Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dr. Chemex

I feel cheap and tawdry when I use links from boingboing or kottke, but sometimes they're too good to pass up, like this article from Gourmet Magazine on the inventor of the Chemex coffee maker.

“He loved to drink and he loved to eat,” says Roy Doty, a cartoonist who was a friend of the late inventor, “so going out for dinner with Dr. Schlumbohm was a horrifying experience.” Guests were treated to epic all-night food crawls in his huge Cadillac Coupe De Ville, which he pimped out with built-in shades and a solid-gold Chemex coffee maker bolted to the driver’s door. (When he traded in his car every two years, he removed the golden amulet and set it on the newer, larger model.) Like many German immigrants, Schlumbohm felt at home in Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood, once a stronghold of German restaurants and coffee shops. He drove his guests up into the 80s, handed anyone loitering near the area a ten-dollar bill to watch the car, and then marched in for his first course. Soon, they all piled back into the car and moved on to the next joint. “Eventually,” says Doty, “you’d be somewhere eating streusel with him and by that time it was two or three in the morning.” But three in the morning was nothing to Schlumbohm, who surrounded himself with fellow night owls and often made calls around that time to discuss his newest ideas.

When he did return home, it was, unsurprisingly, to a bachelor penthouse on 5th Avenue—a peeping Tom’s paradise overlooking Greenwich Village, with thousands of dollars worth of binoculars dangling from the windows, and ice buckets stocked with perpetually chilling German beers and wines at the front door for visitors. “He loved women, Dr. S., and women loved him,” says Doty.

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