Speaking of Sheldon Adelson, living in Los Angeles put the Sweetie and me in the celebrity drop-in zone. Although we never became famous or never hung out with cool movie folk—heck, we never knew anyone who lived in a house instead of an apartment—we did walk about on the same physical plane with the stars. Here are a few of our stories.
I was new on the grill at Trumps but had heard all about Sheldon Adelson, the restaurant’s primary investor. Those in vogue use trendy, expensive restaurants as an opportunity to flex their status muscles and, with their demands, slow down the rhythm of a busy night in the kitchen: no fat on his steak, substitute fries for gaufrettes, fire a well-done hamburger to go for the nanny, sauce on the side (in a porcelain dish, please), and, everyone’s favorite show-stopper, he wants “something special and off the menu.” Anyways, Mr. Adelson’s (as he was fondly known by the staff) pleasure when dining at Trumps was to come into the kitchen to survey his domain. One night after his special meal, he entered, walked up to Michael Roberts, and asked, “Who cut the rib-eyes tonight, mine was a few ounces over.”
The line cooks turned as one and pointed to me with their tongs.
“Let’s check out the rest of those rib-eyes”, he said. Sure enough, all but four were one to two ounces heavier than the 10-ounce limit. He winked at me, wagged his finger, and chided, “Gotta watch those food costs.”
In the early 1980s, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his cigar-smoking, body-building cronies were regulars at the Bicycle Shop Cafe where my friend Lori worked as a server. She was Arnold’s favorite and he requested her section whenever he came in. When she told him she was moving to Washington D.C., he said, “D.C.—that’s Hollywood for ugly people.” Luckily for his image, no one could mean tweet or turn him in to TMZ and he became more sensitive as he moved up the political ladder.
Out in Malibu on the PCH, Lori’s sister Karen wrangled celebrities at Pålette and Les Anges. Tall, handsome, charming Gregory Peck and quiet, unassuming Yoko Ono with son Sean were her favorites, Barbra Streisand—not as much.
I was on foot waiting for the light to change on Broxton Avenue in Westwood and caught a glimpse of a jeans belt on the person standing next to me. I glanced over and up, then up some more, to see Kareem Abdul Jabbar. There really is no story here, the light turned green and I never saw him again.
Bud Cort, best known for his role in Harold and Maude, was a regular at the Border Grill.
I went to a pool party that both Divine and Jodi Foster attended. Not much of a story here either. They kept to themselves, didn’t swim or mingle.
Sweetie and I stood in line at the Mann Westwood Village Theater with Brian Austin Green, of Beverly Hills 90210 fame. We didn’t exactly chat, but he did ask if we knew when the show started.
In the kitchen at City Restaurant, I boxed up a skirt steak on naan bread to go for Zsa Zsa Gabor’s dog, waiting in the car with the driver (the dog, that is). Neither Zsa Zsa nor the driver tipped—the dog ate the steak without comment. Sweetie also saw Zsa Zsa and game show magnate Merv Griffin at Hollywood Park on their way into the ultra-swell Cary Grant Pavilion.
I cooked the food for Guns and Roses, who played at City Restaurant in 1988 after the MTV Awards show. Anyways, that’s what the servers said. By the time I could sneak a look, they were long gone.
As I look back on my list, I realize how dated my star sightings are—not a Kardasian, Swift, or Cee Lo in the mix. But I’m telling you, back in the day…
Rib-eye or Skirt Steak Marinade
- 1⁄2 c. olive oil
- 3 T. red wine vinegar
- 2/3 c. soy sauce
- 3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 T. dry mustard
- 1 T. Tabasco
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. black pepper
Marinate skirt steaks, rib eye or sirloin overnight. Grill a couple minutes per side and slice against the grain. Serve with horseradish mustard.
- 1/2 cup stone-ground mustard
- 2 T. horseradish