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Taste Maker Visits Taste

Side Dishes: Owner proud of Democratic dining

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When someone from the Hilton Hotel called Taste last Monday to tell the staff a party of 15 would arrive in 20 minutes, they neglected to give a name. But thanks to fashion-forward bartender Chris Turgeon, staffers soon realized they had a bona fide celebrity on their hands. The group included legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld, who recently purchased a house in Grand Isle and was in town for a four-day Chanel shoot, catered by Blue Paddle Bistro.

According to Taste’s Chef-Owner Rick Benson, who wasn’t at the restaurant but got the dish on the visit from his employees, several people in Lagerfeld’s group tried the sliced flank steak. Others ordered burgers from the restaurant’s new, less expensive, recession-inspired pub menu. They also swigged Taste’s finest bottles of wine, ranging from $49 to $79 each.

What did Lagerfeld have? Two custom-order plates of grilled salmon. “He had seconds!” Benson crows.

Requesting a specially prepared entrée may not be so idiosyncratic, but Lagerfeld’s method of ordering was: He whispered his desires to an assistant, who expressed them to the waitstaff.

But while the couturier may not deign to speak to the servers, he was happy to chat with the chefs. Benson brags: “Mr. Lagerfeld asked the bartender if he could say hi to the folks in the kitchen, and he walked right in and introduced himself to the guys and complimented them on a great meal.”

And though the bartender “made” — that is, ID’ed — the group, Benson claims they got no special treatment. “That’s what we strive for,” he says. “Everybody’s the same. When Patrick Leahy was here one night, we ran out of Jameson, and we didn’t run up the street and grab a new bottle.”

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