                                  Steve RE: JAB May 15, 2014 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Ben's Chili Bowl is indeed DC's most famous restaurant. I had my kids take me their for Father's Day once, and I have been there many, many times. However, I tell visiing Chowhounds to go to Oohhs and Aahhs instead if they really are interested in great food.

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                                                                                                                                                  Savour RE: Steve May 15, 2014 10:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                  I just did a review of the last LA Times 101 restaurants list and about 40% were "ethnic" restaurants - a big part of that Asian and Latino, but there is a barbecue place and and an Ethiopian place as well. It's not perfect, but I would say the LA Times is better than most.

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                                                                                                                                                  laliz RE: westsidegal May 20, 2014 01:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                  this is what I was thinking. what is he/she talking about? One of the greatest blessings of lving in southern California (I just returned last night from a trip to Minnesota) is our diversity of available foods. All ethnicities, Little Tokyo, Little Saigon, Thai Town, etc. East Los Angeles is the second largest Mexican populated city, Mexico City being first.
                                                                                                                                                  No shortage of black food here. I keep thinking "Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch" I don't know if its black or white owned, but the fried chicken is the best, and I met Little Richard there once.

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                                                                                                                                                  blueways RE: Steve May 14, 2014 11:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Chow hound was the one place in this social media sphere where I felt like I didn't have to talk or defend myself for being black. I could *black out* and just talk about spatchcocking a chicken. You ruined it. Signed a black foodie.

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                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: blueways May 15, 2014 07:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Sorry 'bout that. If I saw black people being hired at all the trendy 'foodie' restaurants that crop up on a daily basis in DC, I might not have said anything. I can only think of one place that I've been recently - and it surprised me. That's what made me post.

                                                                                                                                                    I am willing to admit this is unscientific, but it does have a traditional basis in the restaurant industry. Upper end restaurants have long been the bastion of all-white hiring practices.

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                                                                                                                                                      kariin RE: Steve May 15, 2014 08:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                      "If I saw black people being hired at all the trendy 'foodie' restaurants that crop up on a daily basis in DC, I might not have said anything. I can only think of one place that I've been recently - and it surprised me. That's what made me post."

                                                                                                                                                      oh, got it now....'trendy, 'foodie' covers it for you. There's a whole bigger world. Black (and Latino and Asian...) people aren't waiting for the 'foodie' world to acknowledge they exist. They're out doing it. Eventually the hip-cuisine/foodie world will catch up.
                                                                                                                                                      maybe you too.

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                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: kariin May 19, 2014 09:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                        I am constantly exploring in Washington DC and environs. I go to places that I hear about on Chowhound, and I explore on my own to places and neighborhoods that receive no fanfare. If I see a place I've never heard of, I'll at least take a peak in or look it up if I'm not at meal time.

                                                                                                                                                        If you have any suggestions in the DC area, I'd be happy to hear about them.

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                                                                                                                                                  2. carolinadawg RE: Steve May 15, 2014 04:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Lots of prominent and highly touted African American chefs and restaurant owners here in NC. I think your premise is silly.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg
                                                                                                                                                      MGZ RE: carolinadawg May 15, 2014 06:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                      I'm not sure I get the leap from (assuming by "lots" you mean close to 1 in 5) proportional minority restaurant ownership to the conclusion that considering the existence of racism in, and around, the restaurant industry is "silly". Does it matter where the restaurants are in the State? The type of food offered and price points? In my experience, Charlotte's trendy restaurant scene does not seem to mirror the population very well - but that's just more anecdotal evidence.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                        carolinadawg RE: MGZ May 15, 2014 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                        It's silly because I don't care, and 99% of the time don't know, the race, gender, age, national origin or sexual orientation of the chef or owner of the restaurants I frequent, yet off the top of my head I could name a half dozen or more that I do know are owned and operated by African Americans.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: carolinadawg
                                                                                                                                                          MGZ RE: carolinadawg May 15, 2014 10:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                          The fact that you chose to respond to the thread belies the notion that you don't care. The substance of what you chose to respond suggests you simply just don't want to know.

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                                                                                                                                                            carolinadawg RE: MGZ May 15, 2014 01:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I said I don't care about the race of the chef or owner of the restaurants I eat in, meaning if they are white, black, green or purple it doesn't impact me in any way. My posting on this thread doesn't negate, change or impact that in any way. I do disagree with the notion that some sort of systemic racism is present in the restaurant business that excludes African Americans from working in, or owning, restaurants, which seems to be one of the points the OP is postulating.

                                                                                                                                                            No idea what you are attempting to get at with your last sentence. I guess your just trolling me. Sorry, won't work.

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: carolinadawg
                                                                                                                                                              MGZ RE: carolinadawg May 15, 2014 02:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Now come on, dawg. Surely you don't respond to everything you don't understand with accusations and vitriol? I may be an arrogant, long-winded ass with a drinking problem (after all, I've earned all of that), but I'm no troll.

                                                                                                                                                              If you'll allow me to elaborate, and resolve the misunderstanding borne out of my terseness?

                                                                                                                                                              You labeled the premise "silly" and explained it by noting the fact that you "don't care". My apologies, but I took that to mean you don't care about the premise. I now understand that you don't care about the race or ethnicity of the restaurants' owners, staff, etc. That's nobel, you're not a racist.

                                                                                                                                                              The difficulty arises when you then make the leap from "I am not a racist" and personal observation in a limited geographic area to the conclusion that there is "no systemic racism . . . that excludes . . . ." It is the conclusion you are comfortable with, hell it may even be a correct one, but it is predicated upon a leap. Leaving aside the fact that that is considered a "classic fallacy", it's also a way of shutting down the inquiry. Your belief is your belief. Fine. In the end, however, "you simply just don't want to know".

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                carolinadawg RE: MGZ May 15, 2014 02:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                No, you don't get to tell me what I think, or what I want to know.

                                                                                                                                                                So put the words "in my experience and in my opinion" in front of what I said, and we'll be all good. That should be a given in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                Lets end it now, ok?

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                                                                                                                                                                Steve RE: carolinadawg May 15, 2014 03:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                The systemic racism enters the field like it does in the movies. Is a movie using color-blind casting? Then there is probably no racism involved and you'll see it on the screen.

                                                                                                                                                                But most Hollywood movies do not use color-blind casting policies, and aside from a few box-office stars, black actors are finding surprisingly little work in the movies.

                                                                                                                                                                A lot of jobs in the 'real world' are cast, almost as you would a movie. If you have in mind the sort of person that would fit the job, you are more likely to 'cast' that individual. Does not mean you hate black people or you are 'excluding' them (a rather severe standard) , but it does mean you are more likely to hire based on a pre-conceived notion.

                                                                                                                                                                That goes for food critics especially.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                  carolinadawg RE: Steve May 15, 2014 03:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Keep chasing that boogeyman, Steve, keep chasing.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: carolinadawg May 15, 2014 04:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    i don't mind a real argument. So do you have an issue with color-blind casting, or do you think that it only applies to movies and not in the restaurant world? I am not clear.

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                                                                                                                                                                      hill food RE: Steve May 15, 2014 06:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      I can't help but feel the analogy to the film industry is not an apt one.

                                                                                                                                                                      film is a largely visual medium and a highly commercial one, casting follows the dollar not the ideal. In the food world, nobody in their right mind gives a crap what anyone's skin color is from the front door to the back, seated or serving, as long as the food and service are good.

                                                                                                                                                                      a better analogy would be architecture. there are plenty of black people in engineering and construction (on the so-called 'white-collar' side) but very few designing. in school there were maybe 2 in my year (out of about 120) and 1 switched to mechanical engineering as it would eventually pay better and that dep't wasn't a bunch of maniacs - can't say as I blamed her, but those numbers weren't due to acceptance policies or internal exclusions.

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                                                                                                                                                      2. MGZ RE: Steve May 15, 2014 05:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                        I think this is a very interesting topic, Steve. I am not sure if I can answer some of the questions you pose, but I do think there are some things worth noting.

                                                                                                                                                        Initially, I submit that there are clearly vestiges of racism in trendy, contemporary food culture, but they are more "symptom" than "disease". As cowboyardee suggests, these problems are primarily socio-economic. This subculture is fueled by the luxury of disposable income. The luxury is disproportionately enjoyed by white and Asian households. Consequently, those who participate most in "dining out" as pastime or hobby are member of those racial groups. The underlying disproportion is the consequence of racism, both past and present.

                                                                                                                                                        Given the precarious financial endeavor that is a restaurant business, I do not believe most proprietors are too concerned about the color of the money they use to pay their bills. Nonetheless, I am certain, as in all areas of life, and from both sides of the racial divide, that there are unsavory acts being committed. I mean, there are assholes and bigots in every area of life, why wouldn't some of them own restaurants?

                                                                                                                                                        I do feel like DC is a tough place to extrapolate much from. It is, after all, practically a neo-Dickensian capital of "have and have not". The division is largely, historically and lastingly, on racial lines. In the District, dollars vote on lunch as much as they do legislation. In both cases, the cash may funnel in from outside, but it tends to recycle through the same half of the pockets.

                                                                                                                                                        I have no real experience with front of the house staff issues, but I do see that as a particularly interesting notion and one where progress is more realistic. We all accept that looks play a part in the hiring and retention of staff at many places. Is it possible that, on one level or another, race is one of those appearance factors considered? I'd certainly say "Yes". In a job market favoring capital and with jobs that require little experience or education, pretext is easy to hide behind.

                                                                                                                                                        I am of the mindset that we are past the point of diners avoiding an establishment because they "don't want that colored boy touching my food", or at least past the point where they say it out loud. Nevertheless, there remain significant problems in our society and I can fathom no explanation why they would not permeate either the culture or business of food.

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                                                                                                                                                          Palladium RE: Steve May 15, 2014 05:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                          I think you ask some really interesting questions. I live on the other side of the Pond now, but I find some trends are the same.
                                                                                                                                                          In a "foodie" restaurant, the clientele is overwhelmingly white. In the kind of "serious" restaurants where the kitchen is in view, or where they sit customers at the bar where you can watch the kitchen, the chefs/cooks tilt towards mostly white (thought I do notice the bussers, dishwashers, etc., at home in SF skew Hispanic).

                                                                                                                                                          I think the numbers of black diners, hosts/hostesses, chefs, food writers are low not because of some gatekeeping or overt racism (thought I do not deny that some of that must exist). I think the numbers are low because a whole host of socioeconomic factors combine to make it so. Let's face it, we all know you can eat well cheaply, but what do you think the average income of the people on this board is, compared to the national average? What's the average income of Twitter followers who get news on where the latest great food truck is, compared to the national average? What about compared to the national black average income?
                                                                                                                                                          How many eager young chefs start their restaurants with money borrowed from friends or family? What's the ratio of accepted vs rejected bank loans for a business if you're black vs white?

                                                                                                                                                          Is there also some social factor where black people simply aren't as interested in food as a hobby as white people? I don't know.

                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, I haven't answered any of your questions; I just asked more.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Palladium
                                                                                                                                                            MGZ RE: Palladium May 15, 2014 05:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                            "What's the ratio of accepted vs rejected bank loans for a business if you're black vs white?"

                                                                                                                                                            I had sort of omitted that notion in my response a few minutes ago, if only for the sake of brevity. It is unquestionably true that access to capital is more restrictive for those with less money and education. This is a clear impediment. Again, we return to the notion that the problems exist at a macrosocietal level and, at this time, awareness is of primary importance for our micro- bubble.

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                                                                                                                                                              Tom34 RE: MGZ May 27, 2014 07:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Funny that the Indians with little or no capital and no formal education have been able to take advantage of SBA loans and taken over the Dunkin Donuts, Subways Shops & 711 stores. Oh, and lets not forget the special tax status they enjoy.

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                                                                                                                                                                linguafood RE: Tom34 May 30, 2014 12:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Crazy. Maybe they all should've been murdered instead like the rest of their kin.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Tom34 RE: linguafood May 30, 2014 03:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know where you are going with all that Linguafood, I am simply defending this Country against all the excuse mongers. Even with our faults, the US offers more economic opportunity than just about every other country in the world. Determination and a strong work ethic are key. Clearly many immigrants have both and after a period of self sacrifice getting a business off the ground they are quite successful. Many would argue that is because where they come from if one does not work, one does not eat.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                                                    MGZ RE: Tom34 May 30, 2014 05:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Tom, clearly you're an individualist. Fine. Truth be told, I've got a violent existentialist streak. Just keep in mind that passion is not a substitute for reason. Faith should not preclude the necessity of examination.

                                                                                                                                                                    As to the basic point you're making, I agree, opportunity exists. Certainly race has become less of a barrier to opportunity over time, but those who are willing to consider its continued impact upon our society are not "excuse mongers". The invective really diminishes the effectiveness of what you're trying to say.

                                                                                                                                                                    Moreover, you don't need to defend the Country from people with whom you disagree. Solutions are generally found through the dialectic. When you identify the value of hard work, you make a salient point. Nevertheless, when you assert that it is the absence of a work ethic that is responsible for economic disparity, you're failing to accept that there may be other factors. All things are never truly equal.

                                                                                                                                                                    Our society is not and has never been perfect - the curse of all things organic and finite, I guess. Reasonable minds can and should disagree as to how to improve it, but they must always agree to consider doing so. Kinda like a sandwich - it's best to think the ultimate one is always still out there to search for.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Tom34 RE: MGZ May 31, 2014 06:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Actually I and many others do in fact feel that our great Country does need defending from elitist who feel the need to constantly attack it.

