My Usual Table: A Life in Restaurants

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9780062136473: My Usual Table: A Life in Restaurants

My Usual Table is a love letter to the great restaurants that have changed the way we eat—from Trader Vic’s to Chez Panisse and Spago to elBulli—and a vivid memoir of a life lived in food, from a founding editor of Saveur and James Beard Award-winning writer Colman Andrews.

For reviewer, writer, and editor Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. The establishments he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. From his usual table, he has watched the growth of Nouvelle Cuisine and fusion cuisine; the organic and locavore movements; nose-to-tail eating; and so-called “molecular gastronomy.”

In My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story—from growing up in the sunset years of Hollywood’s golden age to traveling the world in pursuit of great food—with tales of the restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs who are emblematic of the revolutions great and small that have forever changed the way we eat, cook, and think about food.

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Review:

Colman Andrews Gabrielle Hamilton

A Q&A between Colman Andrews and Gabrielle Hamilton, chef–restaurateur (Prune); author of Blood, Bones & Butter

Gabrielle Hamilton: What was the magic of a restaurant like Chasen’s, the famous Hollywood hangout of an earlier era, that generally eludes us today in the restaurant scene — both in the customer and in the establishment?

Colman Andrews: I think Maude and Dave Chasen, like most of the best restaurateurs of their era, were natural hosts, warm and in some ways humble, and they really did welcome their customers and try to make them feel at home. Diners, for their part, understood the rules. They dressed appropriately, rarely made scenes, and knew how to have a good time. There was congeniality in the air.

GH: Are you as happy to eat alone as with companions in restaurants?

CA: Dining with friends, or with people who are more than friends, is of course one of life's delights, but I don't mind sitting at the table by myself, either. A lot of what I've learned about restaurants, about how they work, about their rhythms, their foibles, their behind-the-scenes magic, I've learned as a lone diner, watching the goings-on between bites. It's also a good way to catch up on my reading.

GH: Do you think it’s possible to have a chef-driven restaurant that still makes the customer feel like they can make it their home away from home?

CA: Possible, I guess, but it doesn't happen a lot. The moment I hear "The chef wanted you to…" I know that it's his or her place, not mine. That doesn't mean I won't have a good meal there, even a great one, but I probably won't want to settle in and relax and come back again tomorrow night.

GH: You write that you have won — among many many cookbook awards and magazine-industry honors—a Grammy nomination! What further honor, in what category, would you still like your work to receive?

CA: I entered two poems, old ones but ones I'm quite fond of, in this year's Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize competition, and was disappointed, though hardly surprised, not to have won at least third place.

GH: What is the “low-fat cassoulet” catchphrase you relied on when you and Dorothy Kalins and Christopher Hirsheimer were originally getting together to create Saveur?

CA: Around the time we first started to talk about what Saveur should be, Pierre Frenay, who was a very good, classically trained French chef and a collaborator with Craig Claiborne for the New York Times, published a recipe for just that. I'm sure it was a good recipe, but to me it seemed to symbolize all that we wanted to oppose. If you give recipes for low-fat cassoulet, I said, and quick-and-easy cassoulet, and Cajun cassoulet, and Tex-Mex cassoulet, and lord knows what else, what will happen eventually to real cassoulet, this wonderful, ancient dish, expressing so much culture and tradition? Let's give our readers the closest thing we can to the genuine article, we said, and let them leave out the duck fat if they want to.

GH: What things about wine that you learned from the late Roy Brady do you continue to pass along in your own wine writing?

CA: Above all that there is virtually no dependable relationship between the price or reputation of a wine and the pleasure it will bring the drinker. Also that, contrary to generations' worth of common wisdom, most wines are better young than old.

GH: What are some of the most reliable ways to become a cherished customer in a restaurant, a customer with “a usual table”?

CA: Come back often. Tip well, assuming that the server isn't an idiot (in which case you probably don't want a usual table at the place anyway). Order intelligently. Be polite.


From the Back Cover:

A vivid portrait of a life lived in food, from renowned food writer and critic Colman Andrews, a founding editor of Saveur, James Beard award winner, and author of the classic cookbooks Catalan Cuisine and The Country Cooking of Ireland

For Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. From his Hollywood childhood through his days in the music business, his first forays into restaurant reviewing, and his ever-evolving career as a food writer and magazine editor—not to mention the course of his obsessive traveling and complicated personal life—he has seen the world mostly from the dining room. Now, in My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story with intimate tales of the seminal restaurants and the great chefs and restaurateurs of our time who are emblematic of the revolutions large and small that have forever transformed the way we eat, cook, and feel about food.

