Sunday, June 8, 2008

Me and The Four Seasons

The other night looking for a civilized dining experience at which we could actually hear each other, I took my friends to the Four Seasons restaurant (99 East 52nd Street; 212 754 9494). It remains marvelous.

I was moved to consider how much of my personal and professional life was caught up in this Phillip Johnson designed, land-marked beauty in what was originally the Seagram Building with great art chosen by the daughter of the family. There is a Lippold over the bar, a huge Picasso (originally a stage drop) on the wall of the hall joining the Grill Room and the Pool Room and a very large Frank Stella portractor series oil in the large private dining room.

I wrote the second Four Seasons--their cookbook--for Tom Margittai and Paul Kovi--who were the operators at that time when the chef was Seppi Rengli. Both of these charming Hungarians became good friends. I still exchange e mails with Tom.

Earlier I had met the brilliant Joseph Baum--also a Hungarian heritage--there. He was one of the great innovators of the restaurant business. I admired his decision to try and make what was the first contemporary American restaurant in the space. It was not about nostalgia but about the creative now. Long before the current stress on fresh and local, he had herbs growing on the roof and the famous composer John Cage foraging wild mushrooms for him. Sadly they had a falling out when John felt that they should be paid for based on their rarity and Joe wanted a flat price so he could make a stable menu.

I went on to work with Joe at The World Trade Center and at The Rainbow Room. More about those struggles another day.

I had many lunches with my co-teacher, the gigantic James Beard, in the Grill Room.

If you like this kind of memory let me know. There is so much.

6 comments:

Meg said...

I love learning people's histories, particularly when they involve tidbits such as the John Cage trivia.

Thanks for what you are doing, including your recipes and techniques.

Barbara said...

Thank you. It is comments such as yours that keep me going. Give a look at Recipe Library in the microwave section for my first stab at videos

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Barbara - I am excited to find out you have a blog. I recently got your book, Soup A Way of Life shipped from amazon. Recommended by a friend for the Oysters Rockefeller Soup, so I had to have it. I have spent that last hour reading the book and thought I would look for you on the internet. I might make the Faux Pho tonight, as I have all the ingredients here. Thank you!
I look forward to exploring your blog, as I have a food blog as well...

Anonymous said...

Please continue sharing your fascinating professional adventures....it makes for the best foodie-vicarious reading!!!

Barbara said...

Lori thanks and let me know the name of your web site so that I can visit.

Anonymous, are you a friend in hiding? I will tell as the fit comes on me.

Lori Lynn said...

Thank You Barbara - Please stop by! Eventually I will make your Oysters Rockefeller Soup, and post photos of it (always giving proper credit, of course).
Taste With The Eyes is at:
http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/