10 x 10 Questions
10 Questions for 10 Corso Como New York with Keith McNally, restaurateur behind Balthazar, among other NYC staples
1. What brought you to New York City?
A large airplane.
2. Is there something about it that made you stay?
The architecture, especially the cast iron buildings in SoHo.
3. What sort of work do you do in NYC that you can’t elsewhere?
When I arrived in 1975 you could live well on working three nights a week as a waiter. Something you could never do in London. Unfortunately, today you have to work six nights a week to live even modestly in New York.
4. Where do you like to shop?
I loathe shopping for clothes, which is why I’ve got fifty of the same polo shirts from J. Crew. I buy books from the Three Lives bookstore on West 10th Street because it stays open late, and paintings at either flea markets. or an auction house in Cologne called Lempertz. I’ve got some modest water colours by German expressionists Max Pechstein, Erich Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff. I can’t bear Gustave Klimt or Egon Schiele. But these days I can’t even afford to buy a poster, let alone a painting.
5. Where is your favorite place that you’ve lived in the city?
My first apartment at 68 Thompson Street in SoHo. I rented it from 1977 until 2007. I loved living in SoHo in the late 70s. Probably that’s how parts of Brooklyn feel today. In 1990 I rented the flat next door and broke through, making it one quite large, and incredibly sunny, apartment. Then the landlord sued me for knocking through and I lost it.
6. Do any restaurants, hotels, or museums here hold special meaning?
I like Il Buco Alimentari on Great Jones Street and the Frick Collection on 70th St. I prefer downtown hotels like the Mercer or the Greenwich to anything uptown. In fact, I don’t care for uptown at all.
7. What important people have you met?
Diane Sawyer is probably the most important person to me. We lived together before she married Mike Nichols and we’ve been close ever since. We still talk on the phone every other day.
8. What do you do on the weekends?
Long for Monday to arrive.
9. What are you most proud of doing in NYC?
Supporting Woody Allen when everybody else has deserted him.
10. Will you stay here forever?
Only until I die.
10 Corso Como New York