Monday, December 10, 2007

antoine's archives

So Antoine's has been feeding this city since 1840. And they haven't thrown anything away since then. Well, almost. Recently Liz and I met with Rick Blount, a fifth generation member of the family and he took us on a tour of the attic of Antoine's and there we saw years and years of amazing artifacts and memorabilia: old receipts, magazines, letters, thank-you cards, holy cards (he was a good Catholic), dishes, silverware, posters, menus, photographs and you guess it and it's probably there. He really wanted to organize it in a searchable way but was daunted by the task. Plus, he has a business to run. That's when Liz mentioned the Culinary Corps was coming to town. Like Santa, but they cook.

I dialed Christine Carroll's number and she said "Sure, I'd be happy to bring my volunteers over to sort through restaurant stuff" and they did. We threw away a lot (Just who decided to keep all the covers from Time magazine for 16 years?) but also found amazing items like an invitation to the opening of Lutece. Menus from famous dinners, thank-yous from happy customers, letters of complaint from disgruntled lawyers and photographs of the famous and not so famous. Everything got a good dusting and was sorted into archival boxes with clear labels of what was in them to be catalogued at a future date. We hardly made a dent, (you can't polish off almost 170 years of packrat in 3 hours) but it was a start. I think the Culinary Corp enjoyed the break from cooking and I know Rick appreciated their efforts. He not only fed us well, but everyone went home with an Antoine's cookbook. Hopefully on their next round the Culinary Corps can work a little more on the mountain and soon the museum will be able to use the catalogue for research and exhibits. And Rick will have more attic space to fill with future generations of material...