Audible announced today a new audio series, Seat at the Table, which captures the inside stories of the most iconic restaurants in the United States as told by chefs and diners who brought these landmarks to life. Host and executive producer Marcus Samuelsson and season one co-host Jonathan Waxman will be joined by tastemakers in the industry as they take listeners on a delightful journey to restaurants that have become well known not only for their food but also for fostering important cultural communities.
Guests in the series include Ruth Reichl, Wolfgang Puck, Vanessa Williams, Thomas Keller, Nancy Silverton, Sherry Yard, Toni Tipton Martin, and Colman Andrews. The eight-episode series premieres exclusively on Audible Thursday, November 10. The first episode, featuring Alberta Wright’s groundbreaking restaurant Jezebel, which was located in Hell’s Kitchen in New York, is available for free in advance of launch beginning today through October 30.
Restaurants featured in Seat at the Table also include Dooky Chase’s (New Orleans, LA), Spago (originally West Hollywood, CA; currently Beverly Hills, CA), Campanile (previously Los Angeles, CA), Ben’s Chili Bowl (Washington, DC), Prune (New York, NY), The French Laundry (Yountville, CA), and The Slanted Door (San Francisco, CA).
“I love telling stories about the connections between food and community, especially through audio. I’m excited to collaborate again with Audible on this incredible series about some of the most iconic restaurants across America,” said Marcus Samuelsson. “Jonathan and I are pulling back the curtain on the culinary world to give listeners exclusive access behind-the-scenes, and we can’t wait for listeners to dig in.”
“Marcus broke boundaries when he created Our Harlem, and we’re thrilled to welcome him back for another format-bending culinary and cultural adventure created specifically for the listening experience,” said Zola Mashariki, Head of Audible Studios. “His acumen for audio storytelling in Seat at the Table is scintillating as he welcomes Audible listeners inside the most creative kitchens and iconic restaurants.”
Seat at the Table episode details below:
1. Jezebel: Alberta Wright’s Oasis in Hell’s Kitchen
Ms. Alberta Wright did it all on her own—no business plan, no backers, no marketing—and she launched what came to be known the best “low country” restaurant in all of New York City. She opened in the early 1980s, when Hell’s Kitchen was closer to Hell than Heaven. Still, a parade of celebrities frequented the place—Arthur Ashe, Vanessa Williams, Magic Johnson—and others who were lucky enough to find it.
Guests: Brad Johnson, Pauletta Washington, Bernard King, Raymond Lewis, Reggie Van Lee, Roberta Flack, Cécilia Rodhe, and Vanessa Williams
2. Spago: The Showmanship and Hospitality of Wolfgang Puck
The concept of a “superstar chef” came into existence with this man: Wolfgang Puck. Born in Austria and trained in the finest French culinary traditions, Wolfgang turned elegance on its head. In 1982, with the launch of the West Hollywood sensation, Spago, he transformed the pedestrian pizza into gourmet fare all the while creating an ambience that became a go-to destination for movie stars, such as Orson Welles, Jack Lemmon, and Jaqueline Bisset.
Guests: Wolfgang Puck, Ruth Reichl, Colman Andrews, François Kwaku-Dongo, and Sherry Yard
3. Dooky Chase’s: How Leah Chase Transformed Creole Cuisine
Edgar and Leah Chase opened their famed restaurant in 1941 in New Orleans, long before civil rights gathered strength. But segregation did not stop Leah Chase from creating a restaurant that was racially inclusive and gastronomically innovative. For sixty years, she elevated Creole cuisine while fighting for equality. And you can’t miss hearing about Leah’s famous gumbo “Z’herbes.”
Guests: Dr. Jessica B. Harris, Lolis Eric Elie, Stella Chase-Reese, and Toni Tipton Martin
4. Campanile: Working from Home with Nancy Silverton and Mark Peel
In 1989, Nancy Silverton and Mark Peel together gave birth to what is now recognized to be the quintessential Los Angeles culinary phenomenon: Campanile. As creative and life partners, the pair strove to create an establishment that made everything simple and comfortable, not unlike dining at one’s own home, even if it meant living there. It also helped that Nancy was one of the best bread makers in the country. We talked with Mark Peel in these interviews before he died of cancer in June 2021.
Guests: Nancy Silverton, Manfred Krankl, Mark Peel, Vanessa Silverton Peel, and Ruth Reichl
5. Prune: The Unconventional Mind of Gabrielle Hamilton
Gabrielle Hamilton was a reluctant chef. She thought of herself as a writer who wanted to put down on paper stories from her complicated childhood and her travels. But somehow, the sweetbreads and monkfish livers she ate as a child, were to do more than exist as words on a page. In opening Prune in 1999, she found herself creating these dishes in an unpretentious, 30-seat bistro in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with menus that drew on flavors from regions worldwide.
Guests: Gabrielle Hamilton, Mashama Bailey, Dan Melia, Elizabeth Faulkner, Dominique Crenn, Amanda Freitag, and Colman Andrews
6. Ben’s Chili Bowl: Ben & Virginia Ali, Champions of Black Broadway
Ben’s Chili Bowl isn’t just some hot dog shop; it’s a Washington, D.C. landmark and an essential part of African American history. Obama’s first outing after becoming President-Elect, was there. Husband and wife owners, Ben and Virginia Ali, stayed open through some of the roughest times the city had ever seen, such as the 1968 race riots and the 1980s “war on crack.” Ben’s U-Street neighborhood was devastated through those periods but the restaurant survived it all and has become a landmark.
Guests: Virginia Ali, Sage Ali, Kamal Ali, Vida Ali, The Ali family, Dr. Bernard Demczuk, and Stanley Mays
7. The French Laundry: The Aspiration of Thomas Keller
If you’re grading on culinary excellence, The French Laundry is one of the best in the world. Known for its innovative design, extensive wine list, daily tasting menus, and a long list of talented alumni, it’s clear that Thomas Keller’s crew is an establishment to learn from. In this episode, Jonathan sits down with chef Keller at the world renowned, three-star Michelin-rated restaurant in Yountville, CA, as they reflect on how it became the standard for fine dining in America.
Guests: Thomas Keller, Michael Minnillo, Laura Cunningham, Eric Ziebold, Jonathan Benno, Cindy Pawlcyn, Michael Bauer, and Timothy Hollingsworth
8. The Slanted Door: How Charles Phan Elevated Vietnamese Cuisine
After escaping Vietnam in 1975 and landing in San Francisco, Charles Phan worked as a busboy to help support his family. Nobody would have guessed that 20 years later, he would become the man to revolutionize Vietnamese cuisine in America at his San Francisco-based restaurant, Slanted Door. A self-taught chef and businessman, Charles admittedly “borrows” and elevates recipes from his many travels to make them even better. Join us as Charles talks about some of his signature dishes, including his famous “shaking beef.”
Guests: Charles Phan, Carolyn Jung, Caryl Chinn, Chris Cosentino, Michael Bauer, and Danny Meyer