Happy Scribe
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Here's a little fun fact that you might not know about this show, we do a lot of reporting. Another fun fact, our reporting takes us to lots of interesting, glamorous places like Columbus, Ohio, and Rochester, New York and Biloxi, Mississippi. And when we arrive, the first thing my producer, Whitney and I do is figure out where to eat what and I are what I would call special needs. ITRs Whitney is a vegan, so he's a real pill to dine with.

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Just kidding. He's not. And I am both a vegetarian and a person with substantial food, finicky ness. So we can't just swing by five guys and call it a day.

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As soon as we we land we are like OK, where are the vegetarian friendly. Right. Options for us.

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That's what he does in January 20 20, also known as the Before Times, when he and I flew to Los Angeles to report a story on Teen Dream Clothing Empire Forever 21. By the way, that was an excellent episode and you should totally check it out. When we arrived at our Best Western Plus in LA's Koreatown neighborhood, we fired up the old Yelp machine and began plotting our meals.

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I think the night before we just looked around and Squirrel was one of the ones that popped up. And I think it had good reviews on Yelp.

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If you didn't catch the restaurant name, it's Squirrelled Eskew I RL, which is both an economical and an impossibly cool way to spell it. And when he was right about those reviews, just let me share a particularly breathless one with you. It comes from elite Yelpers Bob of Asheville, North Carolina, The Tangie friendship fetta, the dark, richly flavoured pesto, the perfectly poached egg. All of these flavors and textures in various combinations made each forkful a wild and dreamy ride into the land of foodie nirvana.

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Bobby was really feeling himself in this review. He continues writing about the restaurants famed ricotta toast. This ricotta was elevated to the point that it became a cloud in its own right, creamy also like lushness, with a mild but distinctive flavor that brought my palate to its knees. Angels in the real heaven ain't playing no harps. They're eating this toast.

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What I'm trying to tell you is that people loved this restaurant, which was news to me. I didn't know anything about it. Did you? I did not. Never heard of it before.

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So on our last day in L.A., we piled into our rental car and drove to squirrel. It's in a neighborhood called Virgile Village that has been home to tons of immigrant groups over the years, though these days it has a bit of a different complexion. But at the time, Whitney and I knew nothing about squirrel or the pale application of the neighborhood. We just knew we could find a decent breakfast there.

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So, OK, so here's here's what I've been able to determine here. Tell me on January 15th. Twenty twenty. Yeah. At ten, 16 a.m. Pacific Time. Yeah, we were in squirrel and that's where I'd.

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And Clyde W. took our order, it's true, it says so right there on the receipt, but I am sorry to this man, Clyde W. for I do not remember him, only his mustache. Squirrel is a counter service restaurant with whitewashed walls and an aesthetic with a capitol, a Enan Corona Times. It has a line out the door when you got a fancy tater tots sort of business with marinated vegetables and I got an omelet cooked in a skillet because I am truly basic and our meals were totally fine, I feel like it was exactly what I would expect from a place.

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It was like an upscale vegan breakfast. It gave the impression of using like slightly better or at least more worthy ingredients. Not exactly a five star review from young Whitney. By this part of the story, you might be like, girl, get to the point, who cares where you all eat breakfast? But here's the thing. Whitney and I didn't know it then, but we were eating at a restaurant that six months later would be embroiled in a very sticky mess thanks to its Instagram famous jam and some fungi found there in.

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I'm Lauren Ober and from American Public Media. This is the season finale of Spectacular Failures, the show that things failure always needs a little more seasoning.

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So virtual village, this neighborhood we drove to for breakfast that one morning, it's a splinter of a community wedged between East Hollywood and Silverlake. It's technically a neighborhood within a neighborhood making up East Hollywood's easternmost edge. And like so many of the country's urban neighborhoods, Virtual Village has seen waves of immigration. When one group leaves and another arrives, what is left is a crazy quilt of cultural touchstones. A Ukrainian Orthodox church down the street from a kitschy Caribbean restaurant, which is down the street from a Latino grocery that used to be a Japanese market.

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The Filipino barbershop becomes the Guatemalan barbershop. It's a whole color wheel of humanity. Samantha Halloo. Hernandez has lived in Virgile Village since 2014. Back when she moved to the neighborhood, Verdoux village was solidly Central American. You could tell from the businesses that populated the neighborhood's main artery, Virgile Avenue, a lot of the businesses there cater to the Central American population.

