Tuesday, April 04, 2000

Magaret Thatcher drops in for lunch

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Seen around town: Great Britain's ex-prime minister and noted Iron Maiden Margaret Thatcher.

        Officially, she was here last Friday and Saturday,speaking to students at Working in Neighborhoods and cozying up to business types.

        Unofficially, she was spotted two days earlier at the Maisonette, lunching with Ohio Secretary of State and old buddy Ken Blackwell.

        “We placed her facing the room because nobody wants to look at Ken. I can say that because I told him the same thing,” says Maisonette managing partner Nat Comisar.

        So what did they talk about, all huddled over onion soup, veal with eggs and capers and white wine at a table selected by Scotland Yard (it still provides protection, even though she hasn't been PM since 1990).

        “Law, government, liberty and our tradition of voluntarism,” Blackwell says. “And no, since you asked, her hair didn't move.”

        As for why she was here early, she really wasn't. She was all over the Midwest, but staying here because Delta's hub makes it easy to get around. Not cheap, just easy.

        Blackwell also took her on tour: To Batsakes to meet hatmaker Gus Miller, who talked about former president George Bush's visits; to a Clifton overlook for a lecture on the city's seven hills; to Spring Grove Cemetery for a garden tour.

        And finally: Later that day, presidential adviser James Carville and Washington insider Mary Matalin marched in and dined at the very same table. Selected by maitre'd Richard Brown, because Scotland Yard was busy.

        SING IT: So what we want to know now is how will Mount Orabvocalist John Wesley Wright spend the money?

        Seems he's $10,000 richer, thanks to the prestigious Savannah Onstage International Arts Festival, where he won a gold medal in the American Traditions Competition. And $10,000 to go with it.

        Wright, a 33-year-old tenor and an artist in residence at the University of Dayton, sent the judges over the edge with three Langston Hughes poems set to music, the spiritual “Over My Head,” and “Bring Him Home” from Les Miz.

        These weren't just any judges: Singers Odetta, Margaret Whiting and William Warfield, composer Sheldon Harnick and vocal coach Alan Smith.

        Wright sings mostly up north (Dayton Opera's Lucia, Dayton Phil's all-Bach night), but has performed here too. People are still talking about the program he unleashed at the annual Martin Luther King breakfast two years ago.

        MEATY NOTES: Going to prove once again, build a better burger and the world will beat a path to your door. At least PBS will.

        That from Amy Nelson, marketing specialist at J.T.M. Food Group, a Harrison outfit that processes frozen foods.

        Seems PBS' American Culinary Review popped in recently to shoot a segment on safe food preparation.

        “It was mostly at the Boudinot LaRosa,” Nelson says. “We mass produce hoagies, rolls and sausage links according to their specs, then they prepare it in the stores.”

        PBS shot their preparation, then interviewed J.T.M. research and development director Jack Hart on quality control and new product.

        It airs sometime in June.

        Knip's Eye View appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.