• U.S.

The Press: Out of the Restaurants

2 minute read

“My one great goal in life is to be rich enough never to go to a restaurant.” That would seem utter nonsense coming from anyone but Craig Claiborne, now in his 13th year as food news editor of the New York Times. So, with the royalties from five successful cookbooks coming in regularly, Claiborne last week notified New York Times Managing Editor A.M. Rosenthal that he was resigning (“without any animosity”). He will stay on until a replacement can be found.

That will not be easy. In his columns and his book, Guide to Dining Out in New York, Claiborne combines formal gastronomic training, superb taste and a delightfully caustic, even bitchy style. His dismay with Le Pavilion after the death of Henri Soule reached its apex when he spotted a red pencil in the maitre d’s breast pocket. He lamented: “In the days of its glory Le Pavilion was the ultimate French restaurant . . . The waiters now seem to collide with less grace than they did in former days.”

The decision to leave was triggered by a birthday. “I had my 50th birthday three months ago−but not without trauma,” he confessed. “I realized I have many projects I want to get to, writing books and some semi-autobiographical essays. I want to work in my own framework, make my garden grow.”

Another contributing factor was Claiborne’s outspoken “discontent with New York. Every time I pass a sledgehammer, I think how much I want to leave here.” He plans to retire to his home in East Hampton, but not only to write and garden. His hobby is cooking.

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