It used to be that year’s end was the time for all the “Best…” or “Top…” lists. Now that’s stretched to most of the year. Most famously for the food world are the James Beard Award announcements, which, now that James Beard Foundation releases the names of the semifinalists, that ceremony is essentially stretched out to four months, culminating with the awards event in May. This time of year there’s also the public voting for Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef, which leads into the more vaunted list (congratulations to Jamie Malone at Sea Change) the writers’ choose. Locally, we’ve got our own pile of Bests and Tops—including the two-year-old Charlie Awards event and the mighty Foodservice News’ annual Top Chefs Book each December.
With each of those awards or lists, it’s the job of the publisher, foundation, association or business to determine who belongs. And, generally, to have any credibility, those organizations reach out to experts beyond their walls, gauge public interest and amass possibilities throughout the year with boots on the ground. Still, it’s a subjective list, and they often draw criticism for being such. Which is beside the point.
The minimum wage debate got a big boost with President Barack Obama’s recent State of the Union address, where he proposed Congress work to raise the base wage for U.S. workers to $9 per hour, up from $7.25. Those paying attention to local politics know that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton voiced his support for minimum wage increases proposed by the state legislature up to $9.50.
Raising the rate to this level would return the minimum wage to its purchasing value from nearly 40 years ago: According to a 2012 Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry study, “In 2011 dollars, the Minnesota minimum fell from $8.36 in 1974 to $6.15 in 2010, while the U.S. minimum fell from $9.13 to $7.25.” In that time, worker productivity has nearly doubled.
Before I get into the topic of the headline, allow me to wander off track in the spirit of Larry King’s long defunct USA Today column: Since I’ve been at the helm of Foodservice News (2006 or thereabouts), I’ve noticed many trends, but the one most energizing has to be the increased number of women stepping into professional kitchens and excelling. It’s changed the industry so much for the better, injecting a needed wave of creativity and—let’s face it—professionalism to kitchen careers.
More of that is coming. The evidence can be seen each year at the Minneapolis ACF Awards Banquet. One of the chapter’s great acts is to raise scholarship funds for hospitality and culinary students, and each year, more women are getting them. At last month’s banquet, more than half of the 19 scholarship winners were women, including all four of the Toby Landgraf Foundation winners. Take a quick look at a few highlights from the banquet on page 26, and more details and photos on the FSN website.
If one looks to any publication covering any topic right now, it is the season for reflection and pontification—particularly from the scribes that lead it. I’d be doing that exact thing, except Mecca Bos hit the long ball already with her comprehensive summation of the Twin Cities dining scene—not just reflecting on 2012, but the regions’ ascension during the last few years into prominence on the national radar. Simply put, it’s a great read, and allows me to go off on a tangent—and, as my Holiday gift to you, keep my column short(er).
One of the rewarding offshoots of being a journalist is getting that tangential information that might not turn into a story, but will nevertheless provide a valuable layer of knowledge that will forever lurk in your skull. I’ve had many of those moments, and a couple more were added this past month as I gathered information to write my stories.
You’ll read in this issue about the recently revamped Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. I spoke with Jeff Johnson, the hotel’s food and beverage director, and Aaron Hagerdorn, the executive chef. Johnson has worked for Hyatt for 11 years, and been through a few renovations at other properties. He’s been in Minneapolis for two years.
© Copyright 2006 - 2013 Food Service News. All rights reserved.
Proudly powered by WordPress.