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The Way We Work Now

Our restaurant has been open at full capacity for weeks — even indoors

The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.

Justin is a twentysomething server in a conservative pocket of Palm Beach, Florida. He spoke to Mai Tran about returning to work in a state where Covid-19 cases have topped 870,000.

I started working at a family-owned bar and restaurant in Palm Beach County, Florida, in the beginning of March. When I got there it was already in the “we don’t really know what’s going to happen” stage. In mid-April, we got the order to go into lockdown, and…

Before Guy Fieri started saving restaurants hit by the pandemic, he saved a Syrian restaurant on the brink of collapse

Guy Fieri holding and pointing to a small plaque that says “Flavortown”.
Guy Fieri holding and pointing to a small plaque that says “Flavortown”.

Riyad Alkasem was desperate.

It was 2010, and his restaurant was on the brink of closure, and with it, his dream. Riyad had arrived in America 20 years earlier, pulled from his home in Raqqa, Syria, by the promise of American democracy. Here, he’d built a family and a home, and in 2007, he’d opened a restaurant in Hendersonville, Tennessee, cooking for Southern palates the food his Syrian grandmother used to make. He called it Café Rakka, and he viewed it as a kind of bet. On himself, sure, but also on the limits of human openness and curiosity. His…

A modest proposal for an infinity ban on hot plates, mass-market buffets, and other gross Petri dishes of communal eating

For a fleeting moment, the manager of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., held onto hope that people would still be excited to chow down at an overpriced hotel Easter buffet: “Get ready for a HUGE celebration in a few weeks,” Mickael Damelincourt tweeted in earnest on March 24, making a reference to a $130-a-head brunch buffet the hotel hosts every Easter Sunday. His message was roundly mocked and then deleted. …

Richie Nakano was a ramen star. But that wasn’t enough for Silicon Valley.

Richie Nakano’s Hapa Ramen was launched in 2010 on folding tables at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. It didn’t take long for his local pop-up to grow into a Bay Area staple. As people lined up for a taste of his gorgeous bowls of fragrant homemade broth — full of noodles, pickles, kimchi, sous vide eggs, pork leg confit — Nakano quickly earned the reputation as one of the area’s most innovative (and hardest-working) chefs. His fame grew not only through Hapa Ramen, but also thanks to Line Cook, his crackling, salacious blog about restaurant life, sustainability, craft…

Great Escape

I live out all the lives I’ll never live through the meals I’ll probably never eat

It has been 10 minutes, and still, I can’t decide between the chicken or the shrimp laksa. I’m craving seafood, but suspect the shrimp come with their head and shells on, and I’m not sure I can deal with the added labor. There are extras to consider, too — toppings of charred aubergine, crispy fried tofu or half a soft boiled egg. I want all three, but not at once. And do I have the rice noodles or the egg, and is it weird to ask for both?

At this point, the waiter should be circling impatiently, eager to get…

The same factors that created 12 years of glory for the culinary scene have also led to its downfall

In his new book Burn the Ice, Kevin Alexander surveys the last 12 years of culinary revolution across America, from the explosion and appropriation of local cuisines like Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville to the iconoclastic influence of Portland’s Le Pigeon. What follows is an adapted introduction from Alexander’s testament to the industry’s latest boom–and bust.

The United States of America is no stranger to revolution. For the better part of 400 years, it’s stubbornly refused to stand still. Perhaps more than any other nation in history, it’s constantly in a state of reinvention, and nowhere is this truer than…


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