In sixteen chapters, each anchored by the story of his love affair with a cherished restaurant, Andrews evokes the unforgettable meals he has eaten over a lifetime, and the remarkable people with whom he has shared them, tracing the evolution not just of our restaurants but our whole food culture. Beginning with a postwar childhood spent in the banquettes of Chasen's, the glamorous Old Hollywood hangout where studio heads and celebrities rubbed shoulders, Andrews charts a course through the psychedelic '60s, when both he and Americans at large fell for the novel "ethnic" food at spots like neo-Polynesian Trader Vic's or Mexican institution El Coyote. As Andrews began traveling for his burgeoning writing and magazine career in the '70s and '80s, he spent countless hours in the family-run cafés of Paris and trattorias of Rome. The timeless dishes so common on their menus, focused on local and seasonal ingredients, would not only come to profoundly influence Andrews's palate, but also transform the American foodscape forever. Andrews's unparalleled access to the world of food positioned him perfectly as an intimate witness to the rise of revolutionary restaurants like Spago and El Bulli.

From Andrews's usual table, he has watched the growth of nouvelle cuisine and fusion cuisine; the explosion of the organic and locavore movements; the rise of nose-to-tail eating; and so-called molecular gastronomy. The bistros, brasseries, and cafés he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. And all along the way, Andrews has been right there in the dining room, menu in one hand and notebook in the other.

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Book Description Ecco, 2014. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: My Usual Table is a love letter to the great restaurants that have changed the way we eatfrom Trader Vic's to Chez Panisse and Spago to elBulliand a vivid memoir of a life lived in food, from a founding editor of Saveur and James Beard Award-winning writer Colman Andrews. For reviewer, writer, and editor Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. The establishments he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. From his usual table, he has watched the growth of Nouvelle Cuisine and fusion cuisi the organic and locavore movements; nose-to-tail eating; and so-called "molecular gastronomy." In My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own storyfrom growing up in the sunset years of Hollywood's golden age to traveling the world in pursuit of great foodwith tales of the restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs who are emblematic of the revolutions great and small that have forever changed the way we eat, cook, and think about food. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_006213647X

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2014. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 160 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. My Usual Table is a love letter to the great restaurants that have changed the way we eat-from Trader Vic s to Chez Panisse and Spago to elBulli-and a vivid memoir of a life lived in food, from a founding editor of Saveur and James Beard Award-winning writer Colman Andrews. For reviewer, writer, and editor Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. The establishments he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. From his usual table, he has watched the growth of Nouvelle Cuisine and fusion cuisine; the organic and locavore movements; nose-to-tail eating; and so-called molecular gastronomy. In My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story-from growing up in the sunset years of Hollywood s golden age to traveling the world in pursuit of great food-with tales of the restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs who are emblematic of the revolutions great and small that have forever changed the way we eat, cook, and think about food. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780062136473

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2014. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 160 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. My Usual Table is a love letter to the great restaurants that have changed the way we eat-from Trader Vic s to Chez Panisse and Spago to elBulli-and a vivid memoir of a life lived in food, from a founding editor of Saveur and James Beard Award-winning writer Colman Andrews. For reviewer, writer, and editor Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. The establishments he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. From his usual table, he has watched the growth of Nouvelle Cuisine and fusion cuisine; the organic and locavore movements; nose-to-tail eating; and so-called molecular gastronomy. In My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story-from growing up in the sunset years of Hollywood s golden age to traveling the world in pursuit of great food-with tales of the restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs who are emblematic of the revolutions great and small that have forever changed the way we eat, cook, and think about food. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780062136473

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc. Hardback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, My Usual Table: A Life in Restaurants, Colman Andrews, My Usual Table is a love letter to the great restaurants that have changed the way we eat-from Trader Vic's to Chez Panisse and Spago to elBulli-and a vivid memoir of a life lived in food, from a founding editor of Saveur and James Beard Award-winning writer Colman Andrews. For reviewer, writer, and editor Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. The establishments he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. From his usual table, he has watched the growth of Nouvelle Cuisine and fusion cuisine; the organic and locavore movements; nose-to-tail eating; and so-called "molecular gastronomy." In My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story-from growing up in the sunset years of Hollywood's golden age to traveling the world in pursuit of great food-with tales of the restaurants, chefs, and restaurateurs who are emblematic of the revolutions great and small that have forever changed the way we eat, cook, and think about food. Bookseller Inventory # B9780062136473

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