                                                                                                                                                                      My father's mother was a poor French Canadian transplant on the St Lawrence who's father harvested Ice during the winter and Sturgeon during the thaw. They had an out house and his shoes were held together with rope. My grandmother and her family collectively learned English and my grandmother eventually went to nursing school.

                                                                                                                                                                      My mother's mom was 1 of 13. Their father was a coal miner in rural PA and lost his arm at age 13 after which he got an office job with the mining Co. They got paid in Co script. As poor as they were, they sat around every night and studied together.

                                                                                                                                                                      My point is that at some point in time everyone was mistreated and went through hard times. Was the discrimination against Blacks real, damn right it was. Clearly one of the darkest parts of our Countries history.

                                                                                                                                                                      My problem is that the very programs the Gov (JFK & LBJ & to some extent RMN) put in place to correct a HORRIBLE wrong made a bad situation worse. The end result, destruction of the Black family and self determination, is almost as bad as slavery itself. Many very prominent Blacks have expressed the same opinion.

                                                                                                                                                                      Rehashing old ivory tower theories has not and will not solve the problem. At this point its pablum.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                                                        chowser RE: Tom34 Jun 1, 2014 04:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        "The end result, destruction of the Black family and self determination, is almost as bad as slavery itself."

                                                                                                                                                                        Enough said about your view point.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Tom34 RE: chowser Jun 1, 2014 08:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          As I stated, also the view point of many black scholars who have extensively studied the subject.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Insidious Rex RE: Tom34 Jun 1, 2014 06:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          another vote for sticking with picking cotton then?

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Insidious Rex
                                                                                                                                                                            chowser RE: Insidious Rex Jun 1, 2014 07:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            It's a tough call. Would I rather:

                                                                                                                                                                            1) have welfare available if I need it or

                                                                                                                                                                            2) be brutally and repeatedly raped by my master, forced to bear his child, watch my children be sold at 10, bullwhipped when they try to come back to me and do back breaking work 20 hours a day. But hey for almost three squares a day, a deal!

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser
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                                                                                                                                                                              Tom34 RE: chowser Jun 1, 2014 08:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              (or) have no traditional family support, flunk out of school functionally illiterate, be sucked up into a vacuum of prostitution and substance abuse if your a girl or join a gang if your a boy, deal drugs, spend half your life in prison & the rest in the hospital recovering from gun shot wounds until finally at age 30 the bullet hits critical real estate and you end up in a pine box.

                                                                                                                                                                              Read the UCR for the criminal stats and talk veteran inner city cops. Talk to an ER Doctor or ER nurse in a big city level I trauma hospital. My wife worked in one as an RN & her brother as a MD. The helicopters couldn't land soon enough. Tour a place like Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and see hundreds of brain damaged crack addicted infants and children. My wife's sister has been an RN there for 22 years.

                                                                                                                                                                              Your comparison is childish and completely insensitive to the reality of what is happening every 5 minutes today.

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34
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                                                                                                                                                                                Steve RE: Tom34 Jun 1, 2014 10:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                Well, when you put it that way it certainly takes the shine off it.

                                                                                                                                                                                To make this tangent about food, I propose you go to those entrepreneurs of Soul Food in your community (you Googled 17, right?) and ask them or their customers if they think their community might be worse off now than with slavery. If they don't think so, you can trot out your personal family history of resolve and ethical hard work and convince them with evidence of the hundreds of crack babies being born. Make sure you ask them to talk to veteran inner city cops, because they may not have met any.

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Steve
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                                                                                                                                                                                  Tom34 RE: Steve Jun 2, 2014 03:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  The people who live there don't need a reminder, they see it every day. Its the politicians and ivory tower crowd who live out in horse country (the Main Line) hopping country clubs and chasing foxes on horses who haven't stepped foot in North or West Philly in 50 yrs who need to see result of well intended but failed programs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34
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                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: Tom34 Jun 2, 2014 04:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    You insist on not relating your posts to food in any way, plus you insist on speaking for others. Your theories are no less Ivory Tower, and I mean that in the whitest sense possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                    'Trust me, they were better off.' Ok, doc, but I just may want to get a second opinion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34
                                                                                                                                                                                      linguafood RE: Tom34 Jun 2, 2014 04:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Poverty, not "crack babies", is the biggest problem for AA these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                      http://articles.philly.com/2013-07-22...

                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course, if the US still had slavery, this would not be something one would have to worry about. Especially as a white person.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                      chowser RE: Steve Jun 2, 2014 04:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Exactly--on one hand arguing that African Americans are well represented in the food community as restauranteurs and on the other saying they'd be better off under slavery.

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                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Palladium
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                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: Palladium May 15, 2014 07:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    The 'open kitchen' question is an interesting place to look. Again, in a completely unscientific way, I don't think I am likely to see a black employee in that situation.

                                                                                                                                                                    I believe there is endemic racism. Like for Hollywood movies. White audiences have proven they will not go see a movie with a predominantly black cast unless it gets rave reviews. So a producer is unlikely to make a picture unless they add a white character, the so-called savior character.

                                                                                                                                                                    Meanwhile, color-blind casting is reserved for a few superstar celebrities and the rest of the black actor pool is desperate for work.

                                                                                                                                                                    Seeing how intense and fast-rising the foodie culture is, it seems to be an area of economic opportunity that black people are being shunted from.

                                                                                                                                                                    Apparently there are quite a few Chowhounds who disagree or are dismissve of the issue entirely.

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Palladium
                                                                                                                                                                      tcamp RE: Palladium May 15, 2014 08:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I agree that socio economic factors play a strong role in this matter but one thing that is interesting about the DC area is the abundance of highly educated, economically successful, business owning black Americans who certainly have the financial means to eat at trendy foodie joints if they so choose. So do their kids.

                                                                                                                                                                      I've worked for 20 years in the government contracting world, mainly for minority-owned small and mid-sized businesses. These businesses are filled with smart, affluent blacks, not to mention government itself being a place that is more color blind that some industries. I don't know the answers to Steve's questions but I think they are interesting ones. The picture he posted of 14th street BBQ place is a prime example of the love/hate relationship the city has with gentrification.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tcamp
                                                                                                                                                                        MGZ RE: tcamp May 15, 2014 08:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Though I don't doubt the truths you've offered, the fact is that the per capita income of Whites in DC is more than twice that of African-Americans (roughly 65k to 25k in '09). See, e.g., http://www.city-data.com/income/incom...

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                          tcamp RE: MGZ May 15, 2014 09:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Many of the people I mentioned live outside of DC proper in Prince Georges, Montgomery and Fairfax counties, just like their economically-similar white counterparts. In DC itself, you're right.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tcamp
                                                                                                                                                                            MGZ RE: tcamp May 15, 2014 10:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            It doesn't change much. For example, the average income in PG County is 32k.

                                                                                                                                                                            Thing is, tcamp, It'd be much better if I wasn't right about any of these facts.

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                                                                                                                                                                      sedimental RE: Steve May 15, 2014 09:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      There are many studies on leisure activities, race, economics, and culture. I am not sure why you would think food is "the last great bastion".... The same things could be said about chess playing, museum curators, equestrians, golf (Hi Tiger, you're unique) auto racing, wine, etc.....no last bastion of anything. Leisure activities are very much divided along lines of gender, race, rich, poor, middle class, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                      Most people studying these things think differences in tastes are socially reinforced and are partly due to the byproduct of institutionalized racism and sexism for so many years.

                                                                                                                                                                      Black homes don't have photos of grandpa with golf clubs, stories of aunt Margaret winning trophies for swimming competitions, they don't have wine spectator on the coffee table, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                      Edit: I would add that some of these things are changing (thankfully) and wouldn't it be great if food eventually becomes the common tie....almost everyone loves food :)

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sedimental
                                                                                                                                                                        cowboyardee RE: sedimental May 15, 2014 10:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        "I would add that some of these things are changing (thankfully) and wouldn't it be great if food eventually becomes the common tie....almost everyone loves food :)"
                                                                                                                                                                        ________

                                                                                                                                                                        I agree with you that all (sub)cultures tend to care about food. It's also worth noting that not all cultures consider restaurant-style fine dining the epitome of a good meal, or even appealing. The OP seems to be looking mainly at fine dining and peripheral economies that support fine dining (restaurant critics, for example). If that's not what you consider a great meal, then it's a lot less likely that you'll search out a job in that industry or form common ties with people whose main expression of the their interest in food comes in the form of fine dining.

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental
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                                                                                                                                                                          Steve RE: sedimental May 15, 2014 01:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Ok, so here is why I think it's the last great bastion: because being a waiter or host or kitchen worker or chef or food critic should be easily accessible jobs for African-Americans. in terms of location (city), pay scale, educational requirements, you name it, the foodie craze which is extremely lucrative and taking place smack dab in the middle of cities seems to be white European in nature. It seems to be leaving behind the very folks who actually live or lived in these neighborhoods.

                                                                                                                                                                          So a guy walks into a bar....that's me. And sees a black hostress, The waiter is black, another waiter is black, the bartender is black. Honestly, I think this was the first time ever in DC I have seen more than one black person working at the same restaurant that had mostly white people eating there.

                                                                                                                                                                          While I believe there is probably a lack of black museum curators, golf pros and thoroughbred trainers, I somehow think that the food business is more impactful.

                                                                                                                                                                          From the play Clybourne Park:

                                                                                                                                                                          "KARL: I can tell you, in all the time I've been there, I have not once seen a colored family on those slopes. Now, what accounts for that? Certainly not any deficit in ability, so what I have to conclude is that for some reason, there is just something about the pastime of skiing that doesn't appeal to the Negro community. And feel free to prove me wrong… But you'll have to show me where to find the skiing Negroes."

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                                                                                                                                                                          Bellachefa RE: Steve May 15, 2014 10:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          WTF is African American cuisine and African American restaurants? And why pull Jamaican cuisine into the mix?

                                                                                                                                                                          A
                                                                                                                                                                          Algeria
                                                                                                                                                                          Angola
                                                                                                                                                                          B
                                                                                                                                                                          Benin
                                                                                                                                                                          Botswana
                                                                                                                                                                          Burkina Faso
                                                                                                                                                                          Burundi
                                                                                                                                                                          C
                                                                                                                                                                          Cameroon
                                                                                                                                                                          Cape Verde
                                                                                                                                                                          Central African Rep.
                                                                                                                                                                          Chad
                                                                                                                                                                          Comoros
                                                                                                                                                                          Congo (Brazzaville)
                                                                                                                                                                          Congo (DRC, Zaire)
                                                                                                                                                                          Cote d'Ivoire
                                                                                                                                                                          D
                                                                                                                                                                          Djibouti
                                                                                                                                                                          E
                                                                                                                                                                          Egypt
                                                                                                                                                                          Equatorial Guinea
                                                                                                                                                                          Eritrea
                                                                                                                                                                          Ethiopia
                                                                                                                                                                          G
                                                                                                                                                                          Gabon
                                                                                                                                                                          Gambia
                                                                                                                                                                          Ghana
                                                                                                                                                                          Guinea
                                                                                                                                                                          Guinea-Bissau
                                                                                                                                                                          K
                                                                                                                                                                          Kenya
                                                                                                                                                                          L
                                                                                                                                                                          Lesotho
                                                                                                                                                                          Liberia
                                                                                                                                                                          Libya
                                                                                                                                                                          M
                                                                                                                                                                          Madagascar
                                                                                                                                                                          Malawi
                                                                                                                                                                          Mali
                                                                                                                                                                          Mauritania
                                                                                                                                                                          Mauritius
                                                                                                                                                                          Morocco
                                                                                                                                                                          Mozambique
                                                                                                                                                                          N
                                                                                                                                                                          Namibia
                                                                                                                                                                          Niger
                                                                                                                                                                          Nigeria
                                                                                                                                                                          R
                                                                                                                                                                          Reunion
                                                                                                                                                                          Rwanda
                                                                                                                                                                          S
                                                                                                                                                                          Sao Tome & Principe
                                                                                                                                                                          Senegal
                                                                                                                                                                          Seychelles
                                                                                                                                                                          Sierra Leone
                                                                                                                                                                          Somalia
                                                                                                                                                                          South Africa
                                                                                                                                                                          Sudan
                                                                                                                                                                          Swaziland
                                                                                                                                                                          T
                                                                                                                                                                          Tanzania
                                                                                                                                                                          Togo
                                                                                                                                                                          Tunisia
                                                                                                                                                                          U
                                                                                                                                                                          Uganda
                                                                                                                                                                          W
                                                                                                                                                                          Western Sahara
                                                                                                                                                                          Z
                                                                                                                                                                          Zambia
                                                                                                                                                                          Zimbabwe

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bellachefa
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                                                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: Bellachefa May 15, 2014 12:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            In Washington, DC, I would say Oohhs and Aahhs and Langston Bar and Grill are two examples of African-American restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                            You can Gooogle Image either place.

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Steve
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                                                                                                                                                                              Bellachefa RE: Steve May 15, 2014 01:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Well perhaps you yourself are the last bastion of racism, as I would not define either of those as African-American cuisine.

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bellachefa
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                                                                                                                                                                                Steve RE: Bellachefa May 15, 2014 01:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                I do not disclaim racism on my part because I believe one always has to be vigilant about it. It's not enough for someone to say "I am not a racist" because it's when you let your guard down that it is far too convenient to do what is comfortable, ie, associate with PLU.

                                                                                                                                                                                So tell me, how do I err in thinking of either of these places as African-American? The woman who first started O&A, India Abbot Wilson is from Coastal Carolina and started cooking the food she grew up with from her community, decidedly African-American. I was one of her first customers. She is rarely there any more, and her husband has taken over the kitchen, but the food remains the same.