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So there's Pentecostal churches, there's a Salvadoran restaurant, there are taco vendors, pupusa, vendors, a vitamin store that caters to the Latino population.

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Halloo Hernandez is a journalist who has been documenting changes in her neighborhood through her Instagram account this side of Hoover. And by changes, we mean the word gentrification.

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So in the last, I would say, 10 years, there's been a lot of change and it's intensified recently. So a lot of mom and pop immigrant businesses closing down and being replaced by things like wine bars and bagel shops and businesses that cater to more affluent, oftentimes a wider demographic.

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Halloo, Hernandez attributes this change in part to hipster creep Virgile Village Blancs, the ultra cool and long ago gentrified neighborhood of Silverlake. And over the years, these Silver Lake aesthetic bled into virtual village. Halloo, Hernandez's multicultural neck of the woods began to look more and more like a SilverLink annex.

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And here's the Silverlake stereotype. It's the sort of place where everyone looks like they make sustainable floral installations or art director Wes Anderson films, or just do yoga lattes and drink ethical milk smoothies all day. And all of them are cooler than you. Hayley Hernandez says folks in the neighborhood noticed a sort of flip happen in Virtual Village around 2012.

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A lot of people see squirrelled, which officially opened up as like a restaurant in 2012. Like that's kind of like when everything really shifted.

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In 2011, a Long Beach native named Jessica Koslo took out a lease on 720 North Virgile Avenue. She found the space on Craigslist and figured it would be perfect for her new enterprise, artisanal jams that she'd sell at local farmers markets. She told a reporter for the food website Eater, quote, My cheat is this shitty corner on Virgile and Marathon. The cheat is like I pay two dollars per square foot and quote, which for an 800 square foot space meant that her rent was less than Peanut's.

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Now, I'm sure that the Chinese carry out the Latino party supply store and the Pentecostal Studios' Biblical course, with whom Koslo shared the block wouldn't call their stretch of road Chitti. But there you go. She called her spot squirrel.

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Squirrel is squirreling things away is an all time preserving term and it's a girl who squirrelling.

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That's Koslo on the positively Gotham Girl podcast.

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Quickly after that, she started a pop up with GMHBA Coffee, which is a coffee shop here in L.A. and started serving toast, toast, flip and toast.

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Yeah, I mean, I think initially it was using the toast in order to showcase the jam that she was making.

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So for Koslo Jam was the jumping off point, which she explained in this video from Westwood Westwood.

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You know, when I started Squirrel, I was hiding behind the jam and like I was letting that jam speak for me. When I opened Squirrel as a restaurant, I realized that my the door was open to people actually seeing me and experiencing not only the food, but also who I was.

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Squirrel Jam Giambra, people in the door, like the late celebrated food writer Jonathan Gold, who paid Causeless Cafe a visit in December 2012 interview stopped just short of exultation, he wrote, If you enjoy chaos as much as you do toast smeared with chocolate ganache and ollman, hazelnut butter, toast with poached egg, lemon zest and cream toast, served with quince paste and transparent slices of prosciutto or toast crowned with fried egg and greens.

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Squirrel may well be your favorite place in the city and quote, Given Gold's preeminent position in Ellas food writing seen his endorsement was as good as a Michelin star. The dude loved squirrel. So did just. About every other food critic who sampled causeless cuisine, The New York Times dubbed it downright revolutionary.

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L.A. Weekly food writer Beshir Rodel wrote, Squirrel has everything I want on one plate over and over again. L.A. magazine's Randy Clemons gushed, I've developed a huge food crush on Koslo, so it got a lot of reviews very early on and kind of was kind of like a viral sensation.

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And in the age of social media, once you have hype, you have crowds.

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Skrull kind of became infamous for this long line that wraps around the block as people wait to order their breakfast or lunch.

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If you don't believe or just check Google Street View, you can see the line there. Now, there is very little I will wait in line for, but squirrel have the goods to back up the hype, especially their jams. In 2014, serious eats named squirrels. Bespoke fruit spreads to its list of best jams and preserves in the USA, noting the vibrant boysenberry jam was our all time favorite, perhaps our favorite berry jam ever until we tasted the rare Youngberry version, which tastes like a dream where blackberries and blueberries merge into one incredible fruit.

