I noted recently in this column that chef Roy Yamaguchi of 385 North was going to cook some prix fixe High Holy Day dinners in honor of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays. Earlier this year, we reported on imaginative Passover dinners offered at Spago and Angeli. Beverly Hills attorney Nathan Chroman, who certainly knows the restaurants of Los Angeles well (and who writes a weekly wine column in The Times' Food section), has called to say, in effect, "Now just a darned minute there."
"There's no such thing as a 'High Holy Day dinner' in Judaism," he said. "There are holidays and ceremonies with food attached--almost all Jewish holidays have food attached--but these are significant and meaningful rituals, not just an excuse to eat. Prayers are always made over the table, and the meal becomes a very holy event. I'm not sure it isn't a little demeaning for people who aren't Jewish to treat these holidays just as a chance to create some unusual dishes--and I'm surprised some rabbi hasn't commented on the phenomenon."
Look at it this way, Chroman concludes: "You wouldn't want to see Spago emulate the Last Supper, would you?" (But wait a minute. Wasn't that a Jewish ceremony with food attached--a Seder, in fact--too?)
MONSTER CHILLER HORROR DINNER: It's almost Halloween--a holiday best known gastronomically for candy and for the ritual scooping out of the delicious interior of pumpkins and discarding of it. On a slightly higher plane, though, Lawry's California Center near downtown gets a head start on the occasion by holding a "spooky" Halloween Party this evening, beginning with a carved-pumpkin contest at 4 p.m. Masked mariachis will serenade you and eerie effects are promised. . . . Bourbon Street in Encino fetes Halloween with a party starting at 6 p.m. Friday. . . . Halloween doings, too, that night, at the Bicycle Shop Cafe in West Los Angeles, also from 6 p.m. . . . On a more--no, make that less --sober note, three of the world's best wine writers, Hugh Johnson, Gerald Asher and Bob Thompson, will conduct a food-and-wine dinner featuring rare and old French and Californian vintages at Square One in San Francisco next Sunday evening. The tariff is $200 per person, all inclusive. Information: (415) 788-1110. . . . In other wine news, every major Californian producer of methode champenoise sparkling wines will be presenting his or her wares, also next Sunday, at the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. The program, which runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and costs $20 (tax deductible) per ticket, is sponsored by the Southern California Restaurant Writers--and thus food will, of course, be included. . . . And Ira Spilky holds a seminar entitled "How to Start a Successful Fast-Food Restaurant" Wednesday at Pacific Coast College in Westchester. Information: (213) 276-2000.
NEWS FROM ALL OVER: Daniel Bolout, the highly acclaimed chef at Manhattan's Plaza-Athenee Hotel, has moved over to the near-legendary Le Cirque--replacing Alain Sailhac, who is semi-retiring to act as a restaurant consultant. Sailhac remains at the restaurant through the end of the year to smooth the transition. . . . Ron Smoire, former sous-chef at 72 Market Street in Venice and more recently head chef at the California-style Marshal's in Paris (reviewed recently in these pages), has left the latter establishment and is set to take over the kitchen at a brand-new contemporary American place, also in Paris, scheduled to open early next year. Ted Hiscox, who had been sous-chef at Marshal's, is now top toque there. . . . Grace Kirschenbaum has launched a new newsletter called "World of Cookbooks," a bimonthly review of cookbooks and related volumes from all over the world, both in English and in foreign languages--together with news about cookbook authors' new projects and discussions of subjects like cookbook plagiarism. Subscriptions are $25 a year. Write to Kirschenbaum at 1645 S. Vineyard Ave., Los Angeles 90019, or call (213) 933-1645.
NEW TABLES IN TOWN: La Place Verte is new, on the site of the former Silvana'a on La Cienega. . . . T. Bone's has materialized where the old Magic Pan used to be in Beverly Hills. . . . La Pasteria (staffed by many old familiar faces from Ma Maison) is cooking on Melrose in Hollywood. . . . And Bruce Alexander, former president of Barnabey's Hotel in Manhattan Beach, and Fred Olivier, co-owners of the Patissier Bakery in Glendale, have bought Reflections, also in Glendale, and will change its name to Bistro Patissier at the end of November.