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                                                                                                                                                                            James Cristinian RE: Steve May 15, 2014 10:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            How about the last bastion of discrimination? Age. I'm a 50's white male and there is zero chance of me being hired at a regional chain. Everyone is college age, and yes many are black. It's an upscale place, by the way.

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                                                                                                                                                                              James Cristinian RE: Steve May 15, 2014 10:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Steve, I just trolled your profile and noticed your favorite restaurants. Two Asian, an Indian, soul, and Jamaican. Would they hire a second generation Pole like myself or my Hispanic wifeacita?

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian
                                                                                                                                                                                MGZ RE: James Cristinian May 15, 2014 11:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Your implication simply supports the fact that racism exists in restaurant hiring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                  James Cristinian RE: MGZ May 15, 2014 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  At certain ethnic restaurants, however I encounter black, white, Asian and Hispanic wait staff in most restaurants.

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                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: James Cristinian
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                                                                                                                                                                                  Steve RE: James Cristinian May 15, 2014 12:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  I am very symathetic to your situation, and you make a very valid point.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Of course, black people get old too.

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                                                                                                                                                                                3. cowboyardee RE: Steve May 15, 2014 12:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  One of the interesting factors here is the interplay between ingrained attitudes of the dining public, food marketing when it comes to high profile restaurants, and racial/cultural heritage of the people making the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The notion of 'authenticity' plays a big role in food marketing because it effectively sells food and puts butts in chairs. In the obvious sense, some people like to eat food exactly as it was made traditionally in some various culture. This first kind of 'authenticity' has been critiqued half to death, but there is another kind of authenticity that is even harder to shake among diners: cooking with 'soul,' 'love,' 'with a deep personal connection to your food,'... however you want to put it. Cut out a little piece of your soul and put it on a plate (or at least tell people that's what you're doing) and it will sell. OTOH, tell the media you cook something because it's trendy and has good profit margins and you're especially good at making it (which are perfectly good reasons, if you ask me) - that's PR suicide. You're a fake, an opportunist, soulless. And in the eyes of many, you are assumed not be as good at cooking your cuisine of choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                  This affects the demographics of the restaurant business. If you want to prepare 'traditional' sushi in a high-profile joint, it sure helps to be Japanese. An African American chef might have an easier time selling soul food than she would selling Thai. A white chef might have a hard time convincing locals that his taco truck offers a product just as good as the one run by Mexicans down the street... but he can get away with selling fusion or European style fine dining a lot more easily. And between a taco truck and a fine dining restaurant, which has the potential to push more wine sales and be a higher profile, higher profit business?

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee
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                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: cowboyardee May 15, 2014 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    I was mostly thinking of all those industrial chic restaurants featuring "Modern American" cuisine, which seems far removed from the provenance of any one ethnicity.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Is this not happening in other cities?

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                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                      cowboyardee RE: Steve May 15, 2014 02:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't really claim to know. But my gut instinct tells me that 'Modern American' might be easier to sell with a white chef at its helm than a minority one. It's not just a matter of whether your background justifies (or appears to justify) the food you're selling but also whether the food you're selling appears to represent your assumed background. Perhaps ironically, white chefs might be carrying less cultural baggage in the eyes of their customers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cowboyardee
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                                                                                                                                                                                      Lori D RE: cowboyardee May 15, 2014 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      This is hardly fine dining, but an interesting data point - I have been in Tom Yum District (in Rosslyn - a suburb of DC - fast food with a Thai slant) when the person working the counter and the chef were both African American.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I remember a Washington Post article not too long ago that stated that most of the restaurants in Eden Center (Vietnamese shopping center in the DC area) are hiring Hispanic cooks because the younger Vietnamese don't necessarily want to work in restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The Rays group of restaurants seems to have a fair number of African American servers.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And there are a fair amount of African American chefs on the reality shows - one who comes to mind (from the DC area) is Timothy Dean, who, IIRC, has alleged that there is racism in this business.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    3. alkapal RE: Steve May 15, 2014 01:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      get out of dc, steve. you'll find your answer -- and more likely in the south. (and that means, there are lots of black restaurateurs in the south).

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. boogiebaby RE: Steve May 15, 2014 02:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        First off, this isn't just about African Americans. If you're going to cry "racism", don't single out African Americans -- talk about the Hispanics, Indians, and Iranians too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        FWIW, I don't think it's all about hiring practices. A restaurant will hire a qualified/trained person. How many African Americans go to culinary school to become a chef? If a culinary school has 10% African Americans, 20% Asians, and 70% Caucasians, then the issue starts there. As for food critics -- same thing. How many African Americans pursue a degree in English or Journalism? Who is encouraging African Americans and other minorities to get into the food industry? I know in Indian culture, someone who cooks or works in a restaurant isn't considered to be "successful". Most indian parents want their kids to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, or businessmen. Chefs, fashion designers, and DJs just aren't on the "success" plan. (I say this from experience.)

                                                                                                                                                                                        Here in LA, we have many Hispanics working in restaurants. You'll also see many Middle Easterners, Armenians, and Caucasians. and yes, I do see African Americans as well. I think it depends on where one lives too -- you have a bigger percentage of Armenians living and working here in LA, compared to Phoenix. So, therefore, you would see a higher number of Armenians working in our restaurants compared to Phoenix restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think instead of claiming it's a racism issue due to hiring practices, one should look at why minority members aren't pursuing these fields. Why aren't minority parents and mentors encouraging their family and friends to go to culinary school?

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: boogiebaby
                                                                                                                                                                                          cowboyardee RE: boogiebaby May 15, 2014 03:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          "If a culinary school has 10% African Americans, 20% Asians, and 70% Caucasians, then the issue starts there."
                                                                                                                                                                                          ...
                                                                                                                                                                                          "Why aren't minority parents and mentors encouraging their family and friends to go to culinary school?"
                                                                                                                                                                                          _____
                                                                                                                                                                                          Have you talked to any industry insiders recently about the ROI on culinary school?

                                                                                                                                                                                          FWIW, I don't actually disagree with your post. But it might be just as relevant to ask why anyone goes to culinary school at all, given the cost of the education vs the wages of a graduate.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                            boogiebaby RE: cowboyardee May 15, 2014 03:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            But ROI on culinary school is not what this thread is about. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            I know a couple people who went to culinary school and became known chefs in the LA area. Both have said that they learned more from their hands-on experience workin in restaurants, but they couldn't get a job as a soux chef/apprentice anywhere without having a culinary degree on their resume.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I would think (and assume) that people don't go to culinary school for the ROI, but rather for the love of food.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: boogiebaby
                                                                                                                                                                                              cowboyardee RE: boogiebaby May 15, 2014 04:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              "But ROI on culinary school is not what this thread is about."
                                                                                                                                                                                              ______
                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not necessarily unrelated.

                                                                                                                                                                                              As opposed to a lot of fields where minorities were historically excluded, there is very little financial impetus to pursue a career in fine dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                              As with other careers where minorities were traditionally excluded, there's not much passive social pressure to pursue fine dining (if you don't see people in your community heading fine dining restaurants, you're just less likely to consider it as a career).

                                                                                                                                                                                              And if your culture doesn't care for fine dining restaurants, you might love food, but a fine dining career is not likely to be how you express that love.
                                                                                                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9757...
                                                                                                                                                                                              There's a kind of assumption throughout much of this thread that caring about food or even pursuing a career in food will invariably lead to an interest in fine dining. Not so.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The point is that there are relatively few motivating factors actually pushing many minorities into this particular field in the first place. Culinary school ROI is just one less.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                              gaffk RE: cowboyardee May 15, 2014 03:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps if we all supported CCAP:
                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.ccapinc.org/
                                                                                                                                                                                              there would be more minorities in the industry?

                                                                                                                                                                                              I know this organization is very active in Philadelphia (and actively supported by the top chefs and restauranteurs).

                                                                                                                                                                                              They recently held a competition for city students with culinary scholarships as awards.
                                                                                                                                                                                              http://articles.philly.com/2014-03-30...

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                girloftheworld RE: gaffk May 15, 2014 03:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                as seen in the movie Pressure Cooker

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld
                                                                                                                                                                                                  gaffk RE: girloftheworld May 15, 2014 03:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I"ll have to keep an eye out for that one.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                    girloftheworld RE: gaffk May 16, 2014 05:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    netflix

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: girloftheworld
                                                                                                                                                                                                    tcamp RE: girloftheworld May 17, 2014 10:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the recc. I watched this last night - very good.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tcamp
                                                                                                                                                                                                      girloftheworld RE: tcamp May 17, 2014 10:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I keep waiting for a "hollywood version"

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                    ChefJune RE: gaffk May 20, 2014 01:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    C-CAP started in New York, and operates in 7 locations across the US. They've graduated several hundred young men and women, most of whom are working in the indursty, some of them prominently. http://www.ccapinc.org/locations.php

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                                                                                                                                                                                              2. emglow101 RE: Steve May 15, 2014 03:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                We hired a black president. I don't get this thread.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: emglow101
                                                                                                                                                                                                  MGZ RE: emglow101 May 16, 2014 05:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If it's cool with you, I'm just going to appreciate that as laudably deft satire.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  pedalfaster RE: Steve May 15, 2014 04:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Interesting examples you've given. And you did't touch on sexism in the industry at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Huh.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: pedalfaster May 15, 2014 07:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good point. More fodder for this thread.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. pikawicca RE: Steve May 15, 2014 06:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Your rant is ridiculous unless you can give examples of minority food writers or chefs who have been ignored. If you can, please share. If black people were being systematically excluded from positions as hosts at restaurants, we'd hear about it in the form of lawsuits. I really do not understand where you are coming from.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Steve RE: pikawicca May 15, 2014 07:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah, so if I can name ten African-American or other minority restaurants that are or have been ignored by the press, either extant ones or places that have since closed, you will admit that my premise is not ridiculous?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      As far as writers are concerned, many food writers did not start out as such. They were proverbially 'handed the keys to the car' by editors even if they had no little or no experience food writing. This happens in small town publications most often, but even reaches as far as big cities. I believe Frank Bruni of the NY Times falls under this category:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      https://www.nytimes.com/ref/dining/br...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        k
                                                                                                                                                                                                        kpaxonite RE: Steve May 15, 2014 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        But..... it is ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It has nothing to do with racism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kpaxonite
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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Steve RE: kpaxonite May 15, 2014 08:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are being dismissive. I am just trying to put two and two together: Foodies are rarely African-American. Upscale restaurants have few African-American clients. Newspapers are highly unlikely to hire an African-American as their food critic and maybe have never done so. Trendy and/or upscale restaurants want to reflect a particular image. And then when I go to these restaurants, I see almost exclusively chefs, hosts, and others who are not African-American.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Could be many other reasons I suppose, but to flat out say there is no racism involved seems odd to me. Especially since the history of it all suggests otherwise.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            GH1618 RE: Steve May 15, 2014 08:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            A ridiculous premise deserves to be dismissed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618
                                                                                                                                                                                                              MGZ RE: GH1618 May 16, 2014 06:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "A ridiculous premise deserves to be dismissed."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unilaterally declaring a premise ridiculous does not make it so (even if, as in this case, it was not particularly artfully worded in the first place). You're simply affirming your own conclusion with your own conclusion. "I don't believe it so it's not worth considering", if you will.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Given that (a) it is undeniable that racism has existed and (b) there is testimonial, statistical, and circumstantial evidence establishing that there is a disproportionately low number of AA diners, owners, and staff in restaurants at, and above, a certain price point, there is a valid basis for inquiry. The fact that there may be other explanations for the evidence does not make the premise ridiculous, it just resolves the inquiry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Part of the problem seems to lie in your definition of racism: "Racism is systematic discrimination." It's not. "Racism" is a belief. "Discrimination" is an act. "Systemic discrimination" is similarly an act, but can manifest without individual intent because it has become built into an organization or culture. "Systematic discrimination", another act, actually requires concerted intent among individuals to the point of having developed a method or plan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                                              PhilD RE: Steve May 15, 2014 09:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steve - I think you need to remember "correlation is not causation" so the data points are well observed but the hypothesis is flawed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My observation of food is that it is a unifying medium. People from different cultures will almost always sit down and enjoy food together, form bonds and develop relationships.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              So in the main I doubt there is any conscious or unconscious racism. BUT and it's a big but people can be disadvanted as a result of structural, historic or other indirect reasons. So access to training, jobs, capital etc may not be equal. And if these things are in themselves tricky it can demotivate and put people off. Without the desire and ambition success in food is hard to achieve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fixing that is far from easy and not quick. But I doubt anyone interested on food would think its a bad thing to do, and I bet many would welcome opportunities to make it happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              And as I don't live in the US, a question. Are there celebrated role models? Karinn's list looks impressive but are many of them household names who are seen on TV and across the media? Without that happening you won't see the change in ambition that encourages new talent.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Steve RE: PhilD May 16, 2014 04:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Change at the top doesn't always mean change elsewhere which is why I referenced the notorious disparity in movies between African-American names 'above the title' and below.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The other thing I find interesting is that many Chowhounds do not seem to realize that the job of restaurant critic is not an 'open-hire' at most publications. It is not listed with a title and job number at Human Resources, and you don't fill out an application. The restautant critic is usually hand-picked by an editor.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                                                chowser RE: Steve May 16, 2014 05:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Start with this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Foodies are rarely African-American. Upscale restaurants have few African-American clients."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And add "Hence..."Newspapers are highly unlikely to hire an African-American as their food critic and maybe have never done so...I see almost exclusively chefs, hosts, and others who are not African-American."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think it's a self-selecting group. People who are foodies tend to get jobs in the restaurant business. If African Americans choose not to go into the business, it could be lack of interest. Not many Asians in the NFL. Is it self-selecting that they don't choose to or racism? FWIW, my parents lived in Alabama in the 80's. The thing I noticed in nicer restaurants was that people who were serving were African Americans. The patrons were white, except for my family. That felt far more insitutionally racist.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Palladium RE: chowser May 16, 2014 06:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (Story coming up only vaguely tangentially related to discussion.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I worked a very brief summer job at a restaurant in the Pearl District in PDX (in the mid-90s, "before it was cool, man"). I and the other waitress were the only non-black people working there. The clientele was mostly black, with a few white people every once in a while. I can't remember now what it was called, but it was pretty casual and served what could be broadly described as southern US food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember having a conversation with the chef that could have been one of the rants here- she went on and on about how people nowadays couldn't or wouldn't cook: "They don't even know how to make a mac 'n cheese! I mean, mac 'n cheese!- what could be simpler?!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At the time, I was just a year into college and out of my Chinese family home, and had no clue how to make mac 'n cheese, so I kept my mouth shut.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kris in Beijing RE: chowser May 16, 2014 10:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    re: Alabama
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are elements of the Charleston SC dining scene that can make it feel like a antebellum theme park.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are certainly black waitstaff there, and I think it's often to maintain/ fulfill an image [even if subconsciously].

