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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Larry Mellisen: Go With God

Just found out yesterday that Larry Mellisen, an incredibly talented chef who worked wonders in the tiny kitchen at McMenamin's Tavern in Mt. Airy, died back in August from complications stemming from diabetes. I immediately e-mailed Rich Pawlak; Rich and I had hung out with Larry at the bar, and marveled over the dishes he put out of that little space.

I remember the first time I ate at McMenamin's. It was on my birthday, and Cathy and I had dressed up, barhopping around Philly: Manayunk Brewing, Michel Notredame's place, London Grill, and then I told her I wanted to go to McMenamin's for dinner, because PJ was now serving food. Okay, and we went, and...ate ham sandwiches with chips from a carving board at the end of the bar. They were damned good sandwiches, but I heard about that for a while: why did we get all get dressed up to go eat sandwiches in a damned bar?!

Two years later, I took her back, for my birthday. We had seafood risotto and squash blossom beggar's purses, and some kind of Golden Monkey bread pudding. Larry waved from the kitchen. And I said, so, how about that? We can come back here any time, she said. I wish we'd come back more often.

Rich has a great memory of Larry up at his blog. Have a look, and think of Larry the next time you have a great meal at a bar. Rich is right: he was ahead of his time.


Unknown said...

I am very sad to hear of Larry's passing. I was lucky to live close to McMenamins during Larry's time there and I feel that I took full advantage of it. I have many fond memories of Larry. I was once foolish enough to question his ability to make his wing hot. He told me I wouldn't be able to sit down for a week. He was pretty much right and I never made that mistake again. Once on a cold rainy fall night my ultimate team stopped in after our game was rained out. Being a Friday, the place was packed and we thought we would never get a seat. Since we were dressed for the weather they let us sit outside and nothing could have made Larry happier than to crank out 15 more dinners from that tiny kitchen. I think he came out to thank us twice.
RIP Larry.

Lew Bryson said...

Good story, Rick! I remember talking to Larry about hot wings. "I can make them as hot as you want, hot as anybody wants," he said, and made a shove-away motion with his big right hand. "I can make them so hot you can't eat them. So what? I make them so they taste good." And he was right, they rocked. Waiters would take a plate through the room, and two more tables would order them, just on the smell!

Amy M said...

Thanks for the kind words. I am Larry's niece and it is so comforting that others felt his immense passion through his food. He was such a strong force of life and we think of him often and fondly. Thank you for celebrating his talents and well-lived life though your kind words.
Amy Melissen