Ode to Windows on the World

One of my all time favorite chefs is Michael Lomonaco who was the chef at Windows on the World and fortunately survived the horror of 9-11 as he was on the main floor of the World Trade Tower picking up his glasses at a Cohen Optics.

When I did this segment on his show it was filmed in his kitchen on the top floor of the building and I was there between the hours of 7 and 10 am so of course it hit home how it could have been on that fateful day instead where tragically everyone up there died. I still remember the extraordinary view. It had rained the day before so the clarity was amazing. To the North I could see all the way up to Bear Mountain where I had spent many a childhood Sunday, and to the East, Far Rockaway and the Atlantic Ocean, where I had been born.

Michael had told me that his favorite pie was pumpkin so that was the one I chose to demonstrate. I promised him the best one he had ever tasted and he did, in fact, agree as he put it on the holiday menu for the entire month of Thanksgiving.

As a side note, I prepared the filling ahead of the filming on his bank of burners referred to as the piano. I will never forget the intensity of heat generated by that bank of high BTU burners hidden by cast iron plates. It felt hotter than the Masada (which if you've ever been to Israel and climbed to the top you will know is hotter than the hinges of hell). As another aside, I was in the cable car that stalled half way up to the top of the Masada. This was over 35 years ago and I still recall the airline hostess shouting: "We're all going to die!" and her boyfriend reproaching her in Hebrew saying "Shecket!" (which means shut up--that much Hebrew I knew.) "You're supposed to be reassuring people even though you're not on a plane." I wasn't a bit afraid--I was too young to realize fully that anything that bad could happen when one is not in her own country.

Back to that bank of burners--I didn't last long there, in fact, I understood for the first time why some chefs have a reputation of being a Gordon Ramsy type personality. If I had to work all day by that kind of heat I might be a little less charming myself! Not dear Michael Lomonaco, however. He was the soul of hospitality as you will see when you click on this link.