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The Decline and Fall of the Maitre D' in Fine Dining

A maitre d', 1959 or 1960.
A maitre d', 1959 or 1960.

The Times-Pic has a note for the younger generations: The maitre d' used to be a thing. Drinks writer Todd Price talks to several people?including former Maison de Ville maitre d' Patrick van Hoorebeek, chef John Besh and Upperline owner JoAnn Clevinger?to tell the story of the decline of the old-school maitre d'.

There's some talk about how "manners have changed" and "chivalry is slowly, slowly disappearing," but the argument really seems to be that the business has changed. The duties of the front-of-house manager have evolved.

John Besh puts it best: "The chef used to be fine just locked away in the kitchen. Now the chef needs to be astute to the needs of that customer." Further: "The management structure of the restaurant has changed, and it's changed forever." Chefs are more active and the front of the house is typically run by "a manager who can help with the business duties."

It's a short article, but a pretty thoughtful and well-researched one. The only problem? Clearly somebody at the paper thought it would be a good idea to hide it with this terrible headline: "No Maitre D'? Here are 5 Ways to Still Get That VIP Treatment at New Orleans Restaurants." Come on, Times-Pic, don't hide your best journalism.

· No Maitre D'? Here are 5 Ways to Still Get That VIP Treatment at New Orleans Restaurants [TP]