George Lang (restaurateur)

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George Lang (born György Deutsch; July 13, 1924 – July 5, 2011[1]) was a Hungarian born American restaurateur, food and travel writer, critic and journalist.

Lang was the only child of Simon Deutsch, a tailor, and Ilona Lang. He grew up in this "modestly prosperous" Jewish family in Székesfehérvár, Hungary where he practiced violin.[2] After Döme Sztójay took over as prime minister in March 1944, György was ordered into a labor camp; both his parents later died in Auschwitz, but György escaped within six months. In order to survive, he hid his identity and joined the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross, in which he served for three months before he was discovered. Russian forces liberated Budapest before he could be executed, however. He was tried for war crimes as an Arrow Cross member; even though he was acquitted, "Europe was finished for him." He changed his name (Deutsch means 'German'), taking his mother's maiden name, and moved to the United States in 1946 with his cousin Évi.[3]

He began working at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1955, after a period working in the Bowery, where he had run a wedding banquet hall, mainly for Italian Americans.[4] On December 13 1955 he helped organize the American Theatre Wing's First Night Ball to celebrate Helen Hayes's 50th year in show business.[5] He also did his best to organize dinners at the Waldorf to assist Hungarian issues and relief. On one occasions an event was attended by the likes of Edward G. Robinson and pianist Doklady and some $60,000 was raised.[6] Lang pioneered the profession of restaurant consulting when in 1970 he started the George Lang Corporation. In 1975, Lang was awarded the Hotelman of the Year Award.[7] The same year, he bought the Café des Artistes, a restaurant popular with musicians, journalists, and others; it closed in 2009 after steady losses and union troubles.[8] In 1992, along with Ronald S. Lauder, he bought and restored the famous Budapest restaurant Gundel.

His autobiography, entitled Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen (a reference to the spiritual "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen") was published by Knopf in 1998. He published several books on food and travel, and had a stint as a columnist for Travel & Leisure magazine.[9]

Lang was married to the concert pianist, opera singer and actress Doe Lang, born Caplow. Their son Brian Lang is a Concert Violinist, their daughter Andrea Lang was a Graphic Designer. Andrea died in a Santa Barbara Fire in 1990.

Lang, who was married to Jenifer Harvey Lang at the time of his death, had been treated for Alzheimer's disease and died at age 86 at his home in Manhattan.


  1. ^ William Grimes (July 6, 2011). "George Lang, Mastermind Behind Café des Artistes, Dies at 86". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Molly O'Neill, "George Lang Tells His Story, Bottom to Top," New York Times, April 22, 1998.
  3. ^ Molly O'Neill, "George Lang Tells His Story, Bottom to Top."
  4. ^ Morehouse III 1991, p. 121.
  5. ^ Morehouse III 1991, p. 125.
  6. ^ Morehouse III 1991, p. 126.
  7. ^ Morehouse III 1991, p. 119.
  8. ^ Cara Buckley, "Downturn Catches Up to Cafe Frozen in Time," New York Times, August 30, 2009.
  9. ^ Morehouse III 1991, p. 127.