Thursday, 25 November 2010

The day I met Les Tanner

I have some very old fashioned ideas about running a restaurant. I like going shopping . I enjoy the random chaos that markets and provedores provide. I enjoy talking to shopkeepers, stall holders, growers and all people at the coalface of this diverse industry. I am also slightly dyslexic and only ingredients that I can see and touch can trigger ideas. That’s really the only way I can write a menu. Yesterday afternoon as I popped in to one of our suppliers to pick up some basic staples the young lady in the office asked me what was probably a very innocent icebreaker of a question that triggered a memory from a time when I had just embarked upon this roller coaster of a life in food.
“And what kind of cooking do you do?” She asked.
This immediately took me back thirty years. We were young and not yet experienced enough to know what the media was and how public exposure can influence people’s interpretations of something simple- like a meal in a restaurant. We were new to the game, questioning everything determined to simplify and yet continue deep traditions that at the time we were just beginning to study. A friend had telephoned and said she was bringing a very highly respected journalist and cartoonist for dinner whose work I really admired. His name was Les Tanner.
At the beginning of the meal Les asked “and what type of cooking do you do? “
I struggled to find the words to explain what we were doing and blurted out that we were practicing Gestalt Cuisine. Les laughed and with an impish smile said that he did not really like German food but that the Japanese have a way that combines metaphysics with the rituals of the table that perhaps I may enjoy investigating.
Its a hard ask. We just cook? Still, I’m proud to say in a Gestalt kind of way.

Get off the beach! You're Obscene 
By Les Tanner from the Bulletin October 1961


My Restaurants Melbourne said...

What a beautiful story, that was a great light hearted read. Where a bouts is the restaurant?

Peter Tibbles said...

Les Tanner was a sublime cartoonist who could always cut to the chase, the quick, of anything to which he set his pencil. He's greatly missed.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Hi Peter

Love the music will link.