Oz meets The Restaurant by way of Goodfellas
: A once-top Irish chef, Conrad Gallagher, ends up in the Brooklyn House of Detention awaiting extradition to Ireland on a financial fracas and there, the Observer says, he befriends and cooks for Mafia inmates and that probably saves his life:
After five days, he was assigned to another wing, 162, and felt an atmospheric change immediately. There were, basically, white faces, even though he knew they were all probably Mafia. That night, 74-year-old Frankie Pero asked to see him, having read in the New York Times of Conrad’s history. They talked, and fantasised, about food. The mob boss suggested a ‘nice veal cutlet with cep mushrooms and a little madeira jus’. The Dubliner countered with ‘a nice veal piccatta with a side order of macaroni and a glass of chianti’. Pero roared with laughter, and the word went out that ‘Irish’ was to be kept safe, and for the next five weeks he was.
Instead of regulation meals, Jews and Muslims received ‘common fare’ – raw vegetables with a can of tomato juice and the use of a microwave. Gallagher and the Italians bartered with them for the vegetables, and he would spend hours making stews. ‘I would take the blade from my razor and very carefully chop up pieces of broccoli, garlic, potato, cauliflower, carrots. Maybe I’d get an Oxo cube from somebody, or somebody would smuggle a spice from the kitchen. I’d spend as long as I could chopping vegetables as it would kill the time.’
He also gathered recipes from the Italians, and had each man sign his contribution; he’s thinking of incorporating them into his next book.