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf RE: Kris in Beijing May 16, 2014 11:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Isn't that the image Paula Deen referred to in discussing a dream wedding?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    pikawicca RE: Steve May 16, 2014 04:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Unless you can backup your many sweeping generalizations with hard evidence, I doubt that anyone will take you seriously. "Foodies are rarely African-American?" Sounds like a pretty racist comment to me.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf RE: pikawicca May 16, 2014 05:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Observing racial differences isn't intrinsically racist.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: pikawicca May 16, 2014 05:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am not sure what 'hard evidence' I could possibly have aside from..... Chowhounds themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pikawicca RE: Steve May 16, 2014 06:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I rest my case.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf RE: pikawicca May 16, 2014 06:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You never made one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The OP raises a series of questions for discussion. Offers his own ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Some folks discuss the ideas, pro and con.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Others settle for taking swipes that are non sequiturs..

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                acgold7 RE: Steve May 15, 2014 06:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                One more time: Co-variance does not imply correlation; Correlation does not imply causality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just because two sets of percentages do not equal one another does not in the slightest imply that there is any "ism" involved, that either one is too high or too low, or that they ought to be equal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just as a poor (or good) review for a restaurant (or any other endeavor) by a critic for any outlet, evaluating the establishment, does not imply that said review is the result of any "ism." Perhaps the food just sucks. Or it's a shitty boring movie, for that matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Those who are entrenched in their position of seeing the world through "ism" prisms are going to find what they seek, no matter what the facts are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I assume we should be equally upset that the profiles of the NBA, NFL and MLB do not parallel that of the US.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Steve RE: acgold7 May 15, 2014 07:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  just going on my own observations in a city that has a huge African-American population. Not looking for correlation, but I am wondering aloud since there is a huge bias in foodie cricles toward Euro paradigms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Add to that the historic reality of upscale dining and whites-only hiring practices. Or do you refute that as well?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    acgold7 RE: Steve May 16, 2014 09:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There used to be slavery here too, but that doesn't mean it still exists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hiring by quota never works. Ever. Do you really want your food prepared by someone who was chosen on the basis of their race or ethnicity rather than skill or desire to learn and work hard?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No hiring manager in his/her right mind would pass over someone who was skilled, simply because he/she didn't like the color of the applicant's skin.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mcf RE: acgold7 May 16, 2014 09:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "No hiring manager in his/her right mind would pass over someone who was skilled, simply because he/she didn't like the color or the applicant's skin.:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think it depends on what you consider "right mind." Lots of otherwise sane folks do and have historically done just that.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        acgold7 RE: mcf May 16, 2014 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No one is going to risk his or her business on an underqualified chef while refusing to hire a more qualified one for unrelated reasons. That's just stupid and not believable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To cling to the injustices of the past only prolongs the problem.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: acgold7
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mcf RE: acgold7 May 16, 2014 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Who says that's the inevitable outcome?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            acgold7 RE: mcf May 16, 2014 10:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I didn't mention any outcome so I'm not sure what you're referring to. I just responded to the assertion that "Lots of otherwise sane folks do" "pass over someone who was skilled, simply because he/she didn't like the color or the applicant's skin."

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf RE: acgold7 May 16, 2014 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Choosing to hire or not hire is an outcome.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: acgold7 May 16, 2014 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I didn't ask for quotas, so is that a non-sequitor?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          acgold7 RE: Steve May 16, 2014 10:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are noting the disparity between two sets of percentages, so in fact that is what you are asking for. If they were the same you wouldn't have started this thread.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: acgold7 May 16, 2014 10:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My aim was to make people aware of the disparity and point out the flaws of what is going on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The end result could be any number of things, such as to make white restaurant critics more aware of how their prejudices affect their reviews or the restaurants they choose to cover.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            See, no quota system.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mcf RE: acgold7 May 16, 2014 11:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That inference doesn't follow for me. One can note disparities to increase thinking and awareness about something, not necessarily to be prescriptive about it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              MGZ RE: Steve May 16, 2014 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Red Herring - Staw Man/Aunt Sally

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. chartreauxx RE: Steve May 15, 2014 06:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        las time i checked, the vast majority of workers in the food world (at least in the usa) were latino/a.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          kariin RE: Steve May 15, 2014 07:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You don't know much, do you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (BTW, yep, racial disc. is real and persistent - so lets combat it by _celebrating _the AA people who are here now - and some who came before, who are amazing writers, thinkers, cooks, chefs, restaurant owners. Spread the word:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          read - know these people: my guess is you don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lolis Eric Elie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jessica Harris
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          verta Mae Grosvernor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Edna Lewis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dori Sanders
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Psyche Williams-Forson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Leah Chase
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Toni Tipton-Martin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kathy Starr
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Norma Jean Darden
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Michael w Twitty
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Aliyyah Baylor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          'Cakeman' Raven
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sanura Weathers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maxcel Hardy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Devin McDavid
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Marcus Samuelsson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tanya Holland
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          B. Smith
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Joe Randall
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bryant Terry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Adrian Miller
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dr. Michael O. Minor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Libby Clark
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sandra Lawson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Joyce White
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Austin Leslie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Asha Gomez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Darryl Evans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          these are just the ones I know of - off the top of my head and w/a google for jogging my memory for spelling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There's a whole world you seem oblivious to. A task we could all contribute to is to make every one of these names better known, cause these are great people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          do you know any of them??

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kariin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JAB RE: kariin May 15, 2014 08:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Govind Armstrong

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              kariin RE: JAB May 15, 2014 08:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Keep adding names - he's one I don't know - can you write about him? thanks JAB

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kalivs RE: kariin May 15, 2014 10:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                He was on Iron Chef America & a guest judge on on one of the Top Chefs. I think he is still the chef for Post & Beam in LA. I went when they had just started their lunch service and the food was a little uneven. However, the meatball appetizer was great.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JAB RE: Kalivs May 16, 2014 06:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Owner / Chef I believe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    condiment RE: JAB May 17, 2014 01:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also owner/chef of the very good Willie Jane in Venice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: kariin
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steve RE: kariin May 15, 2014 08:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's an impresive list, thanks for sharing that with me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I live in the Washington, DC area, so the only kitchen I am personally familiar with is B. Smith's. I have heard of Dookie Chase.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              B. Smith had a place in DC that closed fairly recently - talk about getitng ignored by the press! I was the one only one writing about it on Chowhound. I did not eat there often enough to get a good sense of the entire menu, but I completely adored her Swamp Thang and I took visitors there on a couple of occassions. The kind of place that was never deemed good enough by the press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Like you said, better to give these folks their due and to make them better known. Could it be that Washington DC is an outlier? That here is the one place where African-Americans are not being hired in the restaurant industry?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                kariin RE: Steve May 16, 2014 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I appreciate that. good to hear from you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                some tough comments and questions here - and offered I hope in a positive way - no ax grinding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Most of the people on that list have _nothing_ to do with DC or where I live either, except for Verta Mae Grosvernor. And I know who they are and consider them important - you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Your focus seems to be on what you personally see in high-end restaurants in DC and 'celebrity' TV personalities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've never eaten at Red Rooster in NY but I know who Marcus Samuelsson is and why he is important as both a creative chef and a black man in the food industry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What's with your very narrow focus?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i gotta say - it snapped my head back to see you write that you've _heard_ of Dooky Chase. WTH??? Dookie's been gone, sadly, for many years. Its Leah Chase who is alive, cooking, writing and signaling the leadership of great african-american cooks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why don't you know who she is and follow her work? Maybe you do - I don't want to jump to unpleasant conclusions. But it is just weird that you _don't_ know
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                so many of these amazing people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lolis Eric Elie is one of the best writers today on food anywhere - do you read him?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And Will Allen in Milwaukee is having a huge impact on urban food growing and sustainable accessible agriculture. He's a former NBA player who received a McArthur Foundation genius recognition for his work. And you don't know who he is? Why not?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.growingpower.org/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                African american activists are having a powerful impact on food security issue, food deserts, access to fresh food, urban gardens (yeah - in DC too). They are not waiting to be discovered as celebrities by the Food Network or the latest hipster crowd. Here's one:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                www.foodand communityfellows.org

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are many many conferences (on minority chefs) conventions, meetings, organizations - lots of activity you seem to know nothing about. Black food journalists and writers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why don't you know? Can you help? will you help?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Her is one of the best: - check this out - everybody:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Michael W. Twitty
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                www.afroculinaria.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let us keep talking/writing to each other. This is a terric way to connect with each other and learn.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  tcamp RE: kariin May 16, 2014 09:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You raise an excellent point about African American/black activists having a powerful impact on food security issues, urban gardens, etc. That is a certainly a significant part of the "food scene" and needs to be considered. The list you posted is great too - lots of new names for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I will also note that Steve is known on the DC board for his deep knowledge of all types of DC dining - from hole in the wall to high end. As a chowhound who has dined with him numerous times, I know firsthand that his observations are definitely not solely based on high end foodie experiences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: kariin May 16, 2014 09:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What is with my very narrow focus?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I know for certain what I see right in front of me. It is very far from what there is to know, and I like that on Chowhound there is always someone like you far more knowledgable than I am. I will look through your links.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ChefJune RE: kariin May 20, 2014 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <i gotta say - it snapped my head back to see you write that you've _heard_ of Dooky Chase. WTH??? Dookie's been gone, sadly, for many years. Its Leah Chase who is alive, cooking, writing and signaling the leadership of great african-american cooks.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Guess what? Dooky Chase is very much alive. He has never been much involved in the restaurant until Katrina. He and Leah ended up living in a FEMA trailer across the street from the restaurant for a year while they rebuilt the restaurant.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thistle5 RE: Steve May 20, 2014 02:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Michael W. Twitty is from the Washington DC area & is an excellent food blogger http://afroculinaria.com/about/
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      & while the Mount Vernon Inn is not usually listed on the top restaurant lists for this area, both the director of food & beverage, Jay Quander, & the executive chef, Ryan Wallen, are black. My last lunch there was excellent, although I have no idea of the racial/ ethnic background of the kitchen, because it didn't matter-I was there for the food. (Actually, I was there to visit the gardens that day, & we just ended up eating there).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        chowser RE: thistle5 May 20, 2014 03:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That is an excellent blog--thanks for sharing it. It's possibly one of the most intellectual I've read (far cry from Pioneer Woman). This guy should have a show, and not on Food Network.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ChefJune RE: chowser May 21, 2014 02:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          you might also find this blog of interest:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          www.thejemimacode.com

