The world will never again see a restaurateur to compare with the charismatic George Lang, who passed away at the age of 86 last summer. Best known for reviving Cafe des Artistes, the New York City institution famed for its murals of nude nymphs, Lang packed several lives into one. A Hungarian emigre who barely escaped World War II alive (his parents died in Auschwitz), Lang was a concert violinist before entering New York’s food world. He managed the Four Seasons restaurant during its heyday. He traveled the world, recruiting chefs for the 1964 World’s Fair. However, it’s in the role of food historian and storyteller that we enjoy Lang most. George Lang’s Cuisine of Hungary (Atheneum, 1971) is a mix of history, myth, and mirth, with recipes for the classic foods he grew up with. And his moving memoir, Nobody Knows The Truffles I’ve Seen (Knopf, 1998) recalls a life exceptionally well lived.
In this year's SAVEUR 100, we take stock of our favorite things: recipes, people, places. We consider every last one a new classic.