Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to cultivate customers

Been so busy this year I've had little time to read, and what I have read has not stood out.

Until I saw that Kenny Shopsin had put out a book late last year.

I first heard of his restaurant years ago from an article in The New Yorker that Calvin Trillin wrote. It's in the forward of "Eat Me."

And, no, I've never been there. The man's a puzzle. He does not want publicity, but has put out a book and maintains a web presence. It reminds me of another place I've never been Seattle's Grouchy Chef.

Both cooks seem to have skills in the kitchen, but subject their customers to sets of rules and are not afraid to kick anyone out for breaking them.

From Shopsin, "Some people tell me they're deathly allergic to something and that I have to make sure it's not in their food. I kick them out too. I don't want to be responsible for anyone's life-or-death situation. I tell them they should go eat in a hospital. Often after I do that, they'll back down and tell me, well, they're not that allergic. And then I really want them to leave because now I know they're assholes."

The book is also blessed with a good portion of Shopsin's recipes, and some cool philosophy on the cooking of eggs, pancakes and soup. It's a book that was more fun than I expected. Now, I have to get to Essex Street, ask for a cheeseburger - and not get kicked out.

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