Elderism #16

October 26th, 2008

Foul-mouthed cult figure Kenny Shopsin–he’s the eccentric, sixtysomething New York City chef and restaurant owner who Calvin Trillin wrote about in the New Yorker, and whose menu has 900 items on it, some of them bizarro–has been getting a lot of love for his new cookbook, Eat Me. Typical of Shopsin’s, uh, charm, is his avowal in Eat Me that, yes, pancakes are tasty, but,

“They are flour and milk drowned in butter and some form of sugar. They’re crap.”

Also, Shopsin–who has been known to scream at his customers, and who will not accept parties of four or more–maintains that the customer is always wrong

“until they show me they are worth cultivating [as customers].”

But, as it turns out, he’s not all prickle. The United States of Arugula author David Kamp writes that Eat Me‘s epilogue “reveals a depth and humanity to Kenny Shopsin that belies the fat-crank caricature.” To wit,

“I know it goes against our capitalist system,” Shopsin writes, “but I have never been interested in the normal symptoms of success, such as higher profit margins and expansion of income. I have never had a goal to make money so that I could retire or so that I could hire a low-wage employee to do the cooking for me…Running a restaurant for me is about running a restaurant. It is not a means to get someplace else. I wake up every morning, and I work for a living like a farmer. Running a restaurant is a condition of life for me. And I like everything about this life.”