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Honestly, I don't know from Jim. I just never thought that much about it, which is why I called up my new favorite gemologist. Actually, she's a master preserver, but gemologist just sounds more fun.

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My name is Joyce Goldstein. I'm a retired chef. I have written 28 cookbooks and my most recent book is Jam Session A Fruit Preserving Handbook. And I've been putting up Preserve's for oh God, 50 years.

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Really? I'm a grandma, honey. I'm 85.

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I figure Joyce, with her infinite jam wisdom, could walk us through some of the nuances of this food that many of us likely take for granted. First, it's taxonomy time.

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Jamm is when you chop up the fruit, you don't keep individual whole berries.

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Everything is chopped up, cooked with sugar and lemon juice. How about preserve's? I call from like a preserve when I keep the fruit whole.

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Oh friends. We're just getting going concer. That's when things like nuts or raisins have been added to it. Chutney which have vinegar and spices and fruit in big chunks, marmalade with citrus fruit peel, andrews', mustard from Italy. And it's a fruit preserve that has already set up a mustard oil added to it. So it's sweet, but it got this kick at the end. Jelly jelly is the trickiest of all is when the fruit and sugar are cooked down and then drained through something called a jelly bag, although you could rig one up with cheesecloth and a calendar and the liquid drips down and then you cook that up and it gels.

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Oh, we did a great job, everyone. I asked Joyce, what's the mark of a really great jam?

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Well, texture and flavor for me. I like jams that have a little acidity that aren't too sweet, that's too cloying and I hate it. And the quality of the fruit that you buy is also crucial.

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On this last point, Joyce is unwaivering. The fruit should have some firmness and absolutely not be overripe. It needs to be inviting, even seductive. It can't be some dumpy bottom of the barrel situation. Joyce lives in California and basically puts up jams and preserves all year long. She's never tried squirrels jams before, but why would she have? She hasn't needed to buy jam in thirty five years.

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I did an inventory a couple of months ago and I have. Oh my God, I don't know how much I must have over. 400 or 500 jobs right now. So, yeah, you could say GM is her GM, I'm sorry, I should be for that.

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Jewesses Jamz go far beyond your average jar of Smucker's. She makes mango lime jam and raspberry rose jam and carrot ginger jam there, like the vintage Italian sports cars of jam, handmade with care, lots of sex appeal and packed with a lot of soda is squirrel jam like Pearl Jam, but with less vocal growl. Anyway, Jessica Costello's restaurant might stand out for its lines around the block and its unique take on the now ubiquitous grain bowls. But what it's really known for is its jam.

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So naturally I had to try it. Squirrel's website said there was a place near me that carried its jam. It was a fancy wine and beer shop with a very burly, bearded guy behind the counter. Have you ever heard this before? What do you think about it? Some of the best you ever had, anything like this. Are you really with that endorsement?

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I bought three jars of squirrel jam at twelve ninety nine, a pop BlackBerry, Meyer Lemon, Olalla Laliberté and something called June and Rich Lady Peach Jam. Forty one dollars and 31 cents later, I was ready to get my jam on, but toasting some bread, whacking some jam on it and eating by myself didn't sound like much fun. So I asked my producer David to swing by and help me recreate squirrels. Famed ricotta toast. Oh, sorry, you don't know about squirrels.

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Famed ricotta toast. Well, here's the Food Network's Claire Thomas raving about it.

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Absolutely beautiful. You want to Instagram it immediately? You have this giant thick slice of brioche, beautiful whipped ricotta on top, and then not one, but three jams in a row. Now, the question is, how do you attack this? It's basically the size of a porterhouse. So I don't think I should, like, lift it up and eat it unless you want to see me with a big ricotta mustache, which I most certainly do.

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Anyway, I bought the last loaf of brioche bread at my local bakery and I grabbed a tub of ricotta from the grocery store. Then David came over and we were ready to make toast.

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You wash my hands first because since this is partially about food safety, yes, it's smart.

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I cut the brioche into huge slabs just like they serve it squirrelled. It is like almost too big for my toaster oven. It's pretty much they're enormous.

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OK, once the bread finished toasting, we cracked open our ricotta and jams. So what do we have here? Tell me what what kind we got here.

