Having mastered salad dressings and also lemonades that raise numerous dollars for charity, the legendary actor lends his celebrity to one more cause: a restaurant that supports his neighborhood playresidence and also additionally promotes sustainable eating.

You are watching: Paul newman restaurant in westport ct


*

*

Paul Newguy is in a mischievous mood. he arrives at a actors party for Old Wicked Songs, a present at Connecticut’s historical Westport Counattempt Playhouse, shouting the inscription to a New Yorker cartoon: "Just because I didn’t tell you to shut up doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening!"


Heads revolve and the collective attention, as usual, shifts to Newmale. Fully aware of his effect on the room, he slides into character as the consummate entertainer, bantering through cast and also crew members and also, for a man in his eighties, percreating a pretty superior tap dance prior to flashing a fifty percent smile that prepares everyone for the significant finale: a wink.


The Paul Newman cinjury offensive remains a wonder to behold. These days, but, the actor generally doesn’t waste it on Hollytimber. Now he provides a lot of it on food philanthropy, cultivating his wildly effective Newman’s Own brand, which geneprices millions of charity dollars every year, and launching brand-new jobs (Robert Redford once explained Newman as having actually the attention span of a bolt of lightning). One of his latest obsessions is Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant. The new venture, which opened up in October 2006, is nearby to and also helps assistance the Playresidence, a local fixture since the 1930s.


Dressing Room, like the Playhome following door, delivers a posh performance in a down-house setting. The folksy decor—redeclared barn timber wall surfaces and white oak flooring, vintage theater posters, a rock fireplace—sets off the menu developed by Newman’s partner, chef Michel Nischan, the ponytailed proponent of organic food and also sustainable societies that made news in the 1990s at Drew Nieporent’s Heartbeat restaurant in New York City and freshly opened up Pure in the Taj Lands End hotel in Mumbai, India. Nischan crafted his Dressing Room food selection about what he calls "Amerideserve to heirloom recipes" (Newman simply refers to them as "chow"), which incorporate regional standards favor pot roast and also meat loaf that he elevates with modern-day methods and meticulously sourced ingredients.


Nischan decided some of his favorite "chow" for tonight’s actors party: baby earlier ribs made added tender and also intensely porky from slow cooking and also regular basting through ham stock; sweet potato gnocchi with chestnuts and shaved country ham; and also among Newman’s unique requests, a crunchy chopped salad sweetened via an apple vinaigrette. For dessert: sticky toffee pudding, a take on the classic English date-filled cake.


As the cast and crew of Old Wicked Songs fill up their plates, Newmale, sporting a beige jacket choose the one he wore in the movie Nobody’s Fool, explains just how the restaurant subsidizes the theater, which raises just 65 percent of its yearly budget via ticket sales. Newguy and also his wife, the actress Joanne Woodward, have lengthy sustained the Playresidence, which has staged works by George Bernard Shaw, the world premiere of William Inge’s Come Back, Little Sheba and also a current rebirth of Our Town, starring Newman himself. Woodward newly reexhausted as artistic director after spearheading an $18 million project to modernize the theater, which is hoprovided in a red barn that was previously a tannery. Under brand-new imaginative director Tazewell Thompboy, the 2007 seachild will certainly incorporate All About Us, a brand-new musical from John Kander and Fred Ebb, the team behind Chicago and also Cabaret, and also Sedition, a civilization premiere from the Playhouse’s resident playwappropriate, David Wiltse.


Newmale wants Dressing Room to execute more than assistance the Playhome. He imagines it as a hub of area activity. He and also Nischan have actually started a weekly farmers’ sector in the parking lot and also they plan to add fashion mirrors and also go-cart races (influenced by one more of Newman’s passions: racing). "Key Street supplied to be filled via tiny, individually owned, resident-owned businesses," Newguy states. "The haberdashery, the hardware stores, the liquor stores, jewelry stores—every one of that was regional people. Now it’s Cartier and also the Gap and also they have no hook right into this area. We’re going to try and also make this place a Main Street aget."


Nischan was a natural choice to assist Newmale realize his vision. Like Newman, he resides only a few miles from the Playhouse. Newman’s daughter, Nell, who runs Newman’s Own Organics, recommfinished the chef to her father. "Nell dubbed me and also shelp, ’Could you either talk him out of it or be a consultant?’" Nischan claims. It’s difficult to say no to Butch Cassidy, so Nischan agreed to the meeting. He warmed Newman up through a few ideas for the menu before arguing that the restaurant must be even more than just a satellite of the theater. Newman’s response surprised him. "After I talked, he obtained up and also hugged me and also said, ’That’s what I desire. Can you aid us?’ " Nischan claims. "He’s a normal guy, however then every one of a sudden I got weak in the knees. Paul Newman hugged me!"


Newmale and also Nischan are something of an odd couple. "Nischan is a chef and my dad basically likes home food preparation," Nell Newmale states. "I kbrand-new they were going to disagree, so I told my dad to give Michel some room." Nischan shelp he described to Newmale that they couldn’t serve tomatoes out of seakid. Nischan’s decision to ban steak from the menu was likewise a concern. "Tright here is this ’Eat steak eexceptionally day’ mentality in America that began after World War II," Nischan states. "It developed the livestock confinement operations that are a real substantial problem now." Do customers mind that there’s no steak on the menu? "So much, we’ve had no complaints," Nischan claims.


Newman was unwavering with a few of his requirements, however: He wanted casual and efficient company, a comfortable dining room and a hamburger via 22 percent fat. "I think the hamburger is the excellent Amerideserve to dish," Newman states. He and Nischan taste-tested 15 variations prior to settling on a practice ground-beef blfinish of Niguy Ranch brisket and chuck round. "The burger is Paul’s gold traditional," Nischan states. "It renders a statement that the restaurant is available. And a burger and a bottle of wine is a great combicountry."


"Paul has actually this link to the public and the things he feels the majority of strongly around are the points that really resonate through customers," Nischan adds. "That’s why Newman’s Own is so successful."


There’s no saying through that. Newman’s Own started as a hobby in the beforehand 1980s and conveniently flourished right into a multimillion-dollar brand also that consists of dozens of commodities, from salad dressing to salsa. Newmale donates the earnings to charities such as the Hole in the Wall Camps, which help children through cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. So far, Newman and also the Newman’s Own Foundation have given away more than $200 million to charity.

See more: What Does Up The Duff Mean, Up The Duff Definition And Meaning


Newguy would be the first to tell you that he’s constantly recognized how to turn his celebrity right into money and also that he doesn’t mind utilizing his fame to advantage an excellent cause. When a photographer sets as much as take Newman’s image at the finish of the party, he adopts a jaunty pose and also starts to play, balancing a plate of ribs on his head choose a finishing-institution student perfecting her posture. He’s having an excellent time. The crowd provides a round of applausage. He grabs a cloth napkin and wraps it approximately his challenge prefer a financial institution robber, a look that evokes Butch Cassidy. One of the actors laughs before asking a question: "But how will certainly world recognize that he is?" No one responds, bereason the answer is apparent. Really, who else can it be?


Jason Zinoman is a theater critic for the New York Times and also writes frequently for the Times’s Play Magazine and also the Guardian newspaper.