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A roundup of food news, including a local chef grabbing national attention, and a tiki party.
If you’ve been buried in a bounty of late-summer stone fruits (I have!), there are some interesting tidbits – from a local chef grabbing national attention, to a tiki party – you probably don’t want to miss.
Our roundup dished below:
Jay Porter of the now-closed farm-to-table joint The Linkery has been garnering national attention after writing a series of blog posts on tipping. The Linkery instituted a no-tipping policy back in 2006. Instead, customers would find an 18 percent service charge as part of the bill. That policy, Porter argues, made the business more profitable.
“When we switched from tipping to a service charge, our food improved, probably because our cooks were being paid more and didn’t feel taken for granted. In turn, business improved, and within a couple of months, our server team was making more money than it had under the tipped system. The quality of our service also improved,” he writes.
From fair wages for Florida’s tomato pickers, or paid sick days for restaurant workers, the way employees are compensated is a hot industry topic — one Porter tapped into. While I applaud him for that, I can’t help but wonder if his argument would have been more powerful if the restaurant was still open and thriving.
Yesterday I covered a story for TakePart on a pilot study that suggests urban gardeners who create bee-friendly gardens from plants they’re purchasing at big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot may be doing more harm to local bees than good. It turns out that just over half the plants tested showed traces of neonicotinoids. That’s a class of insecticide that has been linked to bee deaths, (and some say it’s impacting bird and marine life as well) although Bayer Crop Science, a manufacturer of neonicotinoids, adamantly disagrees with the connection, or that there’s even been a decline in bee populations worldwide.
What is clear is that when it comes to what’s happening to bees, it’s complicated. So far, there’s no single answer to explain why beekeepers have been experiencing widepsread colony collapse disorder. One local beekeeper, Alan Mikolich, told me he lost 70 percent of his hives between the end of summer last year and February 2013. That amounted to nearly 500 hives, with 30,000-40,000 bees in a colony. Ouch. The problem for Mikolich isn’t neonicotinoids, however. It’s Varroa mites, and he’s busy trying to figure out the right treatment for his sweet bees.
Bee declines are a topic that has everyone from scientists to environmentalists to farmers very concerned. And as an agricultural county, it’s a topic that could hit San Diego close to home should things get worse.
Theresa Sinicrope Talley, the wetlands ecologist we told you about a few weeks ago, isn’t just trying to restore local native clams, she’s also trying to preserve local fishermen.
“As you know, there are currently two dockside fish markets proposed for San Diego Bay: near Tuna Harbor and Driscoll’s Wharf,” she said in an email. Talley and a colleague are hosting an event on Saturday, Sept. 7 to raise public awareness of local seafood. There will be tasting stations to sample local seafood, and informational booths so attendees can interact with scientists, nutritionists, fisherman and aquaculturists. But it’s also an opportunity for Talley to collect data.
“This event is part of our study to evaluate the demand for local fish and shellfish among locavores, people already on board with the slow-foods movement; and the city’s East African community, which is interested in reconnecting with it’s traditional healthy dietary habits,” she says. The event will run from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Ruocco Park, 585 Harbor Ln. Participants must register ahead of time. If you want to see a permanent fish market in San Diego, this is a good place to get heard.
And best for last. Yes, San Diego is a craft-beer town, but if you’ve ever sipped at places like Craft and Commerce, Polite Provisions or Cusp, then you know there’s a skillful and thriving cocktail scene here too. This weekend’s Tiki Oasis at the Crowne Plaza is especially for the rum lovers out there, but don’t be fooled. It’s not just music and delicious Zombies. There are plenty of classes too. Taming of American Moonshine taught by local spirits expert Matthew Rowley, and History of the American Cocktail caught my attention, but maybe “How to Throw a Mid-Century Tiki Patio Party” is more for you. Online sales have ended, but for most classes, tickets will be available at the door. Mahalo.