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      emglow101 RE: kariin May 15, 2014 09:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From your list . I want to make the fried chicken recipe that Leah Chase made on Julia Child PBS series Cooking with Master Chefs. Looks fantastic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pat Hammond RE: kariin May 16, 2014 08:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd like to add Patrick Clark who died in the late 90's. He started out at Bice in Beverly HIlls and was Chef at Tavern on the Green in Manhattan when he died. He was young, mid-40s, but was considered a role model (and a fine chef). I still recall hearing about his untimely death.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: Steve May 16, 2014 04:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Actually I just remembered the one African-American chef from Washington, DC that gained foodie cred - Chef Gillian Clark. Her restaurants in DC failed, but she is now cooking in Placentia, California at a restaurant called Sue Ann's Kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyone from that area should check it out, because Chef Clark rocks,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        https://www.facebook.com/SueAnnsKitch...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          JAB RE: Steve May 16, 2014 06:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Who knew that I'd get a rec out of this thread. That's about 26 miles from me. I'm going to make that happen. It gets very little mention on the LA Board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/sue-an...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: JAB May 16, 2014 07:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She is a master when it comes to fried catfish, if you are lucky enough to find it on the menu or as a special. You could even call in advance and ask for it..... but if it were me I'd beg and plead for it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              James Cristinian RE: Steve May 16, 2014 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nothing to do with anything, but I am a master at fried speckled trout. Gotta catch my own, though.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. JAB RE: Steve May 16, 2014 06:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Forgive me if he's already been mentioned but, Chef / Owner Daisley Gordon from Seattle as well.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            chartreauxx RE: JAB May 16, 2014 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            wayne johnson, too, formerly of andaluca, more recently ray's boathouse, and currently on hiatus. makini howell (hillside quickies), sabrina tinsley (osteria la spiga), patrick gabre-kidan (a variety of Ethan Stowell restaurants).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              kariin RE: chartreauxx May 16, 2014 08:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hey chartreauxx - thanks for the additional names - great!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. jrvedivici RE: Steve May 16, 2014 07:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Interesting thread and one I would expect would already be locked if it were started by me or my white counterparts. I have read much of this thread, probably more than any other thread that I’m joining this late into………and here are a few of my opinions on this topic. Similar to you Steve, I have nothing to back up what I’m saying, just my personal opinions for what they are worth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            First let’s just get this out in the open, does racism still exist? Yes it does. Neither I nor my children or my grandchildren will live to see the day(s) that Gene Roddenberry tried to inspire us where complete racial harmony will exist. Do I think we are moving in that direction? Yes, but we still have a long way to go. To be honest African American’s (US specific) are several generations behind their white counterparts in this country, we are after all still within the generation of legal racial segregation. Time just doesn’t move fast enough in these situations it seems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve you yourself said;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Chowhound membership is definitely not a question of racism. It is completely voluntary, free, and nobody is discouraged or in anyway denied membership by the color of their skin.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So wouldn’t this indicate if there is not a proper representation of black people participating in Chow, that perhaps the “foodie craze” hasn’t yet hit the community? If there is nothing stopping from people joining and participating in this forum, and yet there is a small number of black participants, wouldn’t that be more indicative of the “foodie” culture not being of substantial interest within that community?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think the “foodie” culture in general is a rather new phenomenon, up until two decades ago the only celebrity chef known by name in most white or black households was Julia Childs. Now 20 years later look how that has changed. I think like so many things in this country the “foodie phenomenon” is fairly new and like most things it is initially being fueled by the white majority population, but will soon garner the interest and participation of more diverse groups as it continues to grow and expand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I honestly reject your theory that there is some kind of conspiracy (as you compare to Hollywood) to keep black people from entry or in limited roles within the food industry. The world we live in is constantly evolving, perhaps not fast enough or progressive enough, but I’ve never seen in my 40 years experience in the restaurant/bar industry any blatant examples of discrimination. I wish I could say the same of my 25 years in the financial world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One thing I will add to support my claims that it’s more a timing issue than a racism one is my personal experience with my daughter’s freshman year at Johnson and Wales. I would say her freshman class was 25-30% African-American or black. (Still can’t decide which the appropriate term to use is). This just furthers my impression that the current lack of diversity which you are pointing out is just a sign of lagging, rather than racism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Let's leave the next conversation about the last bastion of racism to be about Hockey or Wheel of Fortune.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Veggo RE: jrvedivici May 16, 2014 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good post, Jr. But as to Wheel of Fortune, just because Vanna's last name is White you can't hold that against her...:)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Steve RE: jrvedivici May 16, 2014 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A well-reasoned post, thanks for taking the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chowhound is not a place where we come to be hired. It is free and self-selecting; we know that for certain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                WIth food critcs and other industry participants, this is not a given. These are jobs and a paycheck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have no knowledge of a conspiracy, and I don't think I used that term. My reference to Hollywood was to point out that there is serious concern about the lack of color-blind casting. This concern is very much real, so maybe the same applies to the entire food industry?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My casual observation raises that concern. Aside from some names at the top, I see certain types being shut out of the foodie revolution where the money is concerned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see this manifest itself on several levels. Here are some examples:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see this as a restaurant critc trying to accurately guage the flavors of a Bengali family-style restaurant (this is but one example) that uses more oil than their Eurocentric tastebuds find acceptable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also see this as a white restaurant critic ignoring an African-American owned restaurant on the 'wrong side of the tracks.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see this in star rating systems that are patterned after Michelin and favor Eurocentric customs of fine dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I see upscale restuarants that, on a superficial level, appear to eschew color-blind hiring practices. This last part: I am sure this is historically true.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  acgold7 RE: Steve May 16, 2014 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And none of those "superficial" "casual observations" support the inflammatory thread title.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: acgold7 May 16, 2014 10:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The inflammatory thread title is based on the low-to-zero percentage of non-whites as restaurant critics in newspapers and magazines.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      acgold7 RE: Steve May 16, 2014 10:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And customers and staff (and actors for some unrelated reason). Are you backing away from the assertions in the post or just being disingenuous?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: acgold7 May 16, 2014 11:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The thread title is based on my first assertion. I do not seriously believe that the rest is truly the 'Last Great Bastion of Racism.' That would be extreme. But it is applicable for restaurant critics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I point out Hollywood movies because of certain similarities - there are a handful of African-American box offcie celebrites who have enough clout to star in the movies. I figured there are probably some black Celebrity Chefs to start a list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But drill down a little deeper and is it possible that black people are not seen very much as hosts in upscale restaurants? When I go to one of those new-fangled open kitchen restaurants, are they devoid of African Amercans? Just like in many Holywood movies, drill down and you will see that black actors beyond the stars have a tough time getting good roles that are not race-specific.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also, I've spent quite a bit of my professonal life in the theatre and some television, so I am aware of the questions concerned with color-blind casting. If you are white, it takes some effort to think of roles in a different way than you are used to. I would not be surprised if hiring in other endeavors is similar.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sandylc RE: Steve May 16, 2014 12:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Regarding starring roles in movies, women are underrepresented, despite having a slight edge population-wise.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: sandylc May 16, 2014 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh yeah, it's a big problem, no doubt. And then once you get to African-American women..... it's a tiny, tiny pool.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    jrvedivici RE: Steve May 16, 2014 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you don't mind me asking for my own edification, are you black or white Steve?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Steve RE: jrvedivici May 16, 2014 10:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am white Steve.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        chowser RE: Steve May 16, 2014 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So much for the assertion:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Interesting thread and one I would expect would already be locked if it were started by me or my white counterparts. "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9757...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ding, ding, white counterpart alert. Lock the thread now!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mcf RE: jrvedivici May 16, 2014 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LOL... punctuation, it's a bitch. ;-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cowboyardee RE: Steve May 16, 2014 11:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "I see this in star rating systems that are patterned after Michelin and favor Eurocentric customs of fine dining"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ______
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is it possible that the customs of fine dining are inherently somewhat Eurocentric?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some or possibly even most food cultures may not have any traditional systems of expensive restaurants producing their food in a luxurious setting in the first place. Whereas expensive, multi-course, and immaculately presented meals served alongside very expensive beverages* have traditional origins in some Western European cuisines, many other cuisines might lack this tradition entirely**. This might explain partially why fine dining has generally been Eurocentric and also perhaps why Japanese cuisine has recently also had success in fine dining markets in the West, since Japanese cuisine has its own fine dining traditions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        *Let's not forget that the pushing of wine sales with very high profit margins has a lot to do with why fine dining is a viable business model in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ** I make no claims to expertise about the traditions of various world cuisines here. From my limited knowledge, it seems to me that, say, Southern soul food, Mexican cuisine, Indian cuisine, Thai, Vietnamese, or various others are more often represented as kinds of food traditionally sold by smaller vendors in a less formal environment. While nearly all cuisines have some form that was traditionally served to very wealthy members of the society in question, that's doesn't necessarily make for an established business model that translates into fine dining restaurants (see the above comment on wines).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OTOH, if these and other cuisines do have their own entrenched histories of some form of 'fine dining,' I'd be happy to be enlightened.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bellachefa RE: jrvedivici May 16, 2014 08:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        reminds me of the classic Jackie Mason bit on Jews and basketball.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Isolda RE: Steve May 16, 2014 11:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would love to believe that there is a "last great bastion of racism," but I'm afraid racism, like poverty, is going to be with us for a long time.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pedalfaster RE: Isolda May 16, 2014 11:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Agree.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, possibly too "big" of a topic for Chowhounds to resolve?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heck we can't even agree on pizza toppings. Or cookware.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Withnail42 RE: Steve May 16, 2014 11:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          'negro food writers'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Was this thread started beck in the 1950's?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JAB RE: Withnail42 May 16, 2014 12:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes: http://www.glennbeck.com/

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steve RE: Withnail42 May 16, 2014 12:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've been following Stew's band, The Negro Problem, recently so that was my inspiration for using the word:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyipgW...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Aramek RE: Steve May 16, 2014 12:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "If they clandestinely banned black people at your favorite restaurant, when would you realize? If they refused to hire black hosts or hostesses, would you know? Or would your first inkling be on the 5 o'clock news?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wouldn't. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2010 Census says that only 2.7% of my city's population is black. (Only 1.2% for the state as a whole.) Which is a bummer. I see "foodie" black people sometimes at the Indian place I like, so, that's something.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. chowser RE: Steve May 16, 2014 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releas...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. carolinadawg RE: Steve May 16, 2014 03:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A Caucasian American should never use the word "negro". Never.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Veggo RE: carolinadawg May 16, 2014 04:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are some amusing exceptions. I'm a white haired Danish-American who has lived off and on in Mexico since 1996, and I was so tanned up when I obtained my FM3 retirement visa there that my skin color is described as "negro".

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      JAB RE: Veggo May 16, 2014 04:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But, wouldn't that be "nay gdrow" and not "knee grow"?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Veggo RE: JAB May 16, 2014 04:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Phonetically you are correct. The spelling is the same. I would like to keep this light and lively and amusing, if possible.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          JAB RE: Veggo May 16, 2014 04:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In that vein, I saw a documentary on what was supposed to be people of African decent in Mexico. They found some dark skinned people in Mexico who identified as "nay gdrow" but, not one time did they ask them if they believed if they were descendants from Africa. It was frustratingly amusing to watch. As an aside, they didn't have "African features".

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Veggo RE: JAB May 16, 2014 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are very few of African descent in Mexico. Numerous Garifuna settled in nearby Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, few in Mexico.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They cook neat stuff.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              sandylc RE: Veggo May 16, 2014 04:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are a lot of African immigrants in Brazil and Colombia. Same sad origins as happened in the U.S., if remember my history correctly.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Veggo RE: sandylc May 16, 2014 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, and Trinidad & Tobago also.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JAB RE: Veggo May 16, 2014 05:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And all of the islands.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  carolinadawg RE: sandylc May 16, 2014 05:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, Brazil didn't outlaw slavery until 1888, the last country in the Western Hemisphere to do so.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sandylc RE: JAB May 16, 2014 04:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't get the whole "African American" thing. I don't call myself

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "English Scotch Native American German Etc American."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I understand that sometimes people need to describe the appearance of other people for practical purposes. "She has red hair." "You'll be looking for a guy with black hair, about 6'2" ". Like so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe if we need to describe a non-Euro-centric person, it will be someday OK to just describe them as they are, without deciding that there is any possible divisive terminology.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But can you imagine the outcry if I was to say, "he has chocolate skin and a wide, flat nose", or "she has eyes that tilt up and her skin is kind of caramel-y".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The whole issue almost twists around on itself to the point where the people who are willing to honestly say someone has dark skin is the non-racist (because they see nothing wrong with having dark skin), and the person who is offended by this description is the racist (because they think that saying someone has dark skin is akin to saying they are inferior).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JAB RE: sandylc May 16, 2014 04:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You responded to me and I didn't use the term "African American" in the post that you responded to?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sandylc RE: JAB May 16, 2014 04:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry - just a general statement thrown in randomly - not aimed at you!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      JAB RE: sandylc May 16, 2014 04:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      NP

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        James Cristinian RE: sandylc May 16, 2014 05:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We have a black guy at work, super person, who refuses to be identified as African-American. He says he is American and proud of it, not African at all. I'm second generation Polish, not Polish-American, just American.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Glicoman RE: James Cristinian May 16, 2014 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And that is one of the privileges of being white. If you're American of asian ancestry and identify yourself as American, the usual response will be "No, what are you really?" Hence the hyphenation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            James Cristinian RE: Glicoman May 16, 2014 08:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I work with a lot of Asians and I never thought to ask that, what are you really. I work closely with a guy whose parents are Vietnamese and Mexican. What do I call him? He's American to me and he just served in the US Army recently with all that implies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              chowser RE: James Cristinian May 17, 2014 05:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But that's you. Ask anyone who is Asian and I'd be surprised if they haven't been asked often. "No. where are you really from?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWynJk...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hill food RE: chowser May 17, 2014 08:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                somehow this came up at a family dinner once so I asked a niece and nephew of mine who are part Asian and part Anglo once how they deal with those ID boxes on forms, they box every one that seems appropriate if allowed, or just check 'other' and don't really think about it much after the initial annoyance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            chowser RE: James Cristinian May 16, 2014 06:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The hyphenation unfortunately has come to stand for race. When I was in school, races were identified as Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid. We had checklists of each and had to go down and identify each other. Thankfully things have evolved. However, we haven't solved the problem yet.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        chowser RE: sandylc May 16, 2014 04:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In high school, we discussed Othello and that he was supposedly a dark skinned Moor. Our English teacher said he was coffee colored but Hollywood always portrayed him lighter because people felt it was more acceptable (this was in the 70's). Of course, being high schoolers, people asked how many creams in the coffee? We decided then that it would be more accurate to describe people by how many creams they are than by "white, "black', etc., especially because some whites are darker skinned than blacks. It seems appropriate, though the number of creams I am changes seasonally and whether I'm on vacation or not.;-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sandylc RE: chowser May 16, 2014 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ha. We should have a chart. I would be skimmed milk, no coffee at all, with freckles and blue-red undertones. Much less attractive than a nice cappuccino.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: chowser May 16, 2014 05:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just to keep this as food-centric as possible, white rice and black beans mixed together in Cuba are called 'christianos y moros.'

