Allison has long contended that the worldwide phenomenon of Dîner en Blanc -- a paid ticket event that requires you to bring your own food, tables, chairs, and decor while dressed entirely in white -- is incredibly dumb. On this episode the organizers of this year's Baltimore DEB, Kimberly Shorter and Candice Owens, join the podgang to convince her otherwise. They may have sold out of 2,500 tickets almost immediately, but they don't understand Allison's hatred of white pants! Those are dumb, too!
Even though you're too late to get tickets, check out the official website for Dîner en Blanc in Baltimore to get on their mailing list for next year. You'll have to act quickly once 2020 goes on sale, because this bitch is a whole thing. Follow along with the fun on Instagram with the hashtag #DEBBaltimore2019, and be sure to follow @dinerenblancBaltimore for more about the small businesses helping to turn that mother out!
As you may have noticed this is not a podcast episode, but this page functions as a blog and I have very important things to say!
A few days ago I was contacted by a publishing company called Reedy Press, who asked me to write a book about nearly 100 restaurants in Washington DC for free. It would be part of their Unique Eats and Eateries series, which has been published for cities all over America. When I asked if there was at the very least a budget to eat at all these restaurants, I was told that I should ask them for free meals as a thank you for all the exposure they'd be getting from this book. I made this offer public on Twitter, which was widely shared by members of the creative community.
You should click through and read the entire, hastily written thread. It's full of rage and has lots of awesome details about how the publishing industry works. And please share all that info with current and aspiring writers you know: all of this is common knowledge among published authors, but for the most part we've all been too scared to say anything for years. We've now hit rock bottom in this industry, and it's time to speak out.
In the event anyone thought my tweets were hyperbole or a complete fabrication, I also published the specifics of what they asked me to provide, as well as their author guidelines. Neither the email nor these documents had any sort of written confidentiality clause, so it was cool to share! They also have the contact information for everyone in the company, in case you want to inquire about working for them for zero dollars yourself.
The tweets also share lots of the fun parts of our emails, like how they said publishing costs were so high they couldn't afford to pay me, and how I should beg restaurants for free meals so I could get Reedy the content they needed to make money off these books.
I spent a day thinking about how I would respond to their offer. I have sent this email, and decided to share it all with you as well. Feel free to use it any time someone asks you to work for free and frames it as if they're doing you a favor.
This line in your last email stuck out: “Due to production costs of the book, we are not able to afford any advance. I totally understand if this is a concern on your end.” You’re right, I am concerned. I’ve written three books before and am a very experienced writer, and I know how much production costs are — currently you can get paperbacks printed for about .90 per book. Factoring the salaries of the small staff list you gave me, and taking into account the average overhead of such a business, I’m incredibly concerned for your company. If you guys are barely scraping by on production costs, especially when you’re retailing your books for $20 and are seeking authors to write for “exposure”, you’re in a lot of trouble.
Then I had an absolutely brilliant idea: you guys are struggling so hard you need to ask for free goods and services, yet you’re kindly offering all these authors and restaurants “exposure” through your books. You also need to beg me for marketing contact lists, and to do free work as a sales rep and PR agent. You guys must really be in trouble. As you noticed from my website — the one you found very impressive — I am very well connected in this industry. So I figured for once someone could be as kind as you all are and help you with exposure!
Yesterday I posted the entirety of the deal you offered me on Twitter, as well as the documents you sent in full — since they weren’t marked confidential, I thought it would be cool to share to help you acquire more talent. I also shared it in multiple professional groups I belong to, which include editors of almost every major food publication in America, as well as thousands of respected food writers all over the world. I’ve also made sure the terms of your contract have been shared with professional restaurant associations in Washington DC, Baltimore, and New York City so people can be prepared to offer your writers free meals and photography in exchange for all the exposure you’re giving them. Want them to be on their A-game!
As I write this, the thread I wrote about Reedy Press has been retweeted over 350 times by authors, editors, agents, and even big name celebrity chefs. I’ve even been contact by two journalists about your contract, who are going to do stories about Reedy Press! SUCCESS! You’ve got so much exposure now, which I’m sure is going to be fantastic for your company.
Unfortunately I will not be able to write your book for free, because I have bills to pay and children to feed. I don’t have the time to do you any more favors than the one I’ve already done for you. Hopefully soon you’ll be in a position to pay your writers and photographers. Good luck! "
Have you every participated in or been a casual observer of potato salad Twitter? It is a very real thing, and it is intense. On this episode, we fulfill the request of Brian Koppelman, creator of Showtime's Billions and active potato salad theorist. The podgang each bring their personal recipe to the table, we eat, we discuss, we yell. Also discussed: why Allison and Matt pronounce capicola as "gabagool" and why The Sopranos can go fuck themselves.
Visit our special guest John Houser at his podcast page: Rouxde Cooking School (and subscribe/listen, goddamnit!). Follow him on Twitter @Rouxde, too! And most definitely try his signature potato salad at home. Why not try making all of our potato salads and eating along while you listen?. They were entirely excellent, and this entire episode was top to bottom was a fantastic idea.
Matt Robicelli's Italian Potato Salad
4 large russet potatoes
3 artichoke hearts
6 sun-dried tomatoes
6 slices pepperoni
6 slices hot capicola
6 slices Genoa salami
6 slices provolone cheese
1 small red onion sliced
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup mayo
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup of hots
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Peel potatoes, cut into 1" chunks, and add to the pot. Reduce heat to a low boil and cook until potatoes are just tender. Drain, then immediately toss in red wine vinegar. Allow to cool completely.
Finely chop pepperoni, Genoa salami, hot capicola, provolone cheese, artichoke hearts, pepperocini, and sundried tomatoes. Mix the mayo with hots and olive oil.
Toss the meat mixture, then add dressing and fold gently to combine.
John Houser's Classic Potato Salad
•1 cup mayo
•1 cup sour cream
•1/4 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
•6 harboiled eggs- yellows separated from whites and whites courtly chopped
•zest of one lemon
•juice of 1/2 lemon
•1/2 tsp msg
•1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
•2 tsp Morton’s kosher salt
•1 packages fresh dill (approx .75 ounces) stems and all finely chopped
•3 stalks of celery and all of the levels from the stalk- small dice (approx 1/4”) leaves finely chopped
•1 large onion-small dice (approx 1/4”)
•4 pounds cooked red potatoes- large dice (approx 3/4”)
Allison's German Potato Salad
1/2 pound small gold potatoes
8 slices thick cut bacon
1 large onion, roughly chopped into large pieces
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons German mustard
1/4-1/2 cup grapeseed oil
Salt & pepper
Use kitchen scissors to snip bacon into 1" pieces. Place in a medium saucepan and add water to just barely cover. Bring to a hard boil, stirring occasionally, until all the water has evaporated. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp. Strain the bacon grease into a spouted measuring cup, and place the bacon bits in a small bowl.
Put onion and butter into a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cover. Poach onions in the melted butter for 10 minutes. Strain the butter into the measuring cup with the bacon fat, then mix the onions with the bacon.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard and apple cider vinegar. Slowly stream in the reserved fats, whisking vigorously the entire time. Slowly stream in some grapeseed oil, again whisking hard, until the dressing looks like a loose mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cut potatoes in half, the slice into 1/2" half moons. Boil potatoes until just tender, then drain. Immediately toss in the dressing, then fold in bacon and onions. Serve warm or room temperature.
Make sure you check out this week's episode of our sister podcast The City That Breeds, which is a "part 2" of sort that segues from potato salads to watching your parents die, which is totally a logical progression.
A few weeks ago we got a DM from Keith Chow (co-founder of Nerds of Color & host of the Southern Fried Asians podcast) saying he had opinions on Americanized Chinese Food, and absolutely had to be on the show to share them with all you good people out there. And share them he did! We also talk about the magical event that was Wicomicon, abortion, making sci-fi inclusive, gerrymandering, and argue about the best items at an Asian buffet.
Visit Keith at NerdsOfColor.org
Follow him on Twitter @the_real_chow.