Monday, March 16, 2009

Vintage TV: David Susskind and Six NY Restaurateurs

Watch five once-famous restaurateurs and Sirio Maccione talk about what is takes to make a great restaurant. You will notice that none of them are chefs and recall that it was not that long ago that chefs became the principal public representatives of the restaurant business. Before chefs, it was the "suits" who ruled the roost -and still do in many cases. However nowadays, if a suit is in charge of the house he puts the chef out front because he knows the public likes us better.

Why the public prefers to see chefs out front is not something that I pretend to understand. It is not in any way obvious to me that cooks are, as a species of worker, intrinsically more or less entertaining than a matre d' hotel or a busboy for that matter.

This is from which seeds in short commercials.


charcuteire said...

Personally I've never cared for Le Cirque. Far too crowded and noisy, nor was the food that impressive. I do understand I am not the person he is catering too. I also wasn't the person paying the tab, who did like that kind of spotlight.

However George Lang of Cafe des Artistes is the sort of old school resturanter who is at least as interesting as the chef. One of the first times I was in their with my wife I was seated next to Jason Robbards, who, even though on a first name basis with Mr. Lang, received no more attention than we did.

The food is also well worth the price.

One time we were in there and a little ole lady, think The Producers, was protesting the table she was being shown to. Mr. Lang came over, interupted and went: 'Francis, Mrs whatever, always wishes to sit under her portrait'. She had been one of the mural models.

Dan said...

I'll argue that it's because of the mystique that preparation of food still holds in the mind of public, even if people are slowly becoming less alienated from working in their own kitchens.

Someone who's never worked in a professional kitchen nor in the front of the house, even if they have no idea how challenging the tasks of the servers and bussers are, will still think they can memorize dishes, carry three plates at once, make roll-ups, and be obsequious. The challenge of sous vide, say, seems a lot more intimidating, and beyond their capabilities.

My thoughts, at least.

Trig said...

...which seeds in short commercials... visible in the US only!

IdahoRocks said...

Having grown up in LaLaLand, I've been to the worst and the best restaurants, but after all is said and done, I find that the places I enjoy the most are the ones that serve food that I don't make myself, give warm and friendly service to everyone, and employ competent chefs.

Some "famous" places do this, but so do some mom and pop ethnic joints. As a budding anthropologist at UCLA, a cadre of us used to seek out all the ethnic places in LA and so many ethnicities were represented! We had food from every continent and some of those places served the best food I've ever tasted. And I have to admit, I always wanted to thank the chef for creating such a delicious and unique dining experience. But it's not the artistic display, however much I appreciate that kind of creativity, it's all in the taste and how it lingers in the mouth. Yummm, I can taste the various foods as my memory conjures up the experiences in my mind.