Masterchef S01 ep15: Sirio Maccione, Le Cirque Restaurant, [New York]
Interview with Sirio Maccione
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor came in and they looked at the table but it was a banquette and they were only two of them. I said please your highnesses come in, I showed them to a table and I said, I think for the two of you this is better. The Duke of Windsor said to me, "Never think for me what is better", just like that. They were not very happy but then I asked them to order and I gave them two small appetizers. They looked around and said "Who is Italian here, who is from Montecatini?" I said it is I, and they looked at me and everything changed.
KM: What is Le Cirque?
We are restaurateurs.
KM: What does that mean because that is something that is going to be lost,
when your generation goes?
It is already lost.
KM: But what is the difference?
It is a restaurant that creates its own philosophy.
KM: Why did you call it Le Cirque?
In French you say, What did you do last night. Oh we went out, we had a good
time, it was like a Le Cirque you know we say that
KM: The circus, yes.
It was like a circus, like a circus so we put Le Cirque and for 22 years, we were
My grandfather was a concierge and the difference between him and his
brothers they were farmers. When I saw my grandfather leave in the morning
with gold key and everything, I would think look how lucky my grandfather is, to
go and work without having to stay in the sun. I did not decide to be farmer for
many reasons and so I went in there. After a few years, the school said we do
for the first time a student exchange. My grandmother who was very
intelligent, she said, go!
I went to Paris with the arrangement for me to do a stage at the Plaza
Athenaeum and when I arrived, the Director of personnel, started to talk to me
in French. I said, please I really don't speak French, and so he said, how can
you work if you don't speak French? Never mind he said, come back in 3
I met a family called Fiore that had a restaurant in Paris, with a restaurant
called Florance. This family took pity on me and they told me o.k. come in and
KM: It was a turning point for you!
Yes, it was a turning point for me - it was the reason I could survive in France.
KM: IN Paris.
Yves Montagne came from the same street, the same town that I came from.
The French think it is impossible but Yves Montagne was Italian completely.
He left for France when he was six years old. I had a letter that which I never
thought I was going to use…
There was a restaurant in Paris that had a reputation that it did not take any
foreigners and this restaurant was called Maxim. Yves Montagne took me to
meet with the owner and what did I learn at Maxims, I learnt about Maxim's
philosophy which I still use.
You never say no to a table of important people and this was a part of the so
called Café Society, who then became the Jetset. Then some wrong press did
not know what they were talking about but before was café society which
meant the people, the important people that they met at some place called the
café - makes sense - they went to this place to have good food but simple
food. They did not want to be impressed by presumptuous chef, me and moi -
you know. The people went in there because you know they were comfortable
and because they knew that they belonged there.
I learnt in Germany, in France and in Europe to hate the chef. A saucier was a
schizophrenic person in those days. Today most chefs are schizophrenic - not
mine, my chefs are very good. And the Pastry chef they are what they are
because the sugar goes in their brain.
Technically the chef is the enemy of the customer
For a very simple reason, they all get upset - they will get upset at what I’m
about to say - because in the kitchen they work very hard. Somebody sends
back something and it is a tragedy - everything stops. Why do they send it
back? Call me the owner, call me the maitre de - This thing is not good, the
chef says - this dish is perfect, I will not do another dish. This is stupidity
because they know very well that they would have to do another dish.
For my difficult moment at the Colony the first day, Onassis usual table,
Sinatra usual table, Duke and Duchess of Windsor usual table, Charleton
Heston usual table, Lillian Heyworth usual table, Trumon Capote usual table -
all these kind of things.
You cannot say what it is so I wait for the owner and I say, can you tell me. He
took me to a table in the corner and he said this is the table. Everybody thinks
that they own this table, but you want to be the maitre de so it is your problem.
I automatically applied the mentality, first come first served. And that is how it
was, because you cannot keep a table. So on my first day it was a big kind of
a tragedy, but also success.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor came in and they looked at the table but it
was a banquette and they were only two of them. I said please your
highnesses come in, I showed them to a table and I said, I think for the two of
you this is better. The Duke of Windsor said to me, “Never think for me what is
better”, just like that. They were not very happy but then I asked them to order
and I gave them two small appetizers. They looked around and said “Who is
Italian here, who is from Montecatini?” I said it is I, and they looked at me and
KM: What is it that makes people come back, what is the essence of great
To think that you are there to keep the people happy. First of all have to
remember to keep your side of the deal, never have a stupid approach to
anybody who comes into the restaurant. It is forbidden to go to a customer and
ask if everything is all right because it is never all right. So instead you ask can
I do anything. Tonight we have Like Donald Trump all these people who have
their own restaurants but they come here because I anticipate what they want
and I make everything happen. I excite the room but I also control the room.
And this is difficult because it is a personal interpretation.
KM: Are you here every day still?
What do you do if Ivana and Donald Trump come for dinner?- I am on good
terms with both of them and now they have a better relationship I sit them next
to each other. And I can go to Donald and tell him, “Do me a favour, go to
Ivana and take her order”. Nobody else can do this!
OFFICIAL WEBSITE:Sirio Maccione, Le Cirque Restaurant, [New York]