The raked theatre of the restaurant

Behind the scenes with restaurateurs

The raked theatre of the restaurant

The Art of the Restaurateur

by Nicholas Lander

Phaidon (Penguin), $45 hb, 351 pp, 9780714864693

Gay Bilson

Gay Bilson

Gay Bilson was, for twenty-five years (1973–1998), a restaurateur and cook in Sydney. She has created and directed several events

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‘Hello, my name is Tony. I’m your waiter, and I’ll be dining with you tonight.’

One subspecies of cartoon in the New Yorker addresses the balance of power between diners and waiters. The caption above, from a cartoon by P.C. Vey, accompanies a drawing of a bemused couple holding menus, and looking at a waiter who is sitting at their table with a glass of wine. Absurd as this hypothetical situation is, it pricks at one of the central difficulties that all fine-dining restaurants must address: the distance kept by, and the demeanour of, the person without whom diners would be inhospitably stranded in a room that offers the promise of infinite riches.

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Published in April 2013 no. 350

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