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf RE: sandylc May 16, 2014 05:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "The whole issue almost twists around on itself to the point where the people who are willing to honestly say someone has dark skin is the non-racist (because they see nothing wrong with having dark skin),"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is nothing racist about describing a person accurately if it's relevant, called for in context and not derogatory or gratuitous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Racism isn't about seeing and acknowledging color or other differences between folks, it's about how people and institutions interpret, interact and respond to it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      carolinadawg RE: Veggo May 16, 2014 04:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You still shouldn't identify African Americans as "negroes" in everyday conversation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Veggo RE: carolinadawg May 16, 2014 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          carolinadawg RE: Veggo May 16, 2014 05:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Then I don't understand your previous post.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Veggo RE: carolinadawg May 16, 2014 05:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My Mexican retirement visa described my skin color as negro. If you can't understand that, I can't help.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              chowser RE: Veggo May 16, 2014 05:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's interesting that "black" as a skin color as transcended languages since no one is really black. Why not marron? Cafe con crema? Not asking you about linguistics but just asking in general. It's the same in Chinese. What about other languages?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Veggo RE: chowser May 16, 2014 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I asked the immigration officer to fill in both my skin color and hair color. Eyes are blue, no facial hair.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                carolinadawg RE: Veggo May 16, 2014 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I said "no (white) person should use the term negro to described African Americans..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You said "there are some...exceptions."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That implies you think it's ok for whites to use the term negro to describe African Americans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then you said you don't described African Americans as negroes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's confusing. If you can't understand that, then I can't help you.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: carolinadawg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Veggo RE: carolinadawg May 16, 2014 05:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I said there are some exceptions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Me, being described as negro.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nothing more.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    carolinadawg RE: Veggo May 17, 2014 05:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's not an exception to what I said.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                gaffk RE: carolinadawg May 16, 2014 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In Spanish, black = "negro." My cat = "evil cat" (Malgato). I would never use either in polite conversation among English-speakers; but damn Malgato is a clawer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        beevod RE: Steve May 16, 2014 05:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dear Aunt Jemima, where are you when we need you.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          carolinadawg RE: beevod May 16, 2014 05:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          She's busy writing her pancake blog!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: beevod May 16, 2014 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She's getting her manicure at 나무 nail salon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. trolley RE: Steve May 17, 2014 07:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            go to Oakland steve. it's a pretty mixed bag bc that's how Oaktown rolls. I have a friend who is of African" descent and has many friends in restaurant/pastry world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.chow.com/food-news/150579/...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              karenfinan RE: trolley May 19, 2014 07:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was going to say the same thing, most of the places I go to in Oakland have mixed clientele it is very refreshing, and I think it is the exception, not the norm.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ospreycove RE: Steve May 17, 2014 07:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What restaurant did Calvin Trillin remark, "...possibly the single best restaurant in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yup, the Black owned, Arthur Bryant's, (now deceased), but the tradition continues, and has expanded with viable other, to use Steve's description, "Negro" owned competitors in K.C. Mo.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kris in Beijing RE: ospreycove May 17, 2014 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you for supporting the high/ low chef/cook white tablecloth vs. soul food assertion.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As Arthur Bryant's isn't classified as "fine dining" and would be hard pressed to be considered for a Michelin Star, it's more proof of Steve's foodie-racism argument.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Indy 67 RE: Kris in Beijing May 17, 2014 01:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "As Arthur Bryant's isn't classified as "fine dining" and would be hard pressed to be considered for a Michelin Star, it's more proof of Steve's foodie-racism argument..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The requirements to get a star include many that have nothing to the food. Three off these requirements include:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ... the material used for the tile in the bathrooms,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ... the dimensions of the napkins and the tablecloths
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ... the weight of the cloth napkins

