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The Restaurant Whisperer


Debra Kletter prefers that restaurants not know her face, but her “happy place” is reading menus, even more so in Italy. This is the menu of Enoteca Corsi in Rome in 2014.

Debra Kletter’s job is to be food-guru to some of the world’s most discerning palates.  Once one of New York theater’s most respected lighting designers, Kletter found herself in the early 1990s disillusioned by budget-cuts and shaken by the loss of a generation of colleagues to HIV.  So she pursued her second calling, far from the first: figuring out where you should eat dinner.  After all, as she tells Alec, “reading menus was always my happy place.”  Now, years into her new business (which she conducts through her website, www.eatquestnyc.com), Kletter can tell you the best injera in Harlem or the oldest-school trattoria in Rome.  But her real genius is an ability to match that encyclopedic knowledge with the needs — and personalities — of individual clients.  One of those clients is Alec Baldwin, and you can tell from their teasing that the two go way back: all the way, in fact, to the stage of Prelude to a Kiss in 1989, which Debra lit, and where the two became friends.

Listen to more at the episode archive.