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OK, first thing we have is an old Laliberte jam. OK, which I looked up at is a cross of different kinds of blackberries with some raspberry ancestors in their ancestors.

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So some of those blackberries were descended from raspberries as well.

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The two squirrel berry jams looked fresh and had a perfuming sort of bouquet. The peach jam looked like baby food and smelled like a two. Sorry, I smeared about a quarter of a pound of ricotta on our respective brioche bricks. Then I made a little well in the cheese for the streaks of jam to settle into. I artfully spooned out a bit of each flavor onto David's bread, but I kept mine purely berry because the peach business was giving me Gerber flashbacks.

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Then we were ready to tuck in.

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Oh, here we go. It's enormous. It has put on your mouth. Mm hmm. That is good, though, is it the truth goes problem, what will the charm.

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Yeah, like, I did not expect that, but for real, David was really vibing with that toast.

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I think I think, look, the consistency of the of the cheese, the ricotta with the bread is really good. And then, like, the jam, just like kind of glosses elegantly right around on the top there. It's just like it merges pretty elegantly, emerges well together I'd say into the bite is pretty nice. OK.

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It's like it's a cohesive bite. Have you been watching food TV? Because that's what it sounds like. I have not. But I know I know the buzz words on High Food Network where your next breakout stars.

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I can see why people are so into this toast. It's an elevated version of a breakfast staple that feels novel and tastes fresh. This ain't some Smucker's Wonder Bread operation, but there's one more thing about our little culinary copy job.

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Here's a great news. What's weird is none of these jams had Modano. That's true. I don't see a speck of mold.

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Now, why would that even be on my mind? Why would I think that there was a possibility that this jam could be moldy?

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Well, we are a show about failure, so something's bound to be bad. In July, amid a pandemic that shut down restaurants around the country, Squirrel got caught up in a food flap that very nearly could have ended them. A photo surfaced of moldy jam. The Internet did with the Internet does best and the whole thing spiraled out of control.

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When we come back, how that very unappetizing photo of mold made its way around the Internet. Plus, what even is mold and what do you do when your reputation has been put through a fruit grinder?

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Yeah, that's a thick. By day, Joe Rosenthal is a mathematician in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work involves improving cancer diagnostics through deep learning. But in his spare time, Rosenthal writes about food or more accurately, he's a self-described food antagonist who creates elaborate Instagram stories about food.

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You know, I started out just posting pictures of my food on Instagram. You know, I was learning to make pizza and, you know, post pictures as I was doing it. And, you know, I made a lot of friends in the pizza world. And so I would kind of just become familiar with what was going on there.

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Rosenthal had a blog, Richard Eagle Spoon Dotcom, and he started writing about folks in the pizza industry who were, in his words, problematic figures.

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You know, when I was kind of saying, like, hey, you know, like this is a problem, you know, we need to stop promoting these people. You know, in the pizza world, I was kind of viewed as the antagonist. You know, I was disrupting the status quo and the industry wanted to maintain that.

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Rosenthal continued his food antagonism with extensive, almost obsessive Instagram stories, mostly about complaints of racial and economic inequalities at food media giant Bon Appetit. And then he read a tweet from food writer Alicia Kennedy.

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It was on Saturday, July 11th, and the morning that I saw it and she tweeted, you know, something interesting or, you know, something going on it squirrel truth. And it's this Instagram account that was kind of highlighting issues that employees were having.

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Squirrel neither Rosenthal nor Kennedy can remember exactly how the tweet read. And Kennedy later deleted it, but that something interesting proved too enticing to Rosenthal.

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There wasn't like a smoking gun, but it seemed like, OK, something you know, something's going on here and I don't know why, but I kind of just started digging into it.

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Now would be a good place to note that Rosenthal has never eaten at Squirrel. He's in St. Paul squirrels in L.A. He didn't know the owner, Jessica Koslo, or any of her employees. And despite his blog and Instagram account, he isn't a food journalist. But Rosenthal is a guy with some time on his hands. He beat the Bushes until a former employee finally told him what the issue was. Mold in the house, jam that same jam that was used to make a bazillion portions of that famed ricotta toast.

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OK, moult, you know, food molds. But when I hear, like, the house jam is moldy, I wanted to know, like, is this a regular thing and who knew about it and what was going on at the moment?

