Food Arts presents its September 1990 Silver Spoon Award for sterling performance to Adam Tihany, in recognition of his singular string of hit restaurant designs (which now number well over 100) here and abroad. His recent roster of credits includes Ciba in Boston, Bice in Chicago, Huberts in New York City, and the bicoastal sibling Remi restaurants, of which he is co-owner.
This is the man whom a magazine interviewer once branded a Euro-sexist for making a crack that "women were meant to have babies and men were meant to have restaurants." Born in Transylvania on New Year's Day in 1948, Tihany at the age of three was taken by his parents to live in Jerusalem, where he spent his school years, followed by a stint in the Israeli military as a member of an Air Force radar unit. After the Six Day WAr in 1967, he decided to spread his own wings and took off for architectural studies in Italy. Italian architects, Tihany has pointed out, are unlike American ones in that they harbor no superiority complexes about working in the related design fields. Following their freewheeling example, he soon garnered a number of prestigious Italian awards for everything from lighting systems to plastic laminates to bathroom modules.
In 1975, the rising young architect/designer/art director moved shop to New YOrk City. Since 1978 his business card has read President, Adam D. Tihany International, Ltd., an "atelier" devoted to commercial and residential interiors, and exhibition, graphic, and product design. In 1987, he and his partner, chef Francesco Antonucci, opened a Venetian-style restaurant, Remi, in Manhattan; Remi in Santa Monica opened this summer. As a dividend, Tihany reports, "My hands-on experience operating a restaurant now gives me that much more to offer my clients.
It's said that to master another language is to gain another soul. Tihany, wittily fluent in Hungarian, Hebrew, Italian, and English, appears to be the walking, talking evidence of the truth of this. His chameleon-like adaptability to the needs and desires of his radically disparate clients makes him as comfortable cooking up a supper club in Barcelona, as a hotel in Israel, a 16,000-square-foot Florida residence for an English restaurateur, a new Bice in Paris, a Caribbean resort complex, or a bistro-=style offshoot of a formal Munich restaurant for a chef/owner who complains that "he hasn't seen a young person for ten years." And might that early radar experience account for his ultrasonic sensitivity to onrushing swerves in the dining public's tastes? We'd like to think so.