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The are plenty of chefs of all races and nationalities who think that Michelin measures irrelevant aspects of a meal. This group makes the active choice to keep themselves ineligible by keeping their focus on the food that leaves their kitchen and not on the non-food things Michelin declares to be important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do you know for a fact that Arthur Bryant's follows every element of the Michelin rubric and still doesn't have a star?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If so, the restaurant is in good company. Go to the France board any time after the new Michelin stars get announced and read the regular posters gnashing their teeth of the latest outrage. (This year, again, Spring was passed over.) Those threads always include lots of examples of the capriciousness and arbitrariness of the Michelin selection process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If Arthur Bryant's isn't meeting the objective Michelin standards (e.g. marble tiles in the bathroom), your claim that the absence of a star says more about your seeing what you want to see than cold facts. Light-weight cloth napkins or -- gasp -- polyester napkins make your restaurant ineligible. Full stop. Non-negotiable. Nothing to do with racism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: Indy 67 May 17, 2014 02:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Reading aloud Michelin standards can be done in an objective manner, but in no way are the standards themselves objective. They are a very effective way of excluding anyplace that doesn't conform to the Euro paradigm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sure, Bengalis serving family style meals of goat curry could put in marble bathrooms. Just like a school system could demand their plumbers have college degrees, but the latter is considered discriminatory and indeed racist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And I very much consider any star system based on Michelin to be racist.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      girloftheworld RE: Steve May 17, 2014 04:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Sure, Bengalis serving family style meals of goat curry could put in marble bathrooms. Just like a school system could demand their plumbers have college degrees, "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      respectfully disagree on this being an equal analogy. The Michelin Star does stand for a style and type of dining.It is a signpost for people looking for a particular exernince the same as when someone buys a designer dress...or famous maker car.It has been vetted by a standard.Does that mean that there are not equally as fabulous restraunts out there?Absoulutly not. But those fabulous places are going to thrive and exist beyond lable consious and conpicious consummers. Is it racism? No not really. It is a matter of style. SwanLake Is a style of Ballet. The problem is not Michelin tradition but the lack of other rating systems which are more inclusive and seem to hold so much wow factor. Personally I look to see if a chef has a James Beard.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To compare it to plumbers having college degrees is silly( by the way the training and certification a plumber has to go through is not exactly a skip through the daisys and your remark could be considered quite classist)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: girloftheworld May 17, 2014 07:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ok, you make a good point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think people mostly want the assurance they are eating great food, and that is what Michelin is selling them. But this filters down to the rest of the press who have star systems and give bonus points for tablecloths, stemware, and other elements of class-conscious dining. Or is there a Michelin restaurant that doesn't serve wine? Kind of excludes Muslims....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BTW, I do not belittle the knowledge plumbers need.... but there are plenty of people who would like to set up economic barriers in hiring if they could get away with it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PhilD RE: Steve May 17, 2014 08:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Steve - I know of a Michelin place which doesn't sell booze. I also know of restaurants run by Muslims that do sell booze. So I don't see that excludes anyone who cooks to the required standard.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: PhilD May 18, 2014 04:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think your answer is oblivious to the many very real concerns in and out of the foodle world - just like I can name Hollywood stars that are black, does not mean that there is no racism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There was a time when a fine dining establishment might discreetly slip a note to a black customer asking them not to return. And I'm not talking about Jim Crow where, by law, they would be legally excluded. I am noting that the entire foodie world is advancing very rapidlly and wondering if the proverbial note- especially stars given out by newspapers- is still well and alive. I just happen to think it start off with restaurant critics and their star systems.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cowboyardee RE: Steve May 17, 2014 09:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It would be very hard to make food fussy enough to meet michelin requirements without that restaurant serving alcohol. Because its the alcohol sales that actually bring in the money at most fine dining establishments.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              PhilD RE: cowboyardee May 17, 2014 10:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lots of Michelin places sell quite simple food. Its weird there is such a misunderstanding of Michelin. Is it because it only covers a few cities in the US and thus few people have actually eaten in a Michelin starred restaurant?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Its also worth remembering that Michelin also has 'bibs" as well as stars - the bibs recognise restaurants which deliver inexpensive meals (I think its €30 for three course in France these days).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know the NYC restaurants well but from my quick scan of the 2014 Michelin list it has: seven 3 stars one with a Japanese chef, another with a Mexican chef; with the five 2 stars, two are Korean and one is Japanese; and of the fifty three 1 stars it appears from the names twelve are Asian (including one Indian) and a number seem to be bars where you can sit at the bar to eat - so not all stuffy with linen on the table (I didn't visit the websites of all 53 to see if there are more).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think this sort of data refutes your argument that only classical European food gets stars and only chefs from certain cultures get recognised by Michelin.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                cowboyardee RE: PhilD May 18, 2014 08:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "I think this sort of data refutes your argument that only classical European food gets stars and only chefs from certain cultures get recognised by Michelin."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ________
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's not really the argument I made. Rather, I think Michelin is focused specifically on fine dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                'Well, duh,' you might reply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also think that fine dining restaurants are, in a sense, their own genre of food. And that genre itself tends to take many or most of its conventions from European and Japanese cuisines, both of which have a strong tradition of fine dining institutions. Calling Momofuku Ko or Jungsik 'Korean' restaurants is a telling example - the food at either one bears a much closer resemblance to Western fine dining than they do to traditional Korean cuisine. They're fusion restaurants operating in a fine dining format, albeit with Korean ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Perhaps a more useful way of looking at fine dining is as a rough kind of business model. Selling food that is labor and skill intensive to prepare presents a kind of problem: it's tough to profit from. Fine dining restaurants employ a business model that most often uses drink sales to support a menu that is nearly (or at times entirely) unprofitable on its own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                OTOH, you can also sell food that takes a lot of skill and work to prepare by specializing, selling a very narrow range of items, hopefully streamlining the production process. If you want great barbecue, or great ramen, or great Singaporean style chicken rice, or great pho, or great Neapolitan style pizza, or even great tacos, you don't go to a fine dining restaurant. You go to some hole in the wall that specializes in these foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It doesn't matter how good the food is at these specialists - Michelin doesn't review them. I'm not even arguing that they should. Rather, I'm arguing this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1) Some cuisines aren't traditionally prepared in a fine dining format (though they are sometimes fusion-ized into one)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2) These cuisines can be just as interesting, worthwhile, and demanding of skill as any fine dining restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3) People who are successful cooking these cuisines don't get the same kind of exposure as those who are successful cooking fine dining.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PhilD RE: cowboyardee May 18, 2014 06:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cowboy - my reply was covering a few bases. One of which was the implication the star system helped perpetuate a stereotyped style of food that excluded some from success. So my points were, firstly, the percieved financial barriers to get a Michelin star are really unfounded. And secondly starred chefs all seem to be from a similar background, I think the stats refute that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do slightly agree with your point about the different styles of dining (I enjoy the full spectrum) as there is an orthodoxy here. My theory of food styles is that highly evolved cuisines tend to come from geographies once ruled by monarchs, and often with empires e.g French/European, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Thai. The royal courts facilitated the evolution of "fine dining" and these countries/regions food traditions evolved from them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However these days good food is a broad church and I can't believe anyone who is really passionate about food can't appreciate the full spectrum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do think you are wrong in your statement "...it doesn't matter how good the food is at these specialists - Michelin doesn't review them." I believe it does, not only with their "Bib" designation which covers a lot of these types of specialist but also there are starred restaurants with a singular focus - there is a dim sum place close to where I lie with one star, and lots of very narrowly focussed Sushi places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do you really think that those specialists don't get recognition. I see lots of press/blogs about them and lots of guides and recommendations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of my observations though is that there is subtle type of racism at work, its far from explicit, and definitely not recognised but it may still have a detrimental effect on chefs/restauranteurs from certain cultures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The issue to me is that for a "ethnic" cuisine to be real and authentic it can't be served in a nice restaurant, its only good if its served from a cart or hole in the wall. Chefs who "go upmarket" with their Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese etc etc food "have sold out". To me this pigeon holes talented people, its a subtle barrier to them evolving their businesses, because to be real (and thus good) its gotr to be grungy..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yet you go to the countries many of these chefs come from and the locals like a decent restaurant as much as anyone else. The food tourist only wants to eat street food, whilst the locals are keen to eat in nice restaurants with air conditioning and clean facilities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  People swear the best food in Bangkok, Vietnam, Singapore etc etc is from street carts or in hawker centres. And yes some of it is really great and was developed and designed to do that (just like like US hotdogs). But these countries also have great chefs who are delivering great food in traditional restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But the western foodie ignores them because they are not real. And holding peoples economic development and not giving them recognition because they are pigeon holed into a "cheap" category is just as bad as any explicit racism and has just as much a material effect.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    cowboyardee RE: PhilD May 19, 2014 09:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "there is a dim sum place close to where I lie with one star, and lots of very narrowly focussed Sushi places."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    _____
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You're kind of splitting hairs. For any generalization, there is usually an exception. In the case of sushi, Michelin has made room for the archetype; dim sum is seldom recognized, though that's not to say it never is. And though either one is a somewhat different archetype than fine dining, they're not exactly strong representatives of the kind of pared down food specialist I was writing about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's not a matter of whether Michelin has ever, anywhere, recognized X, Y, and Z cuisines. Rather, the point is that working in X, Y, or Z cuisines make it less likely that you'll get recognition, and often less likely that you'll be eligible for that kind of recognition (if you don't actually work in a restaurant with waitstaff, for example).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Do you really think that those specialists don't get recognition"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ______
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Comparatively speaking, well... yeah. Name me the most famous person you can think of who specializes in selling ridiculously delicious tacos. Now, do they have the media exposure, income, and fame of Rick Bayless or Bobby Flay? Or compare David Chang to the owners of the best ramen shops in NYC, bearing in mind that Chang started off trying to run a specialized ramen shop, and was forced to broaden his menu (only at this point did he gain exposure) because there was already better ramen in NYC, among other reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "The issue to me is that for a "ethnic" cuisine to be real and authentic it can't be served in a nice restaurant, its only good if its served from a cart or hole in the wall."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ______
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree that this attitude exists, and does tend to pigeonhole people working in some cuisines. But I tend to think of it as only the flip side of the same coin that elevates masters of fine dining above other people making equally good food. In either case, diners have crystallized notions about how a food and the context it's served in relate to each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Many 'ethnic' foods should be served in humble surroundings or they're not authentic."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    vs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Fine dining is more refined and takes greater mastery to cook than most 'ethnic' foods."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    IMO, these notions go hand in hand.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PhilD RE: cowboyardee May 19, 2014 09:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I will go in reverse order if I may. I think fine ding is more refined etc. but I also think "ethnic" food cooked to the same standards can be fine dining. I believe that is a fundamentally a different point because much ethnic good isn't cooked that eel, and uses cheap ingredients or substitute ingredients. When it is its a revelation. It may taste good but it can be better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Recognition does come in different forms. Part of it probably depends on what you read and the nature of the assessment. But these days is quite easy to find the best of many types of food. It is interesting to debate why some make it and others don't I am certain its not race, but there are clearly other things in play sometimes its serendipity sometimes its talent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Finally, is recognition a factor of aspiration? Michelin recognises Indian restaurants in London as they have got a lot better. It recognises lots of Dim Sum places in Hong Kong, and recognises lots of Sushi places in Japan. Is working in X, Y, Z cuisine not going to get you recognition because no one has pushed the boundaries yet and could that be a bias amongst the dining public that they won't pay for the elements that deliver consistent quality...(back to my point that many expect "ethnic" to be cheap to be real).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: PhilD May 20, 2014 03:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "uses cheap ingredients or substitute ingredients."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Whatever ingredients they are using, they are often using recipes based on those ingredients that have been developed over a very long period of time and have discovered a deliciousness that is impossible to top. This is why for someone like me, restaurants that try to fancify their tacos fail miserably. It is once again applying a Euro paradigm (ahh, if only we could be eating lobster) to a cuisine that has a distinct aesthetic. A restaurant critic needs to adapt to the aesthetic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PhilD RE: Steve May 20, 2014 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Steve - I think you missed the point I was making.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cooking these cuisines thousands of miles from "home" challenges a restaurant to source ingredients. Vegetables, fruit, spices and herbs maybe difficult or impossible to source i.e. the recent ban on importing Alphonso mangoes to the EU.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If they are imported they maybe less than fresh as few places can afford to airfreight specialist ingredients - think of how quickly sichuan peppers lose their taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Meats are going to be different. In the home countries chickens, pigs etc are likely to be free range. Seafood and shellfish maybe cheap and plentiful. Or mutton or goat may be the standard (far better flavour than young lamb). But all these ingredients are also premium ingredients in the US/US so the local restaurant substitutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Certainly what they produce is delicious if that is only what you know and love. But to say "they are often using recipes based on those ingredients that have been developed over a very long period of time" is a little naive given the challenges I outlined above....they simply can't access he same ingredients so they substitute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I used to eat really delicious Indian food in a Bangladeshi neighbourhood where I lived as a student. it was the best curry in the world, the cafes were full of locals and it was so authentic. Roll forward a few years and second generation India restauranteurs have gone upmarket. Their ingredient quality has improved, they can import the correct ingredients etc etc. and guess what - its even more delicious. And now years later when I regularly visit India I realise the food I had as a student was the cheap food of the poor, it wasn't the window of great Indian food that I thought it was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am not saying that these places substitute European ingredients like lobster and foie gras (although lob set curries on the beach in Goa ain't bad), I am simply saying this food often gets better if it uses the real ingredients from "home".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And again I repeat the argument, I believe pidgeon holing these 'delicious" hole in the wall places by expecting them to be cheap and only use cheap low quality ingredients is in it self potentially unintentional racism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9lives RE: PhilD May 20, 2014 05:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I live near and eat regularly in Boston's Chinatown. Most of the restaurants are inexpensive and many would fall into the "hole in the wall" category. the food is mostly delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They are in fact using less expensive and chicken or beef than I normally purchase.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The overall dish in an inexpensive restaurant is inherently limited to the quality of the ingredients used.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If I want to take the time and prepare the dish using USDA Prime beef or Giannone (premium or local raised) chicken, the dish tastes better to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think that makes me guilty of any type of racism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've had the same experience with other cuisines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cheaper, lower quality ingredients are often used due to the economics of running a profitable restaurant. I don't have those constraints when purchasing ingredients for my personal consumption.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              chowser RE: 9lives May 20, 2014 05:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As you say, you're frequenting inexpensive restaurants that might use cheaper cuts. If you picked nicer dim sum places, you could get better quality food. If you went to a Chinese banquet, it would be far pricier and all about quality. You can't compare a mass produced, inexpensive dim sum, as you say, to what you make at home but you also can't draw that out to an entire cuisine.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                9lives RE: chowser May 20, 2014 06:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Agree completely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are a few places here that specialize in "live seafood" and they offer very high quality and are priced accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't mean to draw it to the entire cuisine; just what's most readily available to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I know the Michelin guide has been mentioned on this thread. I'd guess that there are Chinese restaurants in the world that are serving food at that level.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Steve RE: 9lives May 20, 2014 08:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  First, Chinese cuisine is not monolithic. So let's tallk about Sichuanese cusine. I can name some places that serve many, many superb dishes. Meals that will be just as great an experience as any starred restaurant. But they will never be given the same respect as an ok French restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And then once you get to Soul Food or Jamaican, or Senegalese or...... these places are mostly ignored.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PhilD RE: Steve May 21, 2014 02:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve when i lived in Sydney I ate great cheap Sichuan food, I loved it. I moved to China and realised what I loved was pretty mediocre. I visited London and tried some hot sichuan places loved by bloggers. They were pretty average.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last year I spent a week in Chengdu and at lots of street food plus some grand sichuan banquets. Trust me it can get to be really good, really sophisticated, and so much better than anything outside Sichuan. I think half the problem with the hoe in the wall "deliciousness test" is that its only as good as the relative tastes off the diner....its far far from an absolute. If you are poorly travelled you may overate pretty average stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I didn't get to "Yu's Family Kitchen" which can set you back US$150 a head - and that is a foodie pilgrimage so not really fair to say Sichuan is not given the respect that other top restaurants get. Chengdi is home to one of China's top culinary institutes/universities "The Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine" so the food is taken very seriously.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Steve RE: PhilD May 21, 2014 05:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "its only as good as the relative tastes off the diner"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, that's always the case, no matter what food you are talking about. Embracing the aesthetic is the first step.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        beetlebug RE: PhilD May 21, 2014 07:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've been following this thread with interest but don't really want to jump in any great depth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've been to Yu's Family Kitchen back in 2009. It was fantastic. I don't usually eat at a lot of high end restaurants but I do know a fair amount about chinese food. What Yu Bo has done is elevated the chinese food from various regions not only through technique and ingredients but with careful and artful plating. The meal was just beautifully presented. It was a combination of family style and individual dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I found the restaurant via Fuchsia Dunlop's food memoir and while it may be a foodie pilgrimage, I don't think the restaurant has gotten nearly enough praise as it should. Has it won any awards? I'm not sure but don't think it has. In this example, I'm not ready to state that it is racism. It seems that the stars and awards, overall, are Euro centric though. But, I do think part of the lack of recognition is because the restaurant is located in a further region of China. Not off the beaten path but not a regular tourist jaunt of Shanghai, Beijing, HK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I went there for the food and pandas (and not necessarily in that order). But even 5 years later, that meal is still lodged in my brain for deliciousness and beauty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Short story - PhilD, go back to ChengDu to eat here and to hug a panda.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PhilD RE: beetlebug May 21, 2014 05:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't think Michelin covers the PRC yet, in fact few guides do so I think that's the reason it doesn't get mentioned much.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PhilD RE: 9lives May 21, 2014 02:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I live in Hong Kong so not surprisingly we have 3 Michelin three star Chinese restaurants in HK and Macau and 10 two stars plus a whole range on one stars.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9lives RE: PhilD May 21, 2014 03:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wasn't doubting that Chinese food can be sophisticated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        After I post ended, I notice there are some Michelin starred Chinese restaurants in NY as well as Hong Kong. I'm sure the food is wonderful and would happily try them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        maybe I misunderstood you. My post was. Directed at and questioning the statement about inherent racism. The inexpensive "holes in the wall" using lower quality ingredients can be good but can't rise to the level of higher end Chinese places that use premium ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No different than an "American" restaurant that uses USDA select grade beef and lower quality inexpensive ingredient than a place that is using higher quality ingredients and the difference in the overall quality of the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not saying that Chinese cuisine can't or doesn't achieve the high levels..just that I don't see racism in stating that better ingredients generally result in better meals; regardless of the cuisine.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Steve RE: 9lives May 21, 2014 05:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          'The inexpensive "holes in the wall" using lower quality ingredients can be good but can't rise to the level of higher end Chinese places that use premium ingredients"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That sounds like a pre-conceived notion. You are walking into that resturant with that bias. I do not have that attitiude. I walk into a hole-in-the-wall and I think I might have the best food in the world, just like I would walking into a grandiose restaurant.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PhilD RE: 9lives May 21, 2014 05:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9lives - I still think we are missing each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The issue I have is the expectation for foodies that real/authentic "ethnic" food must be cheap to be real etc etc. So if they start using better ingredients and prices rise they lose their authenticity and credibility.....i.e they go mainstream and are no longer at the foodie frontier. And as they go "mainstream" the foodies lose interest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So they are in a catch 22 situation, if they work to improve they risk losing the support that makes them famous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            With 'American" restaurants there isn't this dogma. The foodie public accept that better quality often means more expensive. Its the difference in these perspectives that I question.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steve RE: PhilD May 21, 2014 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your analysis goes against the single most common complaint you hear about so-called 'ethnic' restaurants: it's too spicy. So the restaurant dumbs down the food and risks alienating their very own community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              All Chinese and Thai restaurants have long figure out how to get around this dilemma, the secret menu. There are numerous threads on this already. Makes everyone happy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PhilD RE: Steve May 21, 2014 06:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Conversely I find that when they go "up market" they regain the spice levels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Often the first generation immigrants start the restaurants and tailor to the local market preference. The second generation then takes over, understands segmentation and move it forward by going more "real" (they understand the well travelled appreciate the real deal and are often more able to pay).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hence, the evolution of regional restaurants for the Chinese, Thai and indian monolithic cuisines ;-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                9lives RE: PhilD May 22, 2014 11:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think I hear what you are saying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just outside of Boston, there was a fabulous Cambodian hole in the wall..Floating Rock. It was a CH favorite and many of us got together there for meals. They were Ina community with lots of Cambodians and seemed to do a good biz. One of the highlight dishes was Tiger Tears, a beef salad. The beef used was not great quality but the veggies were and the flavors were fantastic. Blyob..no liquor license

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The owner moved to a much larger space in a "more desirable" location..full liquor. The food was good but a little dumbed down as far as heat. Big bar with fancy drinks. They soon were out of business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                At the same time, aPan Asian restaurant opened in an even nicer part of town. Meyers & Chang. Tiger tears were on the menu, using a better quality of meat, a sliced flank steak. Prices were somewhat higher but after paying travel expenses, not a whole lot more than the original Cambodian hole in the wall. With a little added heat the Tiger tears were fantastic. The chef/owner, Joanne Chang is a FW "star chef" and has several excellent places in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The original "hole in the wall" reopened under anew name and ownership and is still worth a trip. The Tiger Tears are great but still not as good as the trendier place using better beef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                maybe that indicates how difficult it can be for ethnic restaurants to go upscale and keep their original customer base.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shame about the original FR, really nice people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ps, referring to the dog thread on NAF, I took my newly adopted cat there for his first meal after picking him up at the nearby MSPCa. He was in his carrying case on the patio andhad little interest in Pan Asian food..:). The customers sitting nearby loved him.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PhilD RE: 9lives May 21, 2014 02:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9lives - maybe my writing wasn't clear. How you cook something is your business and good on you for doing it. And you hit the nail on the head with "The overall dish in an inexpensive restaurant is inherently limited to the quality of the ingredients used".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My point was that people who only seem to appreciate the "ethnic" restaurants if they are cheap (so not you). Then they say they chefs are selling out if they aspire to improve the quality of the food, add more innovative dishes and use more expensive ingredients to give a real taste of that country.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Further, they imply "ethnic" restaurants are no longer real if they move up market and others are fools to go to them, the people in the know understand the best food is from the grotty hole in the wall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I see this all the time in blogs and other writings and to me its implication is that these chefs can't be as good and successful as the top chefs unless they sell out......so foodie expectations hold people back.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ennuisans RE: PhilD May 20, 2014 06:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm reminded of a complaint I read a few years back: why can't restaurants charge more than a dollar for a taco?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They can, of course, but it's pretty ingrained that tacos are cheap fast food. If I'm paying $3 for one typical taco that happens to have better quality ingredients, my cheap American brain is going to fuss about it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Steve RE: ennuisans May 20, 2014 08:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i had some tacos in Carpinteria, CA that made me weak at the knees. They cost about a dollar per. The more expensive 'foodie' tacos can't touch that kind of excellence:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          First - a completely life affirming taqueria in Carpenteria, next to a 7-11, Rincon Alteno. Holy Moley, this place had my head spinning, I couldn't believe it. Four of the tacos were each as good as the other other: pastor, cabezas, tripas, carnitas. The carnitas were amazingly rich. If you think you don't like tripe, or would like to try it for the first time, this is definitely the place to go. The best tripe I've ever had. Tacos de lengua were also very good. I ate there for both lunch and dinner; I simply had to return.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PhilD RE: Steve May 21, 2014 02:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Quod erat demonstrandum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I great to hear about a good $1 taco but isn't there so so much more to Mexican food - one of the great cuisines of the world? Eulogising so much about the $1 taco seems to be pigeon holing this great food as cheap roadside snacks - no matter how delicious of life changing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And before you say it good to remember that Mexican food is not monolithic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              9lives RE: PhilD May 21, 2014 03:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Again, I can make tacos using supermarket beef or I can make them using USDA prime. Obviously, the latter tastes better to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I can have a fish taco made with frozen, pre breaded filets or 1 from fresh caught Atlantic cod, or fresh caught whatever. Other things being equal, It's obvious which taco will taste better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is without getting into the topic of more sophisticated MX cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To be fair, this reflects my experience in Boston and reflects the economics of the local fishing industry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I spend some time in South Baja, MX. The economics of fishing are different. A $1 taco off a street cart/hole in the wall is using the same fish as a $3+ taco in nicer restaurant. That extra few $ is likely going into decor or view.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Steve RE: 9lives May 21, 2014 06:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And tacos de lengua? Tripa? Cabezas? I didn't realize there was a USDA Prime stamp on buche..... or that I could tell the difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree that fish is one area where getting a whole carp in your shweijuyu in China is above and beyond what you will find in the States, but this problem does not always tranlsate to every dish as cooking techniques and certain dishes actualy taste better with cheaper cuts of meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've done this in my kitchen with casserole dishes. Some recipes lend themselves better to the inexpensive, and substituting more expensive ingredients is a disappointment.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  9lives RE: Steve May 21, 2014 06:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Agree that cheaper cuts are "better" for certain dishes than more expensive cuts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Inferior ingredients don't taste better than higher quality ingredients, to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To stick with your lengua example, I usually have it with pico de gallo or another salsa. If I use supermarket tomatoes shipped in from wherever vs fresh grown local tomatoes, I enjoy the dish more

