Food Arts presents its June 1990 Silver Spoon Award for sterling performance to Patrick Terrail, indomitable restaurateur and consummate showman. It was he who, in the late 1970s at the original Ma Maison on Melrose Avenue, first jet-fueled Los Angeles's quantum leap from culinary backwater to its present gastronomic prominence by, among other things, setting newcomer Wolfgang Puck loose in the kitchen.
Restaurants, he says, are in his blood. Born in Paris during ht eGerman Occupation, Mr. Terrail represents the fifth generation in his family to put a personal stamp on the business. His parisian great grandfather oversaw the legendary Café Anglais, frequented by luminaries of the day, including Czar Alexander II and Kaiser Wilhelm. Grandfather André became proprietor of La Tour d'Argent in 1910; Uncle Claude still operates this four-centuries-old Parisian landmark restaurant, famed for its view of the Seine and signature duck "pressed" at table-side in a magnificent silver vise.
An inherited family flair is evident in everything from Mr. Terrail's trademark red carnation pinned to the lapel of his dashingly tailored suits to his boulevardier wit, swooping old-world hand kisses, and natural bent for creating glamorous auras—at his current Ma Maison in the Ma Maison Sofitel he's carefully set the stage to allow Hollywood stars to shine not only on his grand entrance stairway, but down from the heavens through a show-stopping slide-away skylight.
Mr. Terrail has worked long and hard to maintain high standards as a restaurateur, food-industry consultant, author, and cooking-school operator, and has born the occasional career dip with admirable aplomb. His worldly European upbringing, augmented by hands-on training in the American hotel and restaurant trenches, has enabled him to gracefully span the professional chasm between formal Continental traditions and the contemporary California code of the casual.
Now he's intent on part-time teaching, passing along his outspoken opinions and worldly knowledge to students entering the field. We hope they listen closely.