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And then came the photo. It landed in Rosenthal's DM's from the account of a former squirrel employee. It's on the web now, but I'll describe it for you in case you're too grossed out. Look, imagine a clear three gallon commercial kitchen bucket with four long spatulas rising like Excalibur from a mass of red jam and crumpled on the top of the jam are rough ribbons of what looks to be ashy, blue, green mold. To be clear, the mold photo was taken in late 2019 and is not of a bucket of house jam, but rather the discarded mold scraped from other containers but scraping mold off.

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Dr. Linda Harris says that's a big no no. Iris is a food safety microbiologist at UC Davis and she knows all about the stuff in our food that maybe shouldn't be there. Do you have a favorite mold?

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Is that a crazy question, are you like you're nuts? Is there a mole, like, super cool, like, oh, what a cool dude that. So I have a favorite bacteria, but but I don't really have a favorite mold. I have to be honest, just for the record, Harris's favorite bacteria is salmonella. Oh, my God. Me too. Twins. IRA says the problem with food mold is that it's microscopic.

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You know, by the time you see the mold, there's a lot of mold. And generally you can't just scrape off the mold and go on about your day into those of you yelling blue cheese at me while you listen. Yeah, I know some mold is good, but the problem with mold on things like artisanal jams is when you see something on the surface, there might also be what we call mycelia.

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Growing below the surface is as well.

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It is not as clearly visible. Is it like an iceberg?

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Oh, yeah, exactly. A little bit like an iceberg.

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So basically you can get rid of the mold on top, but there could be lots of little mold buddy's way down in there. And apart from just being gross to look at food, mold can be dangerous, particularly for people who have allergies to mycotoxins, which some molds produce. And I'm sorry, but when your grandma said just cut it off about moldy bits, she was wrong. You really just need to chuck anything that has mold and shouldn't. Our resin gemologist Joyce Goldstein is also a multi James Beard award winning chef and restaurateur.

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And she says that serving Jamm in that kind of shape is also just bad business.

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Your greatest fear is to have someone get sick in your restaurant. I mean, my God, it's a lawsuit. It's horrible. And I would never, ever serve anything that had mold on top, even if you spooned the mold of. It should be dumped. I want to be really clear about this. There is no record of any complaints to the county health department in L.A. about anything moldy at Squirrel. And in a statement provided to us, Jessica Koslo says, In eight years of squirrelled the restaurant, I'm not aware of a single complaint related to a customer getting sick from anything mold related.

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She goes on to note that no employees ever complained about work environment related health issues either. Still, some employees had concerns about what they saw over the years, like what was depicted in that photo. Bullo Orozco's started working at Squirrel in 2016. Before that, he had worked at restaurants in New York and Mexico. Orozco like the Vibert squirrel, and he was proud of the food he was making.

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But but then there was like a few things like, I don't know, I sort of molded them and I was like, this is trash. I was put in the trash and I was told, no, just take it off, you know, and it's fine. But I mean, is that OK? Who told you?

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Can I can I interrupt? Who told you to to do that? Like, no, it's fine. Don't worry about it. Yes.

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DiCicco Orozco says he and other employees knew about the mold situation, but the general public was unaware. All that changed once Rosenthal posted the photo on an Instagram story called The Fungal. Then the squirrel haters were off to the races. Thus began hashtag Millgate, a brief but blistering social media flare up. Tim tweeted, Is it bad that I'm totally giddy at watching the squirrel empire crumble? Morissa F is it bad that I'm kind of living for the squirrel mold scandal?

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Bonny Loo squirrel melodrama. I cannot follow by a shocked ghost emoji.

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I mean, schadenfreude is very powerful. That's Alecia Kennedy, the food writer whose initial tweet said Rosenthal's investigation in motion.

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You know, we love to tear people down. We love to see successful people fall, which is a you know, just a fascinating human tendency.

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Now, I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think things might have been different if Koslo was a dude.

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And I do think, of course, there was a lot of misogyny in the response to her being taken down because at the same time, squirrel was very unapologetically in its aesthetic and in its food feminine.

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I mean, her signature item was handcrafted jam, not like a T bone steak. And while moldy jam is bad, it's still pretty low on the list of bad chef behavior.

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It might not have been as big a story if she were a male chef because we've come to kind of expect it.

