24 February 2014

A Voice From Longchamps

I received this message the other day from someone who's father long ago worked at Longchamps, the sophisticated eatery chain whose restaurants once papers the city. It's a lovely memory:
My father was one of the chefs for Longchamp's. He worked there from around 1940 to 1952, where he had a heart attack and was disabled after that. I believe he worked mainly at the one on 79th street in NYC, however, I seem to remember him going to help out at 34th and 59th street. It is a little vague since I was born in 1940. His name was John Motta. I do remember when I was about 8 or 10 he had come home one day and said he had been promoted to head chef. He had created several recipes for the restaurant and one I would like to get my hands on was for a special vinaigrette sauce, thick with finely chopped peppers, onion, garlic and basil. On my birthday, he would buy and bring me home their special Hazelnut cake with the mocha icing and of course once or twice I got one of their dolls that the restaurant sold for a birthday or Christmas. Reading about this brings back memories. He sang opera at home and loved Enrico Caruso and even tried out at the Metropolitan Opera.
Which makes me wonder: Dolls? How can I get a Longchamps doll?

If you're interested, here are some of my past posts on Longchamps.


Dan said...

Welcome back Brooks!

Anonymous said...

Dear Son of Mr. Motta--What a great memory. Thanks for telling it. Longchamps was a very special occasion place when I was a kid---even the name made us 10 year olds feel worldly and elegant.

And more than this---getting dressed to go there and being there, made us feel we were being initiated into an adult New York life. An important passage.

Mitch said...

Glad you're back Brooks! And I want a Longchamps doll too - for my daughter of course.

Kevin said...

I wonder if the is a Longchamp's Cook Book out there with that dressing recipe? During the period your father worked there was during Jan Mitchell's ownership. Seeing how he released a Luchow's cookbook during that period, perhaps a similiar book was compiled for Longchamp's.

IE said...

Brooks - Good to see you back. I remember Longchamps. We used to go to the one on 12th Street and Fifth Avenue when I was a kid. My aunt and uncle lived near there. It seemed very sophisticated to me at the time.