In this week’s Gourmet Live, The Style Issue, I profile the artist and food stylist, Paul Grimes, who brings a painter’s eye to the preparation of food for the camera. Since high school, Grimes has also spent a lot of time in restaurant kitchens and dining rooms—working and dining in both—so I was curious to get his take on current trends in that industry.
Open Kitchens: “I am not a fan of open kitchens, or the entertainment of the open kitchens. When I go to a restaurant, I am not interested in watching them make my food. I am more interested in the people I go with. I work in kitchens. I’m not going to pay money to watch a kitchen.”
Music: “I do not like music in restaurants. This trend for loud music? People have the attention span of a tsetse fly!”
Front of the House: “I like the waiter station to be close to the door. I think it is awkward walking into a large space, and you don’t know where to go. You should be immediately taken care of. At Taillevent in Paris, they had an electronic system when you came in the door, so that [the late] Monsieur Vrinat was already walking down the hall to greet you. Whether you were the King of Jordan or Joe Schmo, you were treated equally.”
Lighting: “Good lighting is vital. I hate it when people adjust the lighting in a restaurant. It’s like a lightning bolt has gone through the room, and you never detect that the lighting has dimmed.”
Napkins: “I hate polyester napkins!”
Bathrooms: “I hate bathrooms next to the kitchen.”
At this point, you might wonder what Grimes does like in a restaurant, besides a warm greeting, no music, good lighting, linen napkins, and of course, good food. “I love beautiful flowers,” he said with a sigh, “and clean water in the glass flower vases!”