There exists a recipe for "the perfect waiter," writes Anne Tylar, herself a waiter (and, thank goodness, not "waitperson") at the Union Square Cafe in New York City. It is as follows: ". . . Two parts Walter Cronkite to one part Mae West, carefully blended with a cup of Mikhail Baryshnikov and a liberal sprinkling of Mother Teresa." Tylar offers this prescription in an essay she penned recently for the Society of American Cuisine's recent "The Year of the Waiter" essay competition. Her entry won the "grand grand prize"--an all-expense-paid coast-to-coast culinary tour.
And why does Tylar counsel her particular mix of ingredients? Cronkite, she writes in part, "exudes an air of confidence and knowledge. . . . He seeks answers to questions and is constantly increasing his knowledge." Mae West suggests, among other things, "the air of temptress" and "a light-hearted sense of humor and adventure." Baryshnikov is there for such virtues as "learned grace, agility and strength," for his "constant sense of readiness" and for his realization that "a ballet is not a solo performance." And Mother Teresa, of course, provides "saintly forgiveness . . . patience . . . (and a) benevolent expression and soothing tone of voice." Specialized seasonings, Tylar continues, could be added as necessary--Louis Jourdan for a French restaurant, Jane Fonda for a health food bar.
Eight other waiters were given "grand" and "special" prizes in the competition, incidentally--but not one of them, sorry to say, was from Los Angeles. It's not that our own waiters can't write. It's probably just that they're all too busy with their screenplays to bother with mere essays.
FRANCE DANCE: Stuff happens in France in the fall, in restaurants as in other fields of endeavor. Folks are back from their summer vacations, hungry for something new--and just plain hungry, too. Here's some of what's going on in culinary circles in the Ultimate Food Country right now:
In Paris, chef Patrick Lenotre, nephew of famed pastry chef Gaston Lenotre and chef himself for some years at the two-star Le Pre Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne and then at Les Jardins on the Champs-Elysees, has left the latter place to open a new restaurant, Patrick Lenotre by name, on the site of the old Guy Savoy on the rue Duret. . . .
Jean-Paul Duquesnoy has moved his two-star establishment, Duquesnoy, to the avenue Bousquet, to the premises once occupied by La Bourgogne. His old place on the rue des Bernadins, meanwhile, is now called Diapason, and is under the direction of a young chef named Jean-Claude Olivier. . . .
The one-star Charentais seafood emporium La Cagouille has moved to new, larger quarters on the Place Brancusi. . . .
Jean-Claude Vrinat, proprietor of the ultra-fancy, flawlessly-run three-star institution called Taillevent, has shocked the conservative Parisian restaurant community by hiring a 31-year-old Englishwoman, Fiona Beeston, to supervise his famous wine cellars and keep up his wine list. . . .
And one of the hottest new places in Paris this season is an unlikely restaurant called Geopoly, on the rue Montmartre, where the gimmick is that there are seven chefs, each with his own kitchen, and each preparing dishes from his own home town--Paris, New York, Marrakech, Beijing, Rome, Port-au-Prince and Stockholm, respectively. . . .
Elsewhere in France, Jean Bardet, whose wonderful if rather plain restaurant in dreary Chateauroux I reviewed in these pages last year, has moved to a new location, worthy of his talents--a magnificent little chateau in Tours, brightly furnished and surrounded by a lush garden, with guest rooms adjacent. . . .
Three-star chef Louis Outhier, of L'Oasis in La Napoule on the French Riviera, has announced that he will close his restaurant permanently in January. . . .
And chef Marc Meneau, of the three-star L'Esperance in Saint-Pere-sous-Vezalay, has agreed to create some 20 dishes (if that's the right word), to be freeze-dried or packaged in cans or tubes, for cosmonauts on the Soviet space shuttle scheduled to be launched in late 1988. Harrumph! And after all the bucks we good old freedom-loving Americans have spent at his place over the years. (Incidentally, if you forgive the guy and would like to get to know him better anyway, there are still openings for his week of cooking classes and meals at the Robert Mondavi Winery, Nov. 17-22. Call (707) 944-2866 for details.)
HOT OFF THE GRILL: Two big food-oriented events are going on today, and just might have room for you if you hurry: The Callaway Vineyard and Winery in Temecula hosts "An Autumn Tasting of Southern California Food and Wine" from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring the wares of scores of farmers, wine makers, food producers and chefs. Tickets are $20. Call (714) 676-4001 for more. . . . And Lalo and Brothers in Encino stages their First Annual Autumn Festival, to benefit the Women's Care Cottage, at the Plaza de Oro Fashion Centre, from noon to 6 p.m. La Toque, Orleans, Celestino, the Parkway Grill and, of course, Lalo itself are among the participants, as are wineries galore. Tickets are $30 ($10 for children).