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Your Table is Ready (Michael Cecchi-Azzolina)

Your Table is Ready (Michael Cecchi-Azzolina)

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    A front-of-the-house Kitchen Confidential from a career maître d’hotel who has manned the front of the room at a glamorous and in-demand swath of restaurants from the 1970’s to 2020.

    From the elegant to the entitled, from royalty to the financially ruined, everyone who wanted to be seen—or just to gawk—at the hottest restaurants in New York City came to places Michael Cecchi-Azzolina helped run. Your Table Is Ready drops us back in time in the most vibrant city in the world, taking us places we’d never have been able to get into on our own: Raouls in Soho with its louche club vibe; Buzzy O’Keefe’s casually chic River Café (the only outer-borough establishment to make the grade), from Keith McNally’s Minetta Tavern to Nolita’s Le Coucou, with its French Country Auberge-meets-winery look and the most exquisite stands of eternally fresh flowers.

    From his early career serving stars like Tennessee Williams and Dustin Hoffman at La Rousse right through to the last pre-pandemic full houses at LeCouCou, Cecchi-Azzolina breaks down how restaurants really run (and don’t), and how the economics work for owners and overworked staff alike. The professionals who gravitate to the business are a special, tougher breed, practiced in dealing with demanding patrons and with each other, in a distinctive ecosystem that’s somewhere between a George Orwell “down and out in….” dungeon and a sleek showman’s smoke-and-mirrors palace.

    Like Stanley Tucci’s “Big Night”, Your Table Is Ready is a history of the era when maitre d’s rather than chefs were the culinary world’s stars. It’s a rollicking, raunchy, revelatory memoir.

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