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But women in the food industry have to thread the finest of needles. You can't be a jerk. Your food has to be perfect and you have to manage to keep everyone happy with a lot less access to capital and other kinds of support. The world does not cut female bosses one bit of slack, the Internet even less so. Naturally, squirrel's popularity pre Molde made them a huge target. Once that photo came out, it seemed like almost every online food writer took a swipe at Koslo in her restaurant.

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In big publications like GQ, The Washington Post and New York Magazine also wrote about the brouhaha. Even late night hosts D.S. and Métro got in the mix.

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Well, do you guys want some L-A? Gosnells, Lagos?

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Give me some. They got a a moldy book. The Squirtle Jam is drinking. The Internet loses mine. Yeah.

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Listen, I shout once that initial wave of bad press crashed over squirrel, more in-depth reporting by folks like Hailu Hernandez and Kennedy began to emerge. And according to former employees, the issues at Squirrelled weren't just about some bad jam. There was an unlicensed secondary kitchen that employees said they felt unsafe in. Some employees claimed they had to hide in that space. When health inspectors came, though, Koslo, through her rep, said that the health department was working with the restaurant to bring the second kitchen up to code.

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There was also an issue of credit and who got it and who didn't. Now this is a dicey issue, and squirrel's PR folks sent me pages of links to employees being praised in the media. But as Koslo received accolades from the food press, some former employees, like Bollo Orozco felt like she was taking credit for dishes that she didn't create.

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You need to they also take credit for like, oh, I did all these dishes or this is mine. This is my recipe is like, this is your restaurant and people works for you.

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And this is the people who working for you, you know, like as a cook, as any cook is so hard to be recognized, you know, and it's so hard to get to a different label that people said I appreciate in something. So maybe you can do something on your own and coronaviruses exposed other bad.

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Feelings in the early days of the lockdown, staff wanted to create a go fund me for squirrelled employees, but they claim Koslo objected to them using squirrel's name for legal reasons. Journalist Halloo Hernandez talked to more than 20 current and former squirrelled staff for her story about the issues at the restaurant.

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When the pandemic hit, which really exposed everyone's vulnerabilities, they felt that Jessica wasn't really there to support them. So it was, you know, all these little aggressions that had added up for them. And then Jessica, refusing to support the Go Fund me was really like the straw that broke the camel's back for a lot of the people that were currently there.

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Still squirrelled committed to paying its employees health benefits at least through June, and it furloughed most folks rather than laying them off. That allowed staff to file for unemployment while the restaurant was closed. But needless to say, it's been a rough few months for Jessica Koslo. So what happens to a business that becomes Internet famous and is later brought down by that same Internet? How do you even come back from that? Rick Kamik is the dean of Restaurant and Hospitality Management at the Institute of Culinary Education.

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He's got 20 years under his belt owning and operating high end restaurants, and he knows that managing all the different interests is a high wire act. Kimock says the restaurant industry is real.

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What have you done for me lately? Business now. What has accelerated that times 50 is social media. Somebody on social media can blow you out of the water so easy. It's, you know, it's incredible.

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And because of the scourge of influencers and superduper yelpers and the like, restaurateurs have to make darn sure that consistency is a top priority.

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You've got that challenge of almost like a Broadway show. You've got to repeat a performance every single day and you're only as good as yesterday.

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And when you're yesterday served up a million stories about moldy jam, featuring side dishes of unacknowledged work and unlicensed kitchens, among other tasty morsels, that can be a rough rebound.

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You know, that's super damaging and especially in times when we're all supposed to be so sensitive to what we're doing from a food safety component. I mean, one of the courses we teachers food safety and I can tell you this, you know, there's 20 things wrong with that picture. So, you know, how do you salvage that?

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I mean, to be perfectly honest, that's a really tough one for public facing businesses like restaurants.

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Reputation is everything. It used to be that food critic could make or break a restaurant. Now, it's also every person who walks through your door with a Yelp or Instagram account. Anastasia's of Yalumba is a business professor at Rice University where she studies reputation management. And she says there's one especially critical element that can turn the tide of a reputation gone south.

[00:32:04]

Trust trust is an important part, and I think they're tightly connected with reputation trust, just like reputation takes time to build. It's not just, you know, one transaction. And I think you're a great company. I'm going to trust you. It does take time.