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: 9lives May 21, 2014 07:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't assume anything, becuae not only do I substitite in my own kitchen, but I have seen that in restaurants. Same restaurant, same dish, same prep, and the cheaper cut of meat can taste better. Sometimes the more expensive ingredient tastes better. Yeah, the best papusa I've ever eaten was probably at a rather fancy restaurant that made it with pumpkin. It was great!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But I try to take each place on its own aestheitc. Only a handful of dishes anywhere are great, and I can't tell you that spending more will lead you to more deliciousness. It doesn't in DC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The problem with racism comes into play when assumptions are made or paradigms are strictly adhered to, and then I have to ask myself the question if I am falling into a trap. Have I painted myself into a corner with an attitiude?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Honestly, I don't know the answer, even with myself, but it's important to drill down and see how far the atiitude permeates and who it affects.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      9lives RE: Steve May 21, 2014 07:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think you're over complicating what I posted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't how what racism has to do with my assertion that a fresh picked local grown tomato is tastier than a standard supermarket tomato that has been shipped across the country. It doesn't make any difference whether that tomato is eaten at a roadside stand or a fancy restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The answer to me is obvious.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: 9lives May 21, 2014 08:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you are going to serve a tomato salad, I agree it should be that farmer's market tomato - though I am very careful at which stands I go. I have been burned too many times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But in order to save up money for that farmers market tomato salad, I will happily eat cheaper and better at my local Bangali restaurant than at a posh pan-India small plates restaurant. Chepaer ingredients can make for a better meal, depending on the aesthetic of the restaurant.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PhilD RE: Steve May 21, 2014 06:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve - some recipes are definitely designed for cheap meats. They actually don't work with cheap cuts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A Coq Au Vin needs an old cock to give the true experience. In the past these were cheap as they were stringy, today you need to go to a specialist and they are no longer so cheap. Even, more commonly available cuts like Tripe are better if carefully selected and there are different price points for different qualities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    These days a lot of the cheaper cuts dishes were created to exploit are tricky to find thus expensive - breast of lamb isn't found in supermarkets but is in a quality butcher. And some of these cheap cuts are getting expensive as they get "rediscovered". So pork belly, beef cheeks, sweetbreads, liver, rabbit, pigs trotters are difficult to source and can be expensive. As a result restaurants may substitute for common more available mass market cuts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Steve RE: PhilD May 21, 2014 08:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Chinese restaurants I go to seem to have no problem getting their hands on intestines, kidney, rabbit, liver, pork belly, tendon, tripe, and other items. I don't think they are shopping in supermarkets.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Steve RE: PhilD May 21, 2014 05:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ah, I wish I had access to great Mexican food on a regular basis...... alas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You are correct, and I'd love to go to Mexico and try both low and high end places. I would love both, but I do not say I would love one more than the other. I would walk into each one anticipating a great meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In Washington, DC, Oyamel (a Jose Andres place) can serve, at times, great Mexican food. It's pricy, and worth it IF it doesn't taste like somebody spilled the salt shaker into the pot. Miserably incosistent. I never know if I am going to have a great meal ot an awful one. But the tacos are never the best.....

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  small h RE: Steve May 21, 2014 06:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <i had some tacos in Carpinteria, CA that made me weak at the knees. They cost about a dollar per. The more expensive 'foodie' tacos can't touch that kind of excellence>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is the exact same bias you accuse others of having. Why can't expensive tacos be just as excellent as cheap tacos?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And although I'm not 100% sure no one has raised this point already (although I have read every post in this thread, because I am insane), you frequently refer to "food critics." But that isn't what these people are. They are restaurant critics. They don't just critique the food; they critique the service and the atmosphere and the overall dining experience. And that's why your dollar taco joint won't ever get a four star review. Because the excellence of the food is only part of the package.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve RE: small h May 21, 2014 07:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Your'e right, the more expensive tacos could taste better, but I haven't had one yet that did. Though I had a great tamale with mint at Monte Alban in Santa Monica. I try them and I live in hope.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think there is shift in the Foodiesphere that we are getting to the point where decidedly unfancy restaurants can receive the highest accolades. It's just begining. But I still see some people being left out of the equation, and I think it's based on attitude. Not an exclusion or direct intolerance, but the assumption of certain paradigms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As far as the dollar taco joint getting a four star review, I am perfectly ok with abandoning the star system completely. Let people judge by the food and the individual aesthetic, and dollar signs and other emoticons can be an indication of the setting and service. Critics should forget the trappings and honestly guage if they can indeed embrace the aesthetic, then go to print. If they know they are unlikely to fall in love with a Senegalese dish, or adopt a Japanese aestheitc, then the newspaper should send a reviewer who can. Cover the places with an equally hopeful heart and mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Small h, I am pretty sure if you were to walk down 14th St in Washington, DC and see who is crowding into the 'foodie' restaurant and who is making the food in those open kitchens, and look at the other places on the street, you would see two different worlds and it would make you wonder what the heck is going on. I did this last Sunday for lunch - after the neighborhood churches let out- and the result was remarkable. That is why I am remarking on it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      linguafood RE: Steve May 21, 2014 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm rather curious how any of this tangent has *anything* to do with your original post.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve RE: linguafood May 21, 2014 08:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am curios as well, sometimes tangents work that way!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I will try to answer your very astute question, but I have to backtrack a bit:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Restaurant critics at major newspapers are white.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. They point, and their followers flock there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. I have noticed in my home city a remarkable disparity between the profile of these restaurants, the chefs, the customers, and their surrounding neighborhood or surrounding restaurants that don't make the top of the list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4. Many of these 'left out' restaurants have a different aesthetic. For example: soul food, African cuisines, family-style restuarants that serve large portions, cuisines that use a lot of oil in their cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5. I am openly asking the question: can the critics truly embrace an aesthetic that is very different or are they still following certain paradigms that make it unlikely for some people to get equal praise. If they have never fallen in love with a thiebou djenne or a bowl of pot likker, why are they one of the select few tastemakers who decide the direction of an entire industry?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6. In most cases, star systems are designed specifically to draw maximum attention to the rarifed, expensive experience that exemplifes only one food aestheitc in an entire world of wonderful experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Does that answer the question....

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bob W RE: Steve May 21, 2014 09:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Steve, in any city, how many restaurant critics of any note are there? And how many restaurants are in such cities?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For every soul food restaurant in the DC area, I can point you to a dozen asian holes-in-the-wall that may or may not be any good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          People who are interested in pot likker do not rely on Tom Sietsema in the Washington Post to point them in the right direction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Are you saying that the very white Tyler Cowen and Don Rockwell are not capable of pointing people to good soul food?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve RE: Bob W May 21, 2014 10:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is only one critic in Washington, DC that has the power to move the Foodiesphere dramatically.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That criic has good reasoning, sound judgement, and a broad palette. I follow his advice from time to time. But there are categories of restaurants ignored or downgraded, and some categories lifted up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The next sources of professional foodie info are the Post Food Section, The Weekend Section, the Washingtonian Magazine, and the City Paper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            All the other sources combined, including Chowhound, don't budge the needle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A top rating is coveted by all people trying to sell a meal. I know that all of the publications I mentioned devote coverage to many differnet kinds of cuisine, but how many get top billing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Little Serow gets top billing for Issan Thai food, but it's a European chef and a seven course tasting menu and designer cocktails. And the foodie crowd thinks it's the best Thai food in the area and that they are being adventurous eating spicy food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rasika is a good place for Indian food, but the amount of gushing it receives is all out of proportion and it still only reppresents a certain kind of cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I guess in the end that's why I gravitated naturally to Chowhound. Intense knowledge, willing to buck the system, and enough people to have critical mass in appreciating all those differnet aesthetics. Other Chowhounds have indeed taught me how to eat.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bob W RE: Steve May 21, 2014 11:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, that's the difference between "foodies" and "chowhounds." The latter (us) will find the good stuff and use multiple sources to do so.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                linguafood RE: Bob W May 21, 2014 12:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We are so much better than other people.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ChefJune RE: Steve May 21, 2014 02:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <Little Serow gets top billing for Issan Thai food, but it's a European chef and a seven course tasting menu and designer cocktails. >

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Are you saying that the chef must be Thai in order to cook authentic Thai food? If so, you're quite in error.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Steve RE: ChefJune May 21, 2014 02:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No, I am saying that the entire place gets foodie cred because they have taken a humble copious food, serve it into small plates, force people to pay for seven courses with no selection, offer them designer cocktails, and then it can be named as one of the Top Ten New Restaurants of the Year by Bon Apetiit because it fits the Euro paradigm of eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Food just as good -or better- being cooked a few miles away for much lower prices served in a more authentic manner where you have the run of the menu and the cook can whip up some specials and other dishes..... no, Bon Ap does not take notice. It is Issan Thai aka Lao food.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PhilD RE: Steve May 21, 2014 05:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steve - again I think you are falling into the cheap = authentic trap for ethnic foods and I think that is a derogatory attitude to these cuisines/chefs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Why can't Thai/Issan food be served in a nice place, why can't it have cocktails, why does the chef need to be Thai? There are plenty of upmarket cocktail bars in Bangkok full of Thais. Thai/Issan food is often severed in highly structured multicurse meals. It could actually be argued that this style of service is inherently Thai as the structure and resulting balance of the meal is so fundamental to the cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The hole in the wall with the multi choice menu which facilitates choice may actually be the antithesis of how Thais would serve the food as it allows the diner to be too ransom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You talk about going to restaurants with an open mind but you seem to always denigrate higher end restaurants using "European" as a pejorative term and seem to have a natural predisposition to expect great things from "authentic" holes in the wall... I think the quote goes...first take the plank out of your own eye.....!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Steve RE: PhilD May 21, 2014 08:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The place I am talking about is not better because it is cheaper.... that is just a bonus. I highly doubt Bon Apertit went around searching for a Lao restaurant to cover... and found the best one. They did not consider the alternative to the Euro paradigm. It was ignored. That's not the same thing as having a preference between the two after trying them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here is my review of Little Serow (the place featured in Bon Apetit):

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is the basement start-up underneath Komi that is dedicated to serving a $45 7-course Issan Thai menu in a hip, soothing environment. No reservations, and the menu changes weekly. Everyone in the restaurant is served the same menu, no options. Excellent service. Stool seating is a bit hard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I will try to keep this brief.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      First, I strongly encourage anyone thinking about this to go sample the Lao menu at Bangkok Golden in Seven Corners. I have eaten there many times, and there is little doubt in my mind you will eat much better and cheaper. The biggest difference you will find is the larp – the BG version outstanding for the pronounced fleshiness of the raw fish and the heady mixture of spices and heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      However, if this is too daunting a voyage for you, I don’t mean to quibble with deliciousness. Everything served here is at least good. The Sai Oua (Lao Sausage) is very delicious, the most successful dish. If I had not had its counterpart at Bangkok Golden, I might even think I couldn’t find better. But the Little Serow version is foamier and relies more on salt for it’s flavor, as where the BG version has a varied texture of supple meat, fragrant with dill and lemongrass.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The only other thing I’d like to add is not to go at this point expecting innovation or creative plating. This is homey fare, not much different than what you might find in dozens of holes-in-the wall, except that it specializes in a cuisine unrepresented downtown. At this point I put it firmly behind the Lao food I had when Sandy was cooking at Canton Gourmet Express, Issan dishes available from takeout at Rabeing Market, and even further from Bangkok Golden.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Steve
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PhilD RE: Steve May 22, 2014 04:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Steve - I think the only way to further this discussion is to have a good dinner together with a few beers/wines. It's a good debate. Pity we are too far apart not to be able to do it in person.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I did think it slightly ironic two places you like for Issan food are Bangkok Golden and Canton Gourmet - their names would suggest one is better at classic Siam food the other Cantonese food. Is this because the restaurants need broad based menus to attract the punters as Issan is too specialised?