NEW INFORMATION. Many, many cooks and kitchen staff perished on September 11, from Windows on the World on the 107th floor to short order cooks in little shops in the buildings. Les Dames d'Escoffier International, a non-profit organization of culinary professional women, has set up a fund for the families of these people. To contribute, please make your check out to:
LDEI/LA KITCHEN FUND.
Mail to: 20863 Bentron St.,
Woodland Hills, CA 91384.
All monies will be donated. Les Dames is also in the process of planning fundraising "Diners d'Epicure," to establish a permanent scholarship or award in the name of Windows on the World, so people don't forget. The great, magnanimous French chef Escoffier began these dinners, where the same menu was served simultaneously throughout restaurants in Europe.
Escoffier, who cooked pot-au-feu de cheval for the general staff during a siege in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, was no stranger to war or disaster. When the Titanic went down in 1912, the press made much of the rich and famous on board -- Astor, Rothschild, etc. -- and even though the restaurants and the excellent quality of the food were big drawing points, no one except Escoffier remembered the kitchen staff. Most of the survivors on the Titanic were first-class passengers; with a couple of exceptions, the kitchen staff never made it to the lifeboats. Escoffier tracked down the names of as many as he could and wrote their obituaries, with pictures. A few years later, in World War I, Escoffier set up a fund for the families of the cooks who were killed, even though one of his own sons had been killed.
There is a special place in my heart for Windows on the World. I am looking at a recipe I have had for more than 20 years, and which I got when a colleague of mine ate at the restaurant and came back raving about a dessert. I called the restaurant and the pastry chef then, Nick Malgieri, sent me his recipe for Frozen Amaretto Soufflé (which has now become an Amaretto Semi-freddo to be safer with the eggs).
I am looking at that soufflé-spattered recipe now. It lists the restaurants that were in existence when Windows first opened at the top of the World Trade Center: "The Restaurant," "The Cellar in the Sky," "The City Lights Bar," "Hors D'Oeuvrerie," and "The Statue of Liberty Lounge." Now, of course, there is--there were --"Windows on the World," "Wild Blue," the "Greatest Bar on Earth," all award-winning and all gone. Fortunately, gifted, personable Executive Chef Michael Lomonaco is still with us. The special on Tuesday at Wild Blue would have been Crisp Sweetbread Salad; at Windows on the World, it would have been Roast Suckling Pig. Gone are the Soft-Hearted Devil's Food Cupcakes and the Lady Libertini, their unique martini. Gone are the private dining and catering rooms that served 2 to 2000: the Ballroom, where I attended the wedding of two Vassar classmates; The Hudson, Manhattan, and Pinnacle Suites, the Cellar in the Sky, and the Liberty Suites -- gone. The Wine School, under Kevin Zraly -- gone.
The view from the 107th floor was indeed spectacular. As you looked down into the harbor, the Statue of Liberty raised her torch up toward you. Zagat says Windows on the World "put diners close to heaven." Let's band together and, like Escoffier, help their survivors here on earth.