[00:32:19]

And so Squirrel must build back the trust of its customers, its staff, the community and food media. It's a tall order, but owner Koslo says they're working on it through her rep. She said the house jam process has been changed over. It is now all done by the same hot pack method. And this is my note. That's the method they use for their retail jars of jam. And that process is approved by the California Department of Public Health.

[00:32:47]

Beyond that, we work with an independent food safety professional to make sure we are going above and beyond at squirrel and squirrel away.

[00:32:54]

Like so many businesses and celebrities and others who've been excoriated by the public, Koslo has had to go on a mea culpa tour of sorts. She wrote, I am imperfect and I have made mistakes and I am deeply sorry. She goes on to write together.

[00:33:10]

I think we'll find a way to get back to the place where we all get to hear that really sweet, sweet tune I wrote about when it all began. But her acts of contrition have been met with mixed results, which is kind of on par as far as public apologies go these days.

[00:33:25]

More and more now with these types of apologies, which could be read as just textbook statements feel one sterol and to well, people accept them with skepticism.

[00:33:39]

It's hard to believe in 2020 that anything as simple as a public apology could ever move the needle and the age of social media. We are much harder to satisfy and placate. And I'm sorry, stateman often just doesn't cut it anymore. There must be consequences. Jobs must be lost. Careers must be dashed. Bridges must be burned. The people will get their pound of flesh, or maybe they won't. The news cycle these days is shorter than a life.

[00:34:08]

And these Internet flash fire. I have a way of fizzling out almost as soon as they begin, Bollo Orozco, who now runs his own kombucha company, thinks ultimately none of this will change squirrel's bottom line.

[00:34:21]

I think she's going to be just fine. The restaurant is going to be just fine and it's going to be busy again once everything is done, but the squirrel story is bigger than just one restaurant with some moldy jam.

[00:34:35]

It's about the way we think about restaurants. Who runs them, where are they located and what food do they make? And perhaps most importantly, who works in them? Samantha Halloo Hernandez.

[00:34:47]

I do hope that this sheds light on larger issues within the restaurant industry and within the media world and kind of maybe inspires journalists and other media people to kind of slow down and take into account the stories of workers and to be cautious around creating idols of people without looking deeper at other issues.

[00:35:16]

If covid-19 taught us anything, it's that restaurant workers are absolutely essential. Thank you for your service friends. I mean, in the middle of a global pandemic, people weren't like, oh, Lauren, thank you for risking your life for us. Your half baked jokes really were critical to our survival in this unprecedented time. Your podcast is The Bletch and you've like Carol. We have all been waiting for businesses of closed up shop left and right during the pandemic.

[00:35:44]

And that's rough because we know that the knock on effects can be devastating for families, communities, our whole economic enterprise. If nothing else, this time has required us to recalibrate Retallack, reimagine our visions for ourselves and our work. It's also allowed us to demand what we need from businesses, accountability, sustainability, more delicious takeout options. Maybe it'll lead us to a future with fewer failures, or maybe it'll build up our bounce back muscles for when things do fall apart.

[00:36:16]

Or maybe we'll all just be a little more thoughtful when it comes to how we conduct our business. Who knows? But here's hoping. Spectacular failures as a production of American Public Media. It's written and hosted by me, fruit phobic, finicky person Lauren Ober, semipro bread baker. Whitney Jones is the show's producer. Our editor is jam connoisseur. Phyllis Fletcher, toast maker. David is our assistant producer. Our theme music is by the delightful David Schulman.

[00:36:54]

Other original music this season comes from Jen Champion and Michael Cormier. This season was fact checked by Ryan Katz and Tori Ryan, legal by Mark and InvenSense. Christina Lopez is our audience engagement editor and Lauren is our executive producer concept by Tracy Mumford. Alex Shepard is our CEO. The general manager of APM Studios is Lily Kim. Many thanks to all the rest of our APM buds who helped make the show possible, especially our engineer Johnny Vince Evans special Shout Out to my pal Ken Sarasin for the chats.

[00:37:26]

So much love and gratitude to the following folks. Hanna Rosin, just leave family dinner. The guy from it who always reset my password, Bianca Grimshaw, Killick, Big Russ Duccio and his parents who are pretty OK, too, and my mildly deranged dog, Ralphie, who has been nothing but a pain in the rear during our